Earlier this year, when I was listening to ABC Classic on the radio, the presenter gave a very brief account of the life of Aleksandr Porfirevich Borodin. They said that before Borodin was a composer, he was a chemistry professor. It was actually while he was quite ill, and could not go to work as a chemistry professor, that he did a lot of his composing.

I found this interesting for two reasons: First, the fact that music essentially had the status of “hobby” for him — something he did in his spare time, away from work — but he managed to do really well, and became quite famous for it. I wonder if this was his real ambition, or if he just composed music for himself, and somehow realised he was actually good enough to do it professionally. Continue reading