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Alexander Borodin: Composer with a Musical Heart and a Scientific Mind, Part 1 of 2

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In the history of music, Alexander Borodin stands out as a composer known for both his beautiful melodies and his accomplishments in the fields of chemistry and medicine. Although Mr. Borodin once said that he was a “Sunday composer,” his works are masterfully crafted lyrical forms with rich harmonies showing great originality, warmth, and grandiosity. And despite not being numerous, their exceptional quality has earned him a prominent place in music history. Inspired by Russian folk tunes and a dynamic nomadic spirit blended with his own creative ideas, Borodin’s song-like music overflows with idyllic melodies, heroism, and dramatic colors, making it unique and remarkably beautiful!

Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia on November 12, 1833. Young Alexander was home-schooled and received a good education in various languages, including French, English, German and Italian, as well as musical training in the flute and piano, and was self-taught in the cello and violin. At the age of just nine, he wrote his first composition, “Hélène-Polka in D minor,” which was originally for solo piano, but was later arranged for four hands. His first published work appeared in 1849 when he was only a 16-year-old amateur chamber musician in Saint Petersburg.

Alexander not only displayed remarkable musical and linguistic gifts from an early age, but also exhibited a fascination with making fireworks, which soon developed into a lifelong interest in science, especially chemistry.

While he was stimulated regarding his scientific research, Alexander remained enthused about his musical interests as well. When visiting Western Europe, he took the opportunity to play chamber music at various gatherings and also continued to attend many concerts. His efforts in composition were fruitful, with chamber music being his focus. Among the many works produced during this time were his “String Sextet in D minor,” “Sonata in B minor for Cello and Piano,” and “Piano Quintet in C minor.”

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