January 2, 1837: Mily Alyekseyevich Balakirev is born in Nizhny-Novgorod, Russian Empire, the first of four children born to Aleksey Konstantinovich Balakirev, a government official and Yelizaveta Ivanovna Yasherova who is descended from the minor nobility.
September 15, 1853: Mily Balakirev (16) applies to the University of Kazan for admission as an external student. He will be accepted.
February 24, 1856: Mily Balakirev (19) makes his St. Petersburg debut as soloist in the premiere of the first movement of his own Piano Concerto in f# minor in a performance at the university.
April 3, 1856: Scherzo no.1 in b minor by Mily Balakirev (19) is performed for the first time, in St. Petersburg, the composer at the keyboard.
November 27, 1859: The overture King Lear by Mily Balakirev (22) is performed for the first time, at St. Petersburg University.
March 30, 1862: The Free School of Music opens in St. Petersburg in opposition to the official conservatory. Leaders are Director Gavril Lomakin and Assistant Director Mily Balakirev (25).
December 31, 1865: Symphony no.1 by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (21), entirely reorchestrated by Mily Balakirev (28), is performed for the first time, at the Free School of Music, St. Petersburg, conducted by the orchestrator. Advocates of a Russian national school of composition note this as the first performance of a truly Russian symphony.
May 24, 1867: Overture on Czech Themes by Mily Balakirev (30) and Fantasia on Serbian Themes by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (23) are performed for the first time. The works are given in honor of Slav visitors to the All-Russian Ethnographical Exhibition. In writing of this concert, Stasov first uses the phrase Moguchaya Kuchka (Mighty Handful) to denote the Balakirev group.
October 31, 1867: Mily Balakirev (30) conducts his first concert as director of the Russian Musical Society in St. Petersburg.
February 9, 1868: Mily Balakirev (31) takes over sole directorship of the Free Music School, St. Petersburg.
March 4, 1868: Mily Balakirev (31) answers Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s (27) letter of 12 February. He can not perform the dances because the season is over, so he sent them to the Directorate of Imperial Theatres who have agreed to produce them. Balakirev writes that he will not encourage Tchaikovsky as that is for children. Tchaikovsky, he says, is a “completely finished artist. ”
January 16, 1869: Symphony no.1 by Alyeksandr Borodin (35) is performed publicly for the first time, in St. Petersburg, conducted by Mily Balakirev (32). The first movement elicits a cold response, the second receives an encore and the rest creates a sensation. The composer is repeatedly called on stage. See 7 March 1868.
April 3, 1869: The Board of Directors of the Russian Musical Society vote not to elect Mily Balakirev (32) to the board.
May 9, 1869: One day after the last concert of the Russian Musical Society season, Grand Duchess Yelena Pavlovna, Imperial Patroness of the RMS, informs Mily Balakirev (32) that he is removed as director. The action is probably due to Balakirev’s outspokenness and his programming of too many new works.
December 12, 1869: Islamey, an oriental fantasy for piano by Mily Balakirev (32) is performed for the first time, in St. Petersburg.
March 21, 1871: At a low ebb in his career and on the anniversary of his mother’s death, Mily Balakirev (34) is, in his own words, “converted to religion” at home in St. Petersburg.
April 15, 1872: Mily Balakirev (35) conducts the fourth concert of the 1871-72 Free School of Music subscription series. It is poorly attended and the fifth concert will be cancelled for lack of funds. Balakirev will not conduct again for ten years. The Polonaise from Modest Musorgsky’s (33) unperformed opera Boris Godunov is premiered. See 18 July 1872.
August 30, 1878: Vladimir Stasov writes to Mily Balakirev (42) from Paris, “In front of our very eyes, Musorgsky (39), one of our most talented comrades and brothers, is sinking to the bottom, silently plunging deeper and deeper into the water, like a ship in which the cursed worms have gnawed a hole through the bottom. He is surrounded by disgusting drunks and scoundrels of the crudest and lowest sort...they are dragging him down and destroying him because of his weak and impressionable nature...The point is to separate and remove him from that vile drunken crowd and from all the inactivity.”
January 15, 1880: Vladimir Stasov writes to Mily Balakirev (43) in St. Petersburg, “[Musorgsky (40) is] falling apart; since 1 January (OS) he’s been without a job and without any means of support!!! Now he’ll start drinking even harder! Won’t you do something for him, and quickly, if possible? Time won’t wait.”
October 21, 1880: Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (36) writes this day, “Owing to inadequate technique, Balakirev (43) writes...little, Borodin (47) with difficulty, Cui (45) in a slipshod way, Musorgsky (41) sloppily and often absurdly...and all this constitutes the regrettable specialty of the Russian school.” “I have absolutely no desire to mess with [the Free Music School] anymore. And even those whose works it would be a pleasure to perform, for example, Borodin, Musorgsky and Balakirev, aren’t writing much, and if they do write, they don’t orchestrate; you have to run after everyone like a nurse after a child.”
March 30, 1881: The earthly remains of Modest Musorgsky are laid to rest in the Nevsky Cemetery, St. Petersburg. Attending are the other members of the Kuchka, Alyeksandr Borodin (47), Cesar Cui (46), Mily Balakirev (44), and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (37), along with many musicians and music students.
February 27, 1882: Mily Balakirev (45) conducts for the first time since 15 April 1872. He recently reappeared from his self-imposed exile from society to accept, for the second time, the directorship of the Free School of Music, St. Petersburg.
February 15, 1883: The new Tsar, Alyeksandr III, appoints Mily Balakirev (46) as Director of the Imperial Kapella.
October 17, 1894: Mily Balakirev (57) makes his last public appearance as pianist, in Chopin’s birthplace, Zelazowa Wola, on the 45th anniversary of Chopin’s death.
April 8, 1898: At a musical evening in the home of Mily Balakirev (61), the host and Sergey Mikhailovich Lyapunov play through a two-piano version of his “new” symphony to several invited guests, including Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (54), Vladimir Stassov, and Alyeksandr Glazunov (32). At the conclusion there is silence. Only with difficulty do the guests find anything positive to say, and Rimsky never does. See 23 April 1898.
April 23, 1898: Symphony in C by Mily Balakirev (61) is performed for the first time, at the Free School of Music, St. Petersburg conducted by the composer. It is his last appearance as conductor.
November 11, 1907: Alfredo Casella (24), along with the Swiss critic Aloys Mooser, visits Mily Balakirev (70) in his St. Petersburg apartment. Casella recently completed an orchestration of Balakirev’s Islamey and sent it to St. Petersburg, hoping for his approval. It is given gladly. Balakirev, who is living in near seclusion, tells Casella, “The last Frenchman I spoke to was Berlioz.”
February 8, 1909: A concert of the music of Mily Balakirev (72) set for this date, at which the composer was to have conducted, is cancelled because of embarrassingly low ticket sales.
April 23, 1909: The Second Symphony of Mily Balakirev (72) is performed for the first time, at the Free School of Music, St. Petersburg.
May 29, 1910: 06:30 Mily Alyekseyevich Balakirev dies of pleurisy from a cold, in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire, aged 73 years, four months, and 27 days. His body will be buried in the cemetery of the Alyeksandr Nevsky Monastery, St. Petersburg.