Good luck is finding a new composer to explore and love! Bad luck is finding out that that composer didn’t compose a whole lot of music, because of insane demands upon his time and because he didn’t live terribly long. Alexander Borodin matches all of these. I’ve been aware of his music for years, but only in the last year have I really started to seize upon how wonderful he is. Sadly, Borodin’s output is relatively small, because he wasn’t just a composer. He was a teacher and a writer and, interestingly, a chemist who actually did some very meaningful work in that field. He was also a feminist for his day, supervising the establishment of medical education for women. Composition was never Borodin’s main focus, and what I’ve heard of his music leads me to wonder just what might have come from his pen had he been able to focus all his energies thusly. Of course, we’ll never know, and it could well be that his limited opportunities for composition are what allowed his existing output to be of the high quality that it is.
Borodin was also not the healthiest of men, and he died suddenly while overexerting himself during a bout of ballroom dancing. His heart gave out on the dance floor and almost just like that, he was gone. He left behind this symphony, his Third, with only two movements that weren’t even complete. A shame, that.
Next week…well, apparently I managed to not include Borodin’s First or Second symphonies in this series! Now what to do about that….