“The Five,” a musical group additionally famous as “the brand-new Russian School,” “The Mighty Five,” and “Mighty Handful” to be a arsenal of five commemorated Russian composers that emphasized on providing Russian timeless music with its very own identity. The members included Alexander Borodin, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, modest Mussorgsky, César Cui, and the leader Mily Balakirev. From 1856 come 1870, the group was based in Saint Petersburg and also collaborated v an target to produce a distinct genre of Russian timeless music. 











Borodin (top left), Korsakov (top right), Mussorgsky (bottom right), Balakirev (bottom left), Cui (center) 


The Five, except Balakirev, every struggled in their quest to promot Russian music. Also, none of the 5 was of country Russian lower (Velikoross). Borodin’s forefathers were Georgian, Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky had actually Polish-Lithuanian ancestry, and also Cui to be of French descent. Balakirev was the just “civilian” in the group; all various other members either had a solid military background or were army officers themselves.

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In 1856, the formation wheels began rolling as soon as César Cui and also Balakirev hosted a meeting. In 1857, usually Mussorgsky join in the fray. In 1861 and 1862, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and also Alexander Borodin join the group, respectively. All members that “The Five” to be young earlier then. In 1862, Rimsky-Korsakov was just 18, Mussorgsky was 23, Cui 27, and Balakirev 25. Borodin was 28 years old and the eldest of the lot. Castle were usually amateurs and relied top top self-training.

This music revolution was mostly Balakirev’s brainchild, and he to be the very first one to face opposition. Over there was conflict surrounding a Slavic Concert, wherein the name “Mighty Handful” (which the team initially used) garnered heavy criticism and also mockery from the Russian musical Society, the academics of the conservatory and also their pendant in the press. The Russian composers who performed because that the international delegation to be Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Mily Balakirev, Alexander Dargomyzhsky, and Mikhail Glinka. However, the group decided to neglect the critics and also continue performing under the moniker. Borodin, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Mussorgsky gathered roughly Balakirev, your leader, and continued performing as “The Five”/“Mighty Handful.”

Musical Overview

“The Five” mostly operated native the minor provinces, devoid of any kind of court connections, uneven the “elite” conservatory composers. Their movement was an ext pertained in the direction of the an ext classical, “authentically Russian.” they crafted operas on unique Russian subjects and also made a focused effort in the direction of incorporating the influence of aboriginal music in their songs. Their works consisted of “tolling the church bells,” the music in Caucasian dances, Cossack, church chants, and town songs.

“The Five” additionally incorporated the sounds the were engraved v the Russian lifestyle. Balakirev’s own transcriptions repaint a distinctive snapshot of Russian folk music. Some attributes of the group’s music are: 

Tonal mutability

They also succeeded at artfully maintaining “Tonal mutability,” a distinctive aspect of Russian folk. This occurs when a tune naturally shifts between tonal centers, often beginning a tune with a distinct key and carrying to a various one eventually. This create a palpable source of elusiveness, a absence of logical progression, or so-called definition in the harmonies. Also when considering the music of “The Five,” this top quality instills a whole new tonal structure to Russian music, distinct from its west counterparts. 


In this context, many performers (two or more) at the same time render a melody in unique variations. The singers improvise this till the end section of a song as soon as it finally reverts come a “single” melodic line.

Parallel thirds, fourths, and fifths

This unique effect uses a raw sonority to Russian music, i m sorry is entirely missing from the comparatively more-polished harmonies the the West.

They more made an effort to blee the melismatic, long-drawn peasant lyrical, also known together “the soul of Russian music.” They embraced multiple harmonic gadgets to craft their very own “Russian” color and style. This wasn’t just self-conscious, yet flowers of your invention. Also, neither of these devices were supplied in reality in Russian church or individual music:

Whole ton scale

This scale is primarily utilized in Russian music to indicate ominous instances or angry personalities. All significant composers have utilized it, namely Rimsky-Korsakov, Claude Debussy, and Tchaikovsky. That went ~ above to end up being common in horror movie music.

The Russian submediant

This is basically a harmonic pattern, albeit in “major” mode. In this pattern, among the upper components transfers native a chromatically dominant pitch come a submediant if all other harmonic parts remain constant. “Scheherezade,” through Rimsky-Korsakov, is the many famous instance of the intake of Russian submediant.

“Octatonic” or decreased scale

In 1867, Rimsky-Korsakov an initial utilized this in “Sadko,” a symphonic poem. The scale went ~ above to come to be a “calling card” that Russian music, a leitmotif that menace and also magic used generally by talented musicians.

Modular rotation 

“The Five” made use of this device to the fullest, make a type of symphonic-poem based structure. This aided them to stop the rigid laws of modulation widespread in the West, further allowing them to craft music entirely based on the “content.” They could ditch the classic “laws that symmetry” and also garner inspirations from intuitive descriptions and also programmatic statements. Mussorgsky supplied it the most, making use of to define the unique Russian style.

Pentatonic scale

Almost every Russian nationalist music composers have embraced this style. It contains only 5 notes in the octave, rather than the officially heptatonic scale (minor, major, etc.). This facet is used to hint a “primitive” folk style, and additionally elements the Asia and the middle East.

Impact of Orientalism

Another hallmark that the team was your dependence ~ above “Orientalism.” they proactively supplied eastern harmonies and also themes, setting themselves personal from western composers. Orientalism is widely thought about as one of the finest traits that Russian music in the West. Rimsky-Korsakov likewise used eastern melodies and Russian folk in his “First Symphony,” which was duly title as the “First Russian Symphony.”

Orientalism was likewise not confined come the consumption of just Eastern melodies. What stood the end was the musical conventions they depicted. They came to be an way to write music top top unmentionable subjects - namely erotic fantasizes and also political themes. “Antar,” a symphonic suite through Rimsky-Korsakov and “Tamara,” a symphonic city by Balakirev stand out together the most commemorated works having orientalism as a an essential feature.

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During the 1870s, the group started fallout’s apart, partially as result of Balakirev’s tap the money from music. The members of “The Five” taught and also influenced several celebrated Russian composers, consisting of Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Alexander Glazunov, etc. Two French symbolists - the legendary Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel were likewise influenced by your “radical” tonal language. All members the the team are hidden in the “Tikhvin Cemetery” in Saint Petersburg. They successfully created an yes, really Russian music style, rejecting the german academicism that overcame the St Petersburg Conservatory. The "Moguchaya Kuchka (The Five)" established a tradition and literally became a mighty handful.