« A West Country Lass | Main | A Conversation With An Old Friend »

Classical Composers A-Z: Bairstow And Balakirev

Peter Wintersgill introduces us to two more classical composers whose music lives on down the decades.

EDWARD BAIRSTOW, 1874 - 1946

Born

22nd August 1874 in Huddersfield (Westhill).

Father

James, Cloth Merchant.

Mother

Elizabeth.

Adolescence

Served articles with Frederick Bridge at Westminster

Adult Life

Organist successively at Wigan (1899), Leeds Parish Church (1906) and York Minster (1913 till death). Made Mus Doc Durham ( 1901), Professor of Music, Durham ( 1929), conductor of choral societies at Leeds and Bradford, also teacher of singing and composition. Honours included knighthood in 1932, Hon D Litt. Leeds and Mus Doc. Oxon. Mainly a composer of church music, Bairstow was influenced by Stanford and Brahms. His most important work was the Communion Service in D (1913). Other works were mainly anthems, e.g. Lord, thou hast been our Refuge (1917), If the Lord had not helped me (1910), Let all Mortal Flesh keep Silence and Lamentations (1942). Other choral works included Five Poems of the Spirit and the Prodigal Son. He died on 1st May 1946 in York aged 72.

* *

MILY BALAKIREV, 1837 - 1910

Born

2nd January 1837 in Novgorod.

Father

Minor government official.

Mother

Gave first piano lessons.

Childhood

Had lessons in Moscow at ten in school holidays. Later from Karl Eisrich at nobleman's house where there were concerts. He got keen there on works of Chopin and Glinka, where he was allowed to conduct works of Beethoven.

Adolescence

Went to St. Petersburg Conservatoire at 18, and was taught by Glinka. He played and conducted at concerts there, including some works of his own.

Adult Life

Founded the Free School of Music in St. Petersburg in 1862, where he himself taught. He was a very demanding teacher, supervising his pupils’ work in great detail. A fine pianist, he once played Beethoven's piano concerto before the Tsar. The same year (1858) he had encephalitis, which left him with a tendency to headaches and nervous disorders for the rest of his life.

He met like-minded colleagues Cui, Mussorgsky, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, all keen nationalists and formed The Five, who became known as The Mighty Handful. His other main ailment was depression, of which he had several bouts, the worst in 1871, a complete breakdown with suicidal ideas coupled with religious mania, he was off work then for five years.

His orchestral works included Overtures for "King Lear", on Russian Themes, on Czech Themes, and a symphonic poem Tamara. On a visit to the Caucasus he collected folk songs, mainly Georgian ones, and published them, also an oriental Fantasy Islamey. Of his two symphonies, no. 1 in C was finally finished in 1898, after a 30 year gap. In 1883 he was appointed Musical Director to the Imperial Court. Having suffered from heart disease
for several years, he finally died from pleurisy on 29th May 1910 in St. Petersburg, aged 73.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.