Alexander Borodin

1833 - 1887

Russian

Biography

Born in Saint Petersburg on November 12th 1833, Alexander Borodin was a Russian Romantic composer, as well as being a doctor and chemist. He was a member of The Five, a group of Russian composers who worked dedicatedly towards creating a distinctly Russian style of art music. He enrolled in the Medical-Surgical Academy in St. Petersburg in 1850 and after graduating he spent a year in a military hospital working as a surgeon. In 1862 he moved back to St. Petersburg in order to start a career teaching chemistry at the Imperial Medical-Surgical Academy and remained in this professorship for the rest of his career. Upon moving back to St. Petersburg, he also began composition lessons with Mily Balakirev, having met him that year. Whilst studying with him, he began to compose his somewhat prolific symphonic output. It is for his symphonies that he is best known today, along with his two string quartets, In the Steppes of Central Asia and his opera Prince Igor. Much later when Robert Wright and George Forrest were writing the US musical Kismet, they adapted music from Borodin’s string quartets and Prince Igor. He was also an important advocate of women’s rights to the extent that he developed medical courses for women whilst a professor at the Imperial Medical-Surgical Academy and helped to found the School of Medicine for Women in St. Petersburg.