Nicolas Andreievich Rimsky-Korsakov - Encyclopedia

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RIMSKY - KORSAKOV, NICOLAS ANDREIEVICH (1844-1908), Russian composer, was born at Tikhvin, Novgorod, on the 18th (N.S.) of March 1844. He was one of the musical amateurs who, with Borodin, Cui and Moussorsky, gathered round Balakirev in St Petersburg in the days when Wagner was still unknown. By 1865 he had written a symphony (in E minor) which in that year was performed - the first by a Russian composer - under Balakirev's direction, and in 1873 he definitely retired from the navy, having been appointed a professor in the St Petersburg Conservatoire. The same year witnessed his marriage to a talented pianist, Nadejda Pourgold, and the production of his first opera, Pskovitianka. This was followed by May Night (1878), The Snow Maiden (1880), Mlada (1892), Christmas Eve (1894), Sadko (1895), Mozart and Salieri (1898), The Tsar's Bride (1899), Tsar Saltana (1900), Servilia (1902), Kostchei the Immortal (1902), Kites (1905). But his operas attracted less attention abroad than his symphonic compositions, which show a mastery of orchestral effect combined with a fine utilization of Russian folk-melody and a happy feeling for "programme music," his writing being peculiarly individual and distinctive in its restraint and avoidance of violent methods. Notable among these works are his first symphony, his second (Op. 9) Antar, his third (Op. 32), and his orchestral suites and overtures, his Spanish Capriccio (1887) being particularly appreciated. He also wrote a number of beautiful songs, pianoforte pieces, &c., and he eventually took Balakirev's place as the leading conductor in St Petersburg, never sparing himself in assisting in the musical development of the Russian school. He died there on the 10th of June 1908.

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