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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 12 November 1833St. Petersburg, Russian Empire [now Russia]
Date of Death 27 February 1887St. Petersburg, Russian Empire [now Russia]  (heart failure)
Birth NameAleksandr Porfirevich Borodin

Mini Bio (1)

Aleksandr Borodin was born on November 12, 1833 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was in fact the illegitimate son of the Georgian Prince, Lukas Gedevanishvili, who registered his son under the name of his serf and payed for Borodin's private education in music, languages and sciences.

Young Borodin grew up becoming fluent in German, French and English, besides his native Russian. He later learned Italian and was able to write a technical essay in that language. Borodin studied at the St. Petersburg Medical-Surgical Academy from 1850-1856 and graduated with honours as a Medical Doctor. He also earned a doctorate in organic chemistry with his dissertation "On the analogy of arsenic acid with phosphoric acid in chemical and toxicological behaviour." Borodin carried advanced research on aldehydes. In 1872, Borodin discovered the "Aldol-reaction/condensation". He also worked on the chemistry of mineral waters and researched their medicinal properties.

In 1859-63 Borodin lived in Western Europe, where he studied medicine and chemistry and also attended the concerts of Franz Liszt, who became Borodin's friend and admirer of his music. Back in Russia, Borodin continued his music studies as a weekend hobby. He often played piano and flute with his friends, the composers of "The Mighty Handful", which included Mily Balakirev, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Borodin was a frequent traveller because of his scientific research and invitations from various research centres and Universities. His tone poem for symphony orchestra "In the Steppes of Central Asia" was composed on his impressions from travels.

Borodin started the work on his first symphony in 1862, under the tutelage of Mily Balakirev and completed the work by 1869, when it was premiered under the baton of Mily Balakirev. In 1869, Borodin started on his Symphony No.2 which was premiered in 1877, but Borodin made upgrades to its orchestration for the triumphal performance in 1879 under the direction of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. His lengthy work on each one of his symphonies was caused by Borodin's preoccupation with his second opera "Prince Igor", which became his most important work. Borodin was working on this masterpiece from 1869 to his death in 1877. It contains the famous choral "Polovetsian Dances" which was borrowed for the popular song "Stranger in Paradise" and was also used in many films.

In 1877, Borodin went to Weimar where Franz Liszt worked as a Muskmaster. Though Borodin's European trips were made for the business of his scientific research, Franz Liszt, being a personal friend of Borodin, made arrangements for his Symphony No. 1 to be performed for the first time outside Russia. In Italy, Borodin became engaged and lived with Ekaterina Protopopova, whom he married upon their return to St. Petersburg, Russia. Borodin composed many romantic songs for voice and piano accompaniment, dedicated to his beloved wife, Ekaterina. Some of those romances were composed to the poems by Nikolai A. Nekrasov. Borodin's romances became a staple in the repertoire of many classical vocalists.

Borodin's strong and lyrical String Quartet No.2 in D Major stands out in that genre. It is an intellectual conversation between the four musical instruments, each having a special character, and each shows its development through their delicious harmonic interplay. The popular "Nocturne" movement from this quartet is arguably one of the most lyrical melodies in all music.

Borodin's contribution to science and culture could be even more significant. He left a number of unfinished works, the Symphony No. 3 and a five-part opera on stories from Russian fairy tales. He died on February 27, 1887 during a party in St. Petersburg and was laid to rest at the St. Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg, Russia.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (1)

Ekaterina Sergeyevna Protopopova (29 April 1863 - 27 February 1887) (his death) (1 child)

Trivia (3)

In addition to composing music, he was one of the foremost chemists of his time.
He and his wife had one adopted child, Liza Balaneva.
Because his music was used as the basis for the score of the 1953 musical "Kismet", his name was included in the Tony Awards that the show won, but Borodin himself did not actually win an award for it.

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