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The Mighty Handful

The Mighty Handful, also known as The Five in English-speaking countries, was 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 label Mightly Handful ('moguchaya kuchka' in Russian) was first applied to the group in 1867 by the critic Vladimir Stasov. The alternate name The Five is not and was never intended to be a literal translation of this term.