Composer. He is considered the father of Russian classical music. His style combined European techniques with the melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of his native folk songs. Glinka's opera "A Life for the Tsar" (1836) marked the first time music of a Russian character was heard on the operatic stage. It initiated a long series of patriotic music dramas by Russian composers. His second opera, "Ruslan and Ludmilla" (1842), was adapted from a fairy tale by his friend, the poet Alexander Pushkin. He also wrote the orchestral fantasy "Kamarinskaya" (1848), and two overtures, "Jota Aragonesa" (1845) and "Summer Night in Madrid", inspired by his visits to Spain. Glinka's eclectic but distinctively nationalist approach had a vital influence on the "Mighty Five" composers (Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Balakirev, and Cui), as well as the more cosmopolitan Tchaikovsky. Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka was born in Novospasskoye, near Smolensk. His early musical instruction consisted of piano lessons with John Field in St. Petersburg, and he was also a fine amateur singer. Most of his works before 1836 were songs and piano pieces. From 1830 to 1834 he lived in Italy, where he took in Italian opera and met Donizetti, Bellini, and Berlioz. After further study in Germany, Glinka returned to his country determined to create a truly Russian opera. The immense success of "A Life for the Tsar" led to his appointment as director of the Imperial Chapel Choir in 1837. A restless, sickly man, Glinka completed few major compositions and spent much of his later life travelling throughout Europe. He died of pneumonia in Berlin. During the Soviet era "A Life for the Tsar" was performed in Russia under the title "Ivan Susanin", the name of the opera's peasant hero. Glinka's "Patriotic Song" (c. 1835) was the National Anthem of the Russian Federation from 1991 to 2000.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards