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Classical Composers A-Z: Mikhail Glinka

Peter Wintersgill sketches the career details of the composer Mikhail Glinka, who led a life of luxury, playing and singing in the aristocratic drawing rooms of St Petersburg.

Born
1st June, 1804, in Novospasshoye (now Glinka).

Father
Ivan, land owner.

Family
An uncle had his own serf orchestra.
Childhood
Cared for by grandmother till six, heard no music till after she died.

Adolescence
Went to school in St. Petersburg at thirteen, but no proper music lessons while there, had three piano lessons from John Field.

Adult Life
Led a life of luxury, playing and singing in the aristocratic drawing rooms of St. Petersburg.

His first opera A Life for the Tsar (1836) made him famous, the second one Ruslam and Ludmilla (1942) was less successful.

He visited Italy and Spain, where he absorbed some of the spirit of each, also Paris, where he met Berlioz. He also wrote two orchestral pieces, two overtures and sundry piano works.

He died on 15th February, 1857, in Berlin, aged 52.

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