Between 1860 and 1870, a group of composers got together in St Petersburg under the leadership of Mili Balakirev. The “Mighty Five”, as they came to be known, aimed to create an independent, distinctly Russian musical language. Michail Glinka was a major influence on the group, which consisted of amateurs with regard to composing, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was the only member who was professionally active in music. Sent to naval cadet college at the early age of 12 to pursue the traditional family career of a naval officer, that was where he received his first lessons in music, became acquainted with the operas of Verdi, Glinka, Meyerbeer, Mozart and von Flotow, studied Beethoven’s piano sonatas and made the acquaintance in 1861 of Mili Balakirev, who became his teacher. Balakirev’s lessons and views influenced Rimsky-Korsakov deeply. Balakirev strongly eschewed Western music, and any academic syntax for that matter; he was convinced that it would be possible to write great works without any technical qualifications. And thus he set his pupils loose right away on major music forms such as symphony and opera.