Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2021

Academic Department

Fine and Performing Arts

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Douglas Bomberger


Russian national music was developed in the late nineteenth century by a group of composers called the Mighty Handful. This group consisted of five composers named Balakirev, Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Cuí. They were inspired by the philosophical movement of realism as well as previous composers in both the Nationalist and cosmopolitan styles. This along with various musical elements including harmonizations, a better Russian declamation, and the implementation of elements of folk music led to Russian Nationalist music. The Mighty Handful was formed in the 1860s and 1870s. The members were all involved in the musical life of St. Petersburg, even though few of them were professionally musicians. Balakirev acted as the leader of the group and sought to continue the work of a composer named Glinka in incorporating folk elements into Russian music. The group used musical elements such as unusual scales, modal harmonizations, and different textures to create the Russian sound. They also incorporated a more faithful declamation style in the Russian language, the literary movement towards realism, and changes to the perception of time in their music. Through these elements, they created music that sounded distinctly Russian. This paper will introduce and explain many of the stylistic innovations the Mighty Handful used.


Scholarship and Creative Arts Day (SCAD); MU 495 Seminar in Musicology

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Music Commons