Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

1844 - 1908



Born near Saint Petersburg in a town called Tikhvin on March 18th 1844, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, member of The Five and a strong believer in nationalist music. Many of his works have become important parts of the regularly performed orchestral repertory – works such as Capriccio Espagnol, the Russian Easter Festival Overture, and the symphonic suite Scheherazade. He undertook a substantial career in the military and so much of his compositional study early in his career took place in small bursts whilst he was onshore. He eventually decided that he should terminate his career in the military and devote himself to music. Through this time he had been studying Hector Berlioz’ treatise on orchestration and had been working through his compositions with Balakirev. As such, he had gained quite a strong hold on traditional Western compositional methods and techniques and was appointed professor of composition, harmony and orchestration at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1871. In this time he spent significant amounts of time in personal study in order to master the techniques of composition, whilst also incorporating influences from other members of The Five. 

Rimsky-Korsakov is a very important figure in the progression of Russian music – he composed a significant body of Russian nationalist compositions; he helped to edit and prepare many of the works by The Five for performance; he influenced a generation of future composers and musicians for decades whilst working as an educator. He is therefore often considered the main architect of what the public may think of as the Russian style of composition. He died on June 21st 1908 near Luga from heart problems.


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