The Five, also known as the Mighty Handful and the New Russian School, were five prominent 19th-century Russian composers who worked together to create a distinct Russian classical music: Mily Balakirev (the leader), CΓ©sar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin. They lived in Saint Petersburg, and collaborated from 1856 to 1870.

The musical language The Five developed set them far apart from the Conservatoire. This self-conscious Russian styling was based on two elements:

- They tried to incorporate in their music what they heard in village songs, in Cossack and Caucasian dances, in church chants and the tolling of church bells (to the point where the bell tolling became a clichΓ©). The Five's music became filled with imitative sounds of Russian life. They also tried to reproduce the long-drawn, lyrical and melismatic peasant song, what Glinka had once called "the soul of Russian music." Balakirev made this possible by his study of songs from the Volga in the 1860s.

- The Five also adopted a series of harmonic devices to create a distinct "Russian" style and color different from Western music. This "exotic" styling of "Russia" was not just self-conscious but entirely invented.

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