Little of Borodin's music was heard in his lifetime. When he died quite suddenly at the age of 53, he left behind most of an opera that he had been working on for some 17 years. Thanks to its completion by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov, Knyaz Igor is now hailed as a masterpiece of Russian opera. Borodin was a chemist by profession. In association with Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Cui, and Rimsky-Korsakov, he was considered part of the Kuchka (Stassov's expression, variously translated as the Mighty Five, Handful, Heap, and Bunch), and almost totally unknown as a musician outside of this circle. His first opera was a complete disaster, being performed only once. His second opera was never completed (Rimsky-Korsakov later used the idea) and his third involved only a contribution of one act to a joint work with Mussorgsky, Cui, and Rimsky-Korsakov. In Knyaz Igor he aimed at an operatic epic similar to Glinka's Ruslan i Lyudmila, but he died before it was completed.
*Bakers Biographical Dictionary (8th ed.) suggests an earlier ``anonymous'' production in Moscow on 17.10.1867.
contributed by Robert Martindale