Absolute Music


I promise to try and get away from the stranglehold of Middle Europeans and explore some more western composers, but I can’t help recalling that commercial for 100 famous classical music themes.

You know, the one that intones- “And who can forget Polovtsian Dance #17 (Stranger in Paradise) by Borodin?” as screen after screen of titles scrolls up.

Yeah, well, Borodin.

His day gig was as a chemist where he is justly famous for his research on aldehydes and unjustly famous for the Hunsdiecker reaction.

His ouvre as a composer reflects his amateur status, consisting of 2 Symphonies and an Opera, Prince Igor, that contains the Polovtsian Dances and was finished by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov after his death in 1887, as well as some Chamber Music.

He was a big proponent of absolute music as opposed to the programmatic music embraced by many of the popular composers of the time (for instance the Sibelius piece we looked at last night).

His most powerful statement of this philosophy is found in his 2 String Quartets.  His second one is more famous, but I have included both below the fold.  Each is perfomed by The Borodin Quartet which, since they are moderately famous and have recorded many composers, made my search… interesting.

The First Quartet (which starts on the left) was posted by novichok3, the Second by truecrypt.

#1 part 2

#1 part 3

#1 part 4

#1 part 5

#2 part 1

#2 part 2

#2 part 3

#2 part 4


  1. At least I’m learning something.

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