conservatories established
conservatories established
Modest Musorgsky

Composers like Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin who had abandoned the Westernized Conservatory called themselves the Mighty Handful.

And of course, close also to the melodious Tchaikovsky, not a member of the group, but surely the most gloriously sad and yet melodically soaring of all the composers of this great Russian national school of music.

Unlike most of the group, Rimsky-Korsakov had a regular day job as an inspector of military bands. He was the most orchestrally gifted among the Mighty Handful.

conservatories established
Alexander Borodin

The music of the Mighty Handful soon so dominated Russian taste that Rimsky-Korsakov was invited back to teach at the Conservatory where his portrait still evokes his presence.


Dmitry Shostakovich also studied with Rimsky Korsakov. Though Shostakovich’s musical genius was tormented by censorship under Stalin, he still carried forth the tradition and breathed new musical life into the legacy of Musorgsky.

1998 WETA. All rights reserved.