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 Alexander Borodin

Born:   November 12, 1833
Deceased:   February 27, 1887

Russian composer and chemist


Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin was born in Petersburg on November 12(October 31), 1833. He was a natural child of a 62-year-old Georgian prince of the Imereti dynasty and 25-year-old Eudoxia Antonova. The newly born baby was registered as the son of the prince’s serf Porfiriy Borodin and his wife Tatyana Grigoryevna.

Till the age of seven the boy was the serf of his father, who affranchised his son shortly before his own death in 1840 and bought a four-storeyed house for him and his mother Eudoxia given in marriage to the medical officer Kleyneke. Morals of the early 19th century debarred nonmarital relationship and thus Alexander Borodin was introduced to the community as Eudoxia’s nephew.

Since his serf origin prevented the boy from attending a grammar school, he studied all subjects, including German and French languages, at home and got very good education. As a child yet he manifested a gift for music. At the age of 10 he got interested in chemistry.

Alexander Borodin graduated from the Medical Surgery Academy in Petersburg in 1856. Afterwards chemistry along with music became his lifework: Borodin prepared, conducted and printed 21 chemical researches. His name in chemistry can be placed on a par with outstanding scientists of Western Europe.

The creative legacy of Alexander Borodin, who combined scientific and teaching career with worship to the art, is not so big in amount, but it made a most valuable contribution to the treasury of Russian classical music.

He is considered one of the founders of classical symphony and quartet genres in Russia. Borodin’s most remarkable work is the Prince Igor opera, which is justly recognized to be a paragon of national heroic epos in music.  The composer worked on it for 18 years and yet did live long enough to complete it. The opera was completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov after the death of Borodin.

Alexander Borodin died in Petersburg on February 27 (15), 1887.

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