- Alexander Borodin
name =Alexander Borodin
caption =Alexander Borodin
birth_date = birth date|1833|11|12|mf=y!
death_date = death date and age|1887|02|27|1833|11|12
footnotes = Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin ( _ru. Александр Порфирьевич Бородин, "Aleksandr Porfir'evič Borodin") (OldStyleDate|12 November|1833|31 October – OldStyleDate|27 February|1887|15 February) was a
Russian composerof Georgian-Russian parentage who made his living as a notable chemist. He was a member of the group of composers called The Five(or "The Mighty Handful"), who were dedicated to producing a specifically Russian kind of art music. [Abraham, Gerald. "Borodin: the Composer and his Music". London, 1927.] [Dianin, Sergei Aleksandrovich. "Borodin". London, New York, Oxford University Press, 1963.] [Oldani, Robert, William. "Borodin, Aleksandr Porfir′yevich," [http://www.grovemusic.com Grove Music Online] (Accessed 27 January 2006, subscription required)] He is best known for his symphonies, his two string quartets, and his opera " Prince Igor", and for later providing the musical inspiration for the musical "Kismet".
Life and profession
Borodin was born in
Saint Petersburg, the illegitimate son of a Georgian noble (saeklesio aznauri), Luka Simonis dze Gedevanishvili and a Russian mother, the 25 year old Evdokia Konstantinova Antonova (Евдокии Константиновны Антоновa), who had him registered instead as the son of one of his serfs, Porfiry Borodin. As a boy he received a good education, including pianolessons. He was eventually to earn a doctorate in medicine at the Medico–Surgical Academy, the later home to Ivan Pavlov, and to pursue a career in chemistry (just as his comrade César Cuiwould do in the field of military fortifications). As a result of his work in chemistry and difficulties in his home-life, Borodin was not as prolific in writing music as many of his contemporaries were - hence his own description of himself as a "Sunday composer." He died during a festive ball, where he was participating with much vigor; he suddenly collapsed from heart failure. He was interred in Tikhvin Cemeteryat the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, in Saint Petersburg.
In his chemical profession Borodin gained great respect, being particularly noted for his work on
aldehydes [cite journal
title = Facing the Music: How Original Was Borodin’s Chemistry?
author = Michael D. Gordin
Journal of Chemical Education
year = 2006
volume = 83
pages = 561–566
url =http://www.jce.divched.org/HS/Journal/Issues/2006/Apr/clicSubscriber/V83N04/p561.pdf] . Between 1859 and 1862 Borodin held a postdoctorate in
Heidelberg. He worked in the laboratory of Emil Erlenmeyerworking on benzene derivatives. He also spent time in Pisa, working on organic halogens. One experiment published in 1862 described the first nucleophilic displacementof chlorine by fluorine in benzoyl chloride[cite journal
title = Borodin?
author = E. J. Behrman
Journal of Chemical Education
year = 2006
volume = 83
pages = 1138
url =http://www.jce.divched.org/HS/Journal/Issues/2006/Aug/clicSubscriber/V83N08/p1138_1.pdf] . A related reaction known to the west as the
Hunsdiecker reactionpublished in 1939 by the Hunsdieckers was promoted by the Soviet Unionas the Borodin reaction. In 1862 he returned to the Medico–Surgical Academy. There he worked on the self-condensation of small aldehydes with publications in 1864 and 1869 and in this field he found himself competing with August Kekulé.
Borodin is also credited with the discovery of the
Aldol reactiontogether with Charles-Adolphe Wurtz. In 1872 he announced to the Russian Chemical Society the discovery of a new by-product in aldehyde reactions with properties like that of an alcoholand he noted similarities with compounds already discussed in publications by Wurtz from the same year.
He published his last full article in 1875 on reactions of
amides and his last publication concerned a method for the identification of ureain animal urine.
