b St Petersburg, 12 November 1833
d St Petersburg, 27 February 1887, aged fifty-three
The illegitimate son of a prince, he was given the name of one of his father's servants. He had a mediocre upbringing, and initially neglected music in favour of chemistry. He entered the Academy of Physicians at age seventeen, graduated, and practised medicine. Meeting Mussorgsky stimulated his interest in music, and in 1862 he met Balakirev, who persuaded him that his destiny was to compose; but his duties as professor of the Academy of Physicians, his public status as scientist and research chemist, and constant financial difficulties, reduced his musical output. He died of a burst artery in the heart. The musical Kismet is based on his themes.
Concerto for Flute in D major and minor, with piano 1
Symphony No 1 in E flat major
The Bogatirs, opera-farce
Symphony No 2 in B minor
Prince Igor, opera (left unfinished and completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov, qv)
String Quartet No 1 in A major
In the Steppes of Central Asia, orchestral 'picture'
String Quartet No 2 in D major
Petite Suite for piano
Scherzo in A flat for piano
Serenata alla Spagnola, a movement for the string quartet 'B-la-F' (the other movements were by Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov and Glazunov, qv)