Activities Hobbies The Mighty Handful: Five Russian Nationalist Composers Bringing Russian Music to the Forefront of the 19th Century Music Scene Share PINTEREST Email Print Hobbies Playing Music Music Education Playing Guitar Playing Piano Home Recording Contests Couponing Freebies Frugal Living Fine Arts & Crafts Astrology Card Games & Gambling Cars & Motorcycles Learn More By Espie Estrella Espie Estrella Espie Estrella is a lyricist, songwriter, and member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 02/11/19 The Mighty Handful, or Moguchaya Kuchka in Russian, was the nickname of a group of five mid-19th century Russian composers who worked collectively to bring modern Russian compositions to the forefront of the Russian music scene. Led by the conductor of the Russian Music Society and the Director of the Free School of Music Mily Alekseyevich Balakirev, "The Five" as they were known in Britain refused to play symphonic performances featuring what their subscribers wanted—modern music from Western Europe (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Handel). Instead, they performed their own compositions and those of other modern Russian composers. This Russian nationalist movement was accused of insularity by critics such as Vladimir Stasov, who named them the "Mighty Little Heap." Their strong position split the Russian music community in two and eventually, Balakirev was forced out of both his positions and stopped writing altogether. In the long run, however, their influence in supporting Russian composers was substantial. 01 of 05 Mily Balakirev (1837–1910) Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons Mily Alekseyevich Balakirev was the leader of the group and composed, among others, songs, symphonic poems, piano pieces and orchestral music. It has been mentioned that Balakirev had a reputation for being a tyrant which earned him many enemies during his lifetime. 02 of 05 Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908) Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov is probably the most prolific composer among them. He wrote operas, symphonies, orchestral works, and songs. He also became conductor of military bands, director of St. Petersburg's Free Music School from 1874 to 1881 and conducted various concerts in Russia. 03 of 05 Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881) Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer who served in the military. Although his father wanted him to pursue a military career, it was evident that Mussorgsky's passion was in music. He wrote operas, songs, piano pieces, and melodies. He is especially known for his vivid portrayal of Russian life through his works. 04 of 05 Aleksandr Borodin (1833–1887) Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons Aleksandr Porfiryevich Borodin wrote songs, string quartets and symphonies. His most famous work is the opera "Prince Igor" which was left unfinished when he died in 1887. The said opera was completed by Aleksandr Glazunov and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. 05 of 05 César Cui (1835–1918) Public domain / Wikimedia Commons César Antonovich Cui is perhaps the least known member, but he was also one of the staunch supporters of Russian nationalist music. He was a music critic and professor of fortifications at a military academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. Cui is especially known for his songs and piano pieces. Sources Garden E. 1969. Balakirev's Personality. Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association 96:43-55. Garden E. 1969. Classic and Romantic in Russian Music. Music & Letters 50(1):153-157. Taruskin R. 2011. Non-Nationalists and Other Nationalists. 19th-Century Music 35(2):132-143.