But then they might stop to reflect: “Which compositions of his exactly do I know? And how rarely one hears his music – it is practically not performed at all!”
It’s a sad fact, but true. Dargomyzhsky’s name found itself obscured, overshadowed by others, of course, also brilliant and glorious Russians – an older contemporary Glinka, younger ones – Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Borodin, Tchaikovsky. They were all his friends, and all valued his talent extremely highly. Mussorgsky wrote referring to him as a “Great teacher of musical truth”. After all, Dargomyzhsky brought to Russian art something it had not known before that: musical realism.
Dargomyzhsky, in effect, “predicted” Mussorgsky’s musical dramas; without him we would never have known operas of Shostakovich, and the entire opera art of the 20th century in effect followed in the course Dargomyzhsky pioneered and chartered.
We shall yet be dwelling today on all that was prophetic in Dargomyzhsky’s art. But you have to agree, no super new ideas are worth much if there is a conspicuous absence of that for which art exists - beauty. And it is without doubt that the music of this composer overflows with wondrous beauty.