Until the beginning of the 19th century, there really was no way of defining Russian music as, well, “Russian music.” Many of Russia’s musicians studied in the Western European conservatories and assimilated the more “traditional” musical styles. A group of Russian composers decided to change this trend forever. In 1856, five self-trained amateur composers – Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Balakirev and Cui – got together and brainstormed on how they were going to create a genuinely “Russian” musical style. Their compositions included elements of Cossack and Caucasian music and also included “exotic” harmonic structures that were similar to ancient Russian musical traditions. Called “The Mighty Handful,” their work proved to have a lasting impact on future generations of Russian composers who wanted to keep their tradition alive.