His son-in-law and successor was fellow chemist
A. P. Dianin.
Opera and orchestral works
Mily Balakirevin 1862. While under his tutelage in composition he began his Symphony No. 1 in E flat major; it was first performed in 1869, with Balakirev conducting. In that same year Borodin started on his Symphony No. 2 in B minor, which was not particularly successful at its premiere in 1877 under Eduard Nápravník, but with some minor re-orchestration received a successful performance in 1879 by the Free Music School under Rimsky-Korsakov's direction. In 1880 he composed the popular symphonic poem" In the Steppes of Central Asia". Two years later he began composing a third symphony, but left it unfinished at his death; two movements of it were later completed and orchestrated by Glazunov.
In 1869, Borodin became distracted from initial work on the second symphony by preoccupation with the
opera" Prince Igor", which is seen by some to be his most significant work and one of the most important historical Russian operas. It contains the " Polovetsian Dances", which are often performed as a stand-alone concert work as probably Borodin's best known composition. Unfortunately Borodin left the opera (and a few other works) incomplete at his death. "Prince Igor" was completed posthumously by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov.
No other member of the Balakirev circle identified himself so openly with
absolute musicas Borodin did in his two string quartets. Himself a cellist, he was an enthusiastic chamber music player, an interest deepened during his chemical studies in Heidelberg between 1859 and 1861. This early period yielded, among other chamber works, a string sextet and a piano quintet. In thematic structure and instrumental texture he based his pieces on those of Felix Mendelssohn.Maes, 72.]
In 1875 he started on his First String Quartet, much to the displeasure of Mussorgsky and
Vladimir Stasov. That Borodin did so in the company of The Five, which was hostile to chamber music, speaks to his independence. From the First Quartet on he displayed mastery in the form. His Second Quartet, in which his strong lyricism is represented in the popular " Nocturne" followed in 1881. The First Quartet is richest in changes of mood. The Second Quartet has a more uniform atmosphere and expression.Maes, 72.]
Borodin's fame outside the
Russian Empirewas made possible during his lifetime by Franz Liszt, who arranged a performance of the Symphony No. 1 in Germanyin 1880, and by Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau in Belgium and France. His music is noted for its strong lyricism and rich harmonies. Along with some influences from Western composers, as a member of the The Five his music exudes also an undeniably Russian flavor. His passionate music and unusual harmonies proved to have a lasting influence on the younger French composers Debussy and Ravel (in homage, the latter composed in 1913 a piano piece entitled "À la manière de Borodine").
The evocative characteristics of Borodin's music made possible the adaptation of his compositions in the 1953 musical "Kismet", by Robert Wright and George Forrest, perhaps most notably in the song, "Stranger In Paradise". In 1954, Borodin was posthumously awarded a
Tony Awardfor this show.
Borodin String Quartetwas named in his honour.
Alexander Shulginuses the name "Alexander Borodin" as a fictional persona in the books PiHKALand TiHKAL.
* [http://www.karadar.it/Cataloghi/borodin.html List of compositions] (in German)
*Maes, Francis, tr. Pomerans, Arnold J. and Erica Pomerans, "A History of Russian Music: From "Kamarinskaya "to" Babi Yar (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2002). ISBN 0-520-21815-9.
title = Borodin (1833-87)
author = George Sarton
year = 1939
volume = 7
pages = 224–260
url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0369-7827%281939%291%3A7%3C224%3AB%28%3E2.0.CO%3B2-0
doi = 10.1086/368505
title = A Study of Borodin: I. The Man
author = A. J. B. Hutchings
The Musical Times
year = 1936
volume = 77
issue = 1124
pages = 881–883
url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0027-4666%28193610%2977%3A1124%3C881%3AASOBIT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-G
doi = 10.2307/920565
title = An Apparent Conflict between Art and Science: The Case of Aleksandr Porfir'evich Borodin (1833-1887)
author = George B. Kauffman, Kathryn Bumpass
journal = Leonardo
volume = 21
issue = 4
year = 1988
pages = 429–436
doi = 10.2307/1578707
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