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Musorgsky and His Circle

Stephen Walsh

Musorgsky and His Circle: A Russian Musical Adventure, by Stephen Walsh, is an accessible and thought-provoking biography of Modest Musorgsky (or ‘Mussorgsky’), creators of some of the best-known and most admired Russian music of the nineteenth century.

Date Published
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The extraordinary group of Russian composers who came together in St Petersburg in the 1860s – long known as ‘The Mighty Handful’, but, as the moguchaya kuchka, better translated as ‘the great little heap’ – gave rise to one of the most fascinating and colourful stories in all musical history.

Stephen Walsh, author of a major biography of their direct successor, Stravinsky, has written an absorbing account of Musorgsky and his circle – Borodin, Cui, Balakirev and Rimsky-Korsakov. With little or no musical education they created works of lasting significance – Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Borodin’s Prince Igor and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade. Written with deep understanding and panache, The Kuchka, is highly engaging and a significant contribution to cultural history.

Critic Reviews

'A fascinating story of rival ideological factions and vendettas ... Stephen Walsh has told this story superbly in a consistently gripping narrative ... Only someone with the deepest knowledge and understanding could write so lucidly, sympathetically and convincingly. I confidently predict that this wonderful book will be among the pick of the year.'

Classical Music Magazine
Critic Reviews

Stephen Walsh is as good a guide as you could want ... his writing sound, sharp-witted and musically insightful ... Brilliant.

Sunday Telegraph
Critic Reviews

Musorgsky and his Circle offers many original insights ... an illuminating study of the dark preoccupations and insecurities that beset the heart of Russian culture, then as now.

Norman Lebrecht, Wall Street Journal
Critic Reviews

A magisterial new study of one of the most melancholy chapters of musical history ... It constructs a richly detailed and absorbing saga of a remarkable cultural phenomenon.

Rupert Christiansen, Literary Review

Stephen Walsh is a leading English writer and broadcaster on classical music, the author of several books on Igor Stravinsky including a major two-volume biography, a large-scale study of the Russian nationalist group of composers known as the kuchka or Mighty Handful, and most recently a highly praised biography of Claude Debussy. He was for many years deputy music critic…

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