Borodin, Alexander

Alexander BorodinAlexander Porfiryevich Borodin (12 November 1833 – 27 February 1887) was a Russian Romantic composer and chemist of Georgian–Russian parentage. He was a member of the group of composers called The Five (or “The Mighty Handful”), who were dedicated to producing a specifically Russian kind of art music. He is best known for his symphonies, his two string quartets, and his opera Prince Igor. Music from Prince Igor and his string quartets was later adapted for the US musical Kismet.

Borodin was born in Saint Petersburg, the illegitimate son of a Georgian noble, Luka Gedevanishvili and a 24-year-old Russian woman, Evdokia Konstantinovna Antonova (Евдокия Константиновна Антонова). The nobleman had him registered as the son of one of his serfs, Porfiry Borodin. As a boy he received a good education, including piano lessons. He entered the Medico–Surgical Academy in 1850, which was later home to Ivan Pavlov, and pursued a career in chemistry. On graduation he spent a year as surgeon in a military hospital, followed by three years of advanced scientific study in western Europe.

In 1862 Borodin became a professor of chemistry at the Academy of Medicine, and eventually was able to establish medical courses for women (1872). He spent the remainder of his life lecturing and overseeing the education of others.

He began taking lessons in composition from Mily Balakirev in 1862. He married Ekaterina Protopopova, a pianist, in 1863. Music remained a secondary vocation for Borodin outside of his main career as a chemist and physician. He suffered poor health, having overcome cholera and several minor heart attacks. He died suddenly during a ball at the Academy, and was interred in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, in Saint Petersburg.


Alexander Borodin – Wikipedia