Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary Composer Biographies
January 2, 1837 in Novgorod, Russia
May 29, 1910 in Saint Petersburg, Russia
Symphonic poems Tamara and Russ
A piano fantasy, Islamey
Incidental music for King Lear
Part of the "Russian Five" or kutchka a group of five national composers in later 19th century Russia. He received his first music lessons from his mother. By age four he could reproduce tunes at the piano. Balakirev decided on a musical career in 1855. He supported himself by giving piano lessons. In the years between 1861 and 1866 he suffered from acute depression and wished to destroy all his manuscripts. 1868 he became director of the Free School. He was forced to resign because of his "tactlessness." In 1871 he had a mental crisis, but got well and began writing music again. October 1894 was his last public appearance in Warsaw. He died in 1910 from a common cold that turned into pleurisy.