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Composer, pianist, conductor. Born in Nizhny Novgorod (1836) in the family of a poor clerk called Alexei Balakirev (1809–1869). Debuted as a pianist in St Petersburg (1855). Founding member of the Russian Five (1857). Director of the Court Capella and founder of its symphony orchestra (1883–94). Invited Léon Benois to reconstruct the Capella buildings, now known as the Mikhail Glinka Academic Capella (1886–89). Died in St Petersburg and buried at the St Alexander Nevsky Monastery (1910).