Balakirev or the narrative of a foolish quest

Nostalgia. © Charles Thibo

What a strange piece to celebrate autumn! But than again it was written by a strange man. Mily Balakirev. The focal point of the “Mighty Five”, a group of Russian musicians that we have met already several times on this blog. A group that devoted itself to develop a Russian music style, devoid of the Western European influence of the 19th century. Isn’t it ironic that Balakirev’s own style was substantially influenced by Franz Liszt, an Austrian/Czech, and the French composer Frédéric Chopin? But let’s sort this out!

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Torn between chemistry and music

Enjoy a Zen moment with Borodin. © Charles Thibo
Enjoy a Zen moment with Borodin. © Charles Thibo

We are truly blessed in Luxembourg. The Philharmonie de Luxembourg offers a first-rate programme of classical music year after year, and each spring, the city of Echternach hosts the Festival International d’Echternach, often with internationally renown guests. Yesterday I heard the famous Borodin Quartet performing Borodin’s second string quartet, Shostakovich’s eleventh string quartet and Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 1. After a week full of bad, sad news, this concert was a blessing: Four excellent Russian musicians bridging a century of wonderful Russian music!

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Sailing with Sindbad the Seafarer

Sheherazade - source of many inspirations! © Anna Rettberg
Sheherazade – source of many inspirations! © Anna Rettberg

The sea – what a promise! Far away countries. Exotic spices. Incredible wealth. Danger, adventures, challenges. People wearing different attire and practicing a different religion, speaking languages we do not understand. The sea! What a temptation! I am on board of a dhow and I am sailing across the Persian Gulf, heading for the Street of Hormuz and the Indian Ocean. I am an adventurer traveling with Sindbad the Seafearer.

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