Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Haiku Wednesday: Borodin’s Cats

Leave a comment

Alexander BorodinCats were everywhere:
The dining table, even
Borodin’s shoulders.


Cats—the Internet is full of them.

And, apparently, so was Borodin’s house.

Rimsky-Korsakov tells the story of visiting Alexander Borodin and having to contend with his numerous cats.  When Rimsky-Korsakov would try to shoo a cat away from his plate, as cats sauntered across the dining table, Borodin’s wife would attempt to excuse the cat’s behavior and tell a story about it.  She named one Fisher (Ribolov) because he liked to catch fish with his paw through holes in the ice of the river.  Another cat had the habit of bringing orphaned kittens home, and they too found a home with the Borodins.

But sometimes even Borodin’s limits were tested.  When one nestled upon his shoulders for a snooze, becoming a too warm and heavy scarf, Borodin said, “Listen, Your Majesty, this has gotten out of hand.”  But Borodin didn’t move—and neither did the cat.

And now, some music.  Here are Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor (you can read more about them here).


А. П. Бородин в воспоминаниях современников [A. P. Borodin in the Reminiscences of His Contemporaries], edited by A. P. Zorina.  Moscow: Muzyka, 1985, p 57, which quotes Rimsky-Korsakov’s autobiography, Летопись моей музыкальной жизни [My Musical Life], (various editions available in Russian and English).


Image attribution:  Alexander Borodin, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.