Alexander Sergeyevich Dargomyzhsky (1813 - 1869) was a Russian nationalist composer best known for his operas. Dargomyzhsky's only musical education was provided by a set of exercise books lent to him by Mikhail Glinka, whom he met in 1833. Dargomyzhsky's first opera, Esmeralda (1839), is basically French in character, but with Rusalka (1856) he showed a marked gift for re-creating specifically Russian characters, scenes, and speech rhythms. His most important work is a word-by-word setting of Aleksandr Pushkin's play The Stone Guest (first performed posthumously in 1872), which consists almost entirely of a type of recitative and short lyrical passages. In this opera Dargomyzhsky reproduced with striking accuracy not only the rhythms but the stresses and pitches of Russian speech, exercising a strong influence on Modest Mussorgsky and later Russian composers. He also wrote songs of lasting value.