Field taught him, but only for three lessons. Pushkin was a friend from the age of fifteen; Glinka’s second opera was based on one of Pushkin’s poems. Zhukovsky and he frequented the same circles, Glinka setting some of his poems to music. He met Bellini and Donizetti in Italy, stimulating exemplars. He also met Mendelssohn, Berlioz and Meyerbeer there — the last two stayed firm friends for life. Turgenev didn’t actually meet him until he was depressed and over-drinking in his last years. Tchaikovsky, aged eighteen, met him and described him as proud and vain, but hugely important for Russian music.