Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov (Russian: Николай Андреевич Римский-Корсаков, Nikolaj Andreevič Rimskij-Korsakov), also Nikolay, Nicolai, and Rimsky-Korsakoff, (18 March [O.S. 6 March] 1844 – 21 June [O.S. 8 June] 1908) was a Russian composer, one of the Russian composers known as “”. He is particularly noted for a predilection for folk and fairy-tale subjects, and for his extraordinary skill in orchestration, which may have been influenced by his synesthesia. The first part of his surname, Rimsky, is due to the fact that some of his forefathers undertook a pilgrimage to Rome.

Although like his compatriot César Cui, he expended his greatest efforts on his 15 operas, Rimsky-Korsakov’s reputation in the West has long been based on his best-known orchestral compositions—Capriccio espagnol, Russian Easter Festival Overture, and the symphonic suite Scheherazade. Scheherazade is often cited as a textbook example of Russian orientalism. Likewise, while Capriccio espagnol could be considered a continuation of Mikhail Glinka’s Spanish Fantasies pittoresques, the vibrancy of Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestration far outshines Glinka’s effort. It also served as a model for Maurice Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole.

Also significant was Rimsky-Korsakov’s editing of works by fellow members of “The Five”, which in many cases saved works that would otherwise have either languished unheard or become lost entirely. These efforts include the completion of Alexander Borodin’s opera Prince Igor (with Alexander Glazunov), orchestration of passages from Cui’s William Ratcliff for the first production in 1869, and the complete orchestration of Alexander Dargomyzhsky’s swan song, The Stone Guest. While laudable in intent, Rimsky-Korsakov’s editing has not been without controversy, especially in the case of works by Modest Mussorgsky. While Rimsky-Korsakov’s arrangement of Night on Bald Mountain is still the version generally performed today, some of Rimsky-Korsakov’s other revisions, such as that of Boris Godunov, have been replaced by Mussorgsky’s original versions.

In his decades as a professor of harmony and orchestration at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Rimsky-Korsakov taught many students who would later find fame, essentially helping shape an entire generation of budding composers and musicians in Russia. This was a position for which he initially felt ill prepared due to his own lack of training in the technical aspects of composition. Nevertheless, he launched into an intense period of self-education, staying one step ahead of his students while eventually becoming an academic master. His students included Alexander Glazunov, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, Ottorino Respighi, Witold Maliszewski, Nikolai Malko and Artur Kapp.


Edited by FARTOUCH on 25 Sep 2012, 21:23

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