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Encyclopedia > The Five

The Mighty Handful (Moguchaya Kuchka / Могучая Кучка in Russian), better known as The Five in English-speaking countries, was a label applied in 1867 by the critic Vladimir Stasov to a loose collection of Russian classical composers brought together under the leadership of Mily Balakirev with the aim of producing a specifically Russian music rather than imitating older European music.

The other members of The Five were CÚsar Cui, Alexander Borodin, Modest Mussorgsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Before them, Mikhail Glinka had gone some way towards producing a distinctly Russian kind of music, writing operas on Russian subjects, but The Mighty Handful represented the first concentrated attempt to develop such a music.

They influenced and taught many of the great Russian composers who were to follow, including Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich.

The name of Les Six, an even looser collection of French composers, is derived from 'The Five'.

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