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Russian composer and critic César Cui (1835-1918) was the son of a French officer who had remained in Russia after the retreat of Napoleon in 1812. He studied in St. Petersburg, where he became a professor and expert in fortification at the Academy of Military Engineering. He subsequently became a member of the group of Russian composers known as the Mighty Handful. He is chiefly remembered for his colorful short piano pieces and as a critic who was often harsh and intolerant in his judgments. Much of his own music contrasts strikingly with nationalist principles; his 15 stage works from A Prisoner in the Caucasus (Pushkin) (1857-1858) to the four children's operas (1905-1914) reveal the influences of Auber and Meyerbeer, and his vast output of piano pieces and songs displays his fascination with Chopin and his ability to express succinctly a poem's sentiments. The Canticle of the Most Holy Theotokos (Magnificat) for soprano solo and mixed chorus, one of his more ambitious choral works, was written in 1914.

- Joseph Jennings