Mikhail Glinka was one of the first Russian composers to be associated with the idea of Russian nationalism in music, and he had a great influence on composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, and Mussorgsky. His music gained widespread recognition throughout Russia, and though he composed only a small number of operas and orchestral works, these works have enjoyed a great legacy.
Born in 1804, the young Glinka grew up in a secluded part of rural Russia, and became introduced to music only through local folksong and passing peasant choirs. He first heard classical music around the age of 10, and was introduced to the piano when he travelled to begin his school education in St Petersburg, learning with the Irish pianist and composer John Field. From here his interest in composition flourished, and he regularly frequented the musical salons of the city, making a name for himself amongst local circles. He travelled much of Europe, but ultimately settled back in Russia, where he had a number of successes with operatic works. He drew the attention of Berlioz, who conducted a number of his works in France and wrote an appreciative article about him. Glinka became an admirer of Berlioz’s music, and visited Paris soon after, where he stayed for a number of years. He moved to Berlin only to die suddenly after a short illness in 1857.