BALAKIREV, MILY. (1837-1910). Russian composer and pianist. ALS. (“M. Balakirev”). 1½pp. 8vo. N.p., May 12, 1888. To “Cesar” (likely Russian composer and music critic CÉSAR CUI, 1835-1918). In Russian with translation.
“Yesterday I with… played your suite for four-hands at Stasov’s (V.V) and many admired it. But with that, you start straight with the theme, without any intrada [a musical introduction], at least in… part. It’s impossible to reconcile with that as well as with that final variation with the Coda when it unexpectedly ends. Also I would like to mention something else… That’s why I am seriously asking you not to publish this score. Postpone it until your return when we can discuss (for old time sake) this question…”
Together with Russian critic Vladimir Vasilyevich Stasov (1824-1906), from 1856 to the 1870s, Balakirev led a group of St. Petersburg composers called The Five or the Mighty Handful, comprised, in addition to himself, of César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin who were dedicated to creating a distinctly Russian style of classical music.
Balakirev, a perfectionist who had eschewed formal training lest it lead to Western influences, composed such masterpieces as the piano fantasy Islamey and Symphony No. 1 in C, but it is for the influence he exerted on Russian composers, including Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, for which he is best remembered.
Like Stasov, Cui used his influence as a critic to promote the works of Russian composers. A prolific composer himself, his works include tragic and light operas, sacred and secular choral music, works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, piano works and compositions for voice. Around the time of our letter he was working on his Petite prélude No. 1 and the comic opera Le flibustier. Many of Cui’s orchestral compositions were written for two pianos, four hands.
Folded and in very good condition. Rare.