Souvenir d'Alexandre Borodine
Elegy for String Quartet
Mikhail Kourbanov (sometimes Kourbanoff or Kurbanov 1857-1941) was a man of many talents. He was a naval officer, an electrical engineer and a musician. As a young man, he studied violin and also took some composition lessons from Rimsky Korsakov. Kourbanov wrote very little music and is remembered mostly for his memoirs of the Belaiev Circle of composers—Rimsky Korsakov, Glazunov, Liadov and Borodin. Belaiev, a millionaire, amateur violist and chamber music enthusiast was the founder of probably the most famous regular string quartet gatherings ever held—–Les Vendredis or Fridays—–the evening on which his quartet met to perform at his mansion after which a massive banquet was always served. These weekly gatherings continued from the early 1880’s until 1903 just before his death. Belaiev used his millions to found a publishing firm whose sole purpose was to publish the music of Russian composers. Anyone who was anybody in the Russian musical world, including such luminaries as Tchaikovsky, Taneyev, Glazunov, Borodin, Rachmaninov and Gliere to name but a very few— sooner or later attended these gatherings and often brought a composition with them to be performed by Belaiev’s string quartet. Playing first violin, for many years in the Belaiev Quartet was none other than Mikhail Kurbanov, a fine violinist by all accounts.
Kurbanov had been a very close friend of Borodin who had died in 1887. His Souvenir d’Alexandre Borodine, an elegy for string quartet, was published in 1915 nearly 30 years after his friend’s death. However, our research leads us to believe that Kurbanov composed it in the early 1890’s. In one movement, the music recalls not only that of the Borodin but of the tonal world of Rimsky Korsakov and the Belaiev Circle. Only slightly tinged with sadness, the music is a reverent tribute and includes the melody from the aria The lament of Jaroslawna from Borodin’s opera Prince Igor.
Unavailable for nearly a century, we feel this appealing emotive piece not only makes a fine elegy where a musical tribute is required but also can serve as an encore or program work.
Parts & Score: $14.95