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Musorgsky and His Circle

Stephen Walsh

An accessible and thought-provoking biography of Musorgsky and his circle, creators of some of the best-known and most admired Russian music of the nineteenth century.

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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.


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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