One of the Famous Five

March 18, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC | 0 Comments |

Rimsky-Korsakov by Ilya Repin

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, 18 March 1844 to 21 June, 1908

R-K is placed with the so-called ‘Mighty Five’ Russian Composers – Modeste Mussorgsky, Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin and César Cui. Neither hidebound by convention nor restrained by the strictures of an academy, they created an original and inventive ‘Russian’ sound.

Mussorgsky is rightly regarded as the best, and while Borodin is often ranked second, The Varnished Culture disagrees:

It is regrettable, perhaps, that many today know Rimsky-Korsakov mainly for the ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’, an orchestral interlude from the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, which was written as the century turned. Yet, Rimsky-Korsakov had achieved much: not only did he compose his own works and sort out much of the shambles left behind by Mussorgsky, he taught Stravinsky and Prokofiev. He also had a considerable influence upon composers such as Ravel, Debussy and Dukas.”*

Nick ranks high for our money, by virtue of his great Shéhérazade:

[* Michael Steen, The Lives and Times of the Great Composers ( 2003), chapter 20, “Glinka and the Five,” at page 659.]


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