Speaker shares life of composer

Dr. David Kushner speaks to the audience in Phinney Recital Hall on Aleksandr Borodin, a Russian composer and chemist.

Dr. David Kushner speaks to the audience in Phinney Recital Hall on Aleksandr Borodin, a Russian composer and chemist.

Nate Billings

People may struggle to have two careers, but one Russian composer spent several years of his life trying to balance music and chemistry.

Aleksandr Borodin grew up in 19th century Russia and had several accomplishments in both fields of study.

Dr. David Kushner, professor and head of the department of musicology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, spoke to two groups of Missouri Southern students on Oct. 1 in Phinney Recital Hall. He discussed the life of Borodin and the unique nature of Borodin’s education.

The lecture was titled, “Aleksandr Borodin: Chemist and Composer.”

“It [Borodin’s career] is so unusual in terms of having a dual career,” Kushner said.

Kushner has been studying Russian musicology for several years due to his interest in his Russian lineage. He related an hour-long biography to the audiences and gave examples of some of Borodin’s pieces via CD.

Kushner has lectured to audiences in the past.

“I enjoy it tremendously,” he said. “It’s one of the great moments of my life.”

Kushner said he hoped the audiences came to understand Borodin better through the lecture.

Overall, though, the audiences were not filled with music majors.

Several nursing majors came to hear the lecture to hear about the chemist side of the composer.

Jennifer Sommer, junior nursing major said, “[I came] to learn more about the liberal arts.”

She said she had never heard Borodin’s pieces before she came to the lecture.

“It [the lectures] helped broaden your horizons,” she said.

Others students agreed.

“You become more aware of other people’s culture,” Nathaniel Moore, freshman music performance major said

He said the lecture helped him to understand the musical interests of Russian composers.

Janine Byrd, senior nursing major, said the lecture helped her understand an idea outside her major.

“We [technology majors] do not get to hear it often,” she said. “It’s really relaxing. It transports you.”

Byrd said Kushner’s mannerisms and love for the subject shined through in his speech.

“I liked the way he talked,” she said. “He kept me awake the whole time.”

Kushner said it was important for non-majors to come to a lecture about a musician and hoped the students took something intellectual from the lecture.

“I think it [brings] an enjoyment of the music,” he said. “It is also an appreciation of classical music. There is no great technical knowledge needed.”

Kushner said his stay on campus was enjoyable and the faculty was courteous to him during the week.