1790s: Muses and Cannons
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1790s: Muses and Cannons book
On 28 April 1791 there took place what was probably the most grandiose and splendid gala known in eighteenth-century Russia. Oriented on the Prussian model of economy and discipline, Paul I believed that the necessary reforms could put the Russian house in order and save the Empire from corruption and self-destruction. Both Byelorussian officers, Joseph Kozlovsky and Mikhail Kleofas Oginsky, wrote polonaises but while the one glorified the Russian Empire, the other strove to elevate the spirits of the Polish insurgents while the revolt was underway then mourned his conquered homeland when the revolt was suppressed. 'Kozlovsky's great specialty was polonaise writing; indeed, he seemed to be able to turn anything he touched into polonaises, including themes from popular quintets by Pleyel, even Mozart arias'. It is little wonder therefore, that Kozlovsky's triumphal polonaise was probably what had subconsciously prompted Borodin to use it for a Russian epic work and for his listeners to accept it as natural.