I am writing my blog on Mikhail Glinka. He is a well-known Russian composer who is also considered to be the father of Russian music and significantly influenced later composers such as Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. He was born in Novospasskoye, Russia on June 1,1804 and he died on February 15,1857 in Berlin, Germany. One of his most famous works is a opera by the name of Russlan and Lyudmila which premiered in 1842. Although there are a number of things I could talk about this composer, I wanted to focus my attention on a piece that he began composing in 1825 called the Viola Sonata in D minor for viola and piano. Being a violist, I greatly appreciate his contribution to our repertoire because compared to the repertoire of a violinist, ours is very limited. I also decided to focus on this piece because I performed it last year and I think it’s beautiful. Although I did learn information about Glinka while learning to play this piece,it wasn't until this blog that I dug deeper and found the history behind it.
This piece is a three- movement composition. Glinka began to compose the first movement, Allegro Moderato, in 1825 while living in St. Petersburg. Because this is one of his early works, he was only moderately trained in the art of music but he had a great passion for music and was completely devoted to it. This movement was built along traditional formal lines but featured a rich, singable melody that Glinka himself created. It was during this movement that Glinka had the musical breakthrough that he longed for and a result, this piece was a big improvement from his previous early works. In 1825, he performed this movement with friends and performed it once on the piano, and once on the viola.
The second movement, Larghetto ma non troppo, is a slower movement that Glinka composed in late April, early May in 1828 while visiting Moscow. There were some rumors that he did not finish this movement but in fact he did. It was the third movement, the rondo, which he abandoned for some time. He planned and started to work on the rondo finale and had it based off of a Russian folk theme. He never finished it but the work he did put into it was not a waste because he used portions of the rondo in a children's polka.There is proof that he did finish the second movement because in 1850, he returned to the first two movements and revised them. However, the sonata was not published until well into the twentieth century. Borisovsky is credited for finishing the sonata. Here is a recording of the first movement. Yuro Bashmet is the performer.Enjoy!