Mikhail GLINKA
1 June 1804 - 15 February 1857 (age 52)

Mikhail Glinka, the Russian 19th century composer is acknowledged as the Father of Russian Classical music. His influence on the subsequent development of Russian music was immense and in particular on Balakirev, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Anton Rubinstein.






Portrait of Glinka


Born: 1 June 1804 nr Smolensk, Russia
Father: wealthy landowner and retired army captain
Paternal grandmother: brought him up
Siblings: sister - Lyudmila Shestakova
Wife: Maria Ivanova.
Lover: Ekaterina Kern
Children: none
Died: 15 February 1857 Berlin, Germany
Cause of death: pneumonia Cancer of the stomach
Grave: Alexander Nevsky Monastery, St Petersburg. see findagrave

Glinka - the man

He suffered throughout his life from poor health, blamed on his early years with his grandmother who was overprotective and kept him wrapped up and in her room which was always at a constant 25degrees C.
Played the piano and violin.
Spoke Russian, Polish, German, French, Italian, Spanish. He had also studied Latin, English and Persian.
He traveled a lot and enjoyed the cultures of different countries. He lived a life of wine, women, song and doctors. He is said to have enjoyed numerous amorous affairs.


Style/period: Romantic, Russian Nationalist.
Output: considerable
Genres: Opera, orchestral, vocal, chamber, keyboard
Influenced by: Berlioz, Bellini, Chopin, Donizetti, folk music
Influenced: Balakirev, Borodin, Cui, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky
- Ivan Susanin (A Life for the Tsar)
- Ruslan and Lyudmila

Glinka in Art
A fascinating collection of images - art, portraits, caricatures, cartoons, album covers and postage stamps.

Brief Biography and Career

Early years - Glinka was brought up by his autocratic grandmother
Age 6 - grandmother died and he was moved to his uncle's estate
Age 13 - sent to a school for children of the nobility in St.Petersburg
Age 20 - 24 - appointed assistant secretary in St Petersburg's Department of Public Highways
Age 26 - 29 Lived in Italy where he discovered Italian opera and met Bellini, Donizetti, Mendelssohn and Berlioz.
Age 30 - Spent 5 months in Berlin studying composition. His Father died. So he returned to his village in Russia.
Age 31 - Married Maria Ivanova. An unhappy marriage which ended in divorce.
Age 32 - On his return to Russia he had applied himself to writing his first opera Ivan Susanin which was premiered in 1836 and was a great success.
Age 33 - Appointed instructor of the Imperial Chapel Choir.
Age 38 - Premier of his second opera Ruslan and Lyudmila which was a failure
Age 40 - To overcome his depression following the poor reception of Ruslan, he embarked on a tour of France and Spain.
Age 44 - returned to Russia
Later years spent between St.Petersburg, Warsaw, Berlin and Paris.


- "A nation creates music - the composer only arranges it."

- "Music is my soul"

- "I am a Russian, but I have Polish blood"

Ruslan & Ludmilla Overture


Kamarinskaya is a Russian traditional dance, which is mostly known today as the Glinka's magnum opus.

"The Patriotic Song"
National anthem of Russia from 1990 to 2000

The Lark
played by Anna Shelest

Links - where to go for more information

Russian composers: more profiles here at 52composers

Tchaikovsky-Research.net another interesting article

ClassicalCat a biography. mp3s and links


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