Happy Birthday Rimsky-Korsakov!

S. Stasov

Head of a man with dark greying hair, glasses and a long beard
Photo: Wikipedia

Rimsky-Korsakov is one of my favorite composers. Born on March 18, 1844, he was one of the original radical Russian composers who launched Russia’s own musical tradition. In the19th century it was believed that each nation had its own soul, and the arts were an expression of the spirit of each people. Rimsky’s music is strongly influenced by the Russian folk and church traditions. His music is highly melodious and colorful, some of it is unbelievably beautiful and exotically sensual.

His most famous work is Scheherazade, but other works of his have also seeped into the popular culture and are immediately recognizable. He wrote many wonderful operas that unfortunately remain unknown in the US, due to the Cold War and long standing tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

Brilliant recording of Scheherazade with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra:

Sergei Lemeshev sings one of Rimsky’s most famous melodies, The Song of the Indian Guest from the opera Sadko.

Song of India was a hit for Tommy Dorsey in 1938

Flight of the Bumblebee from the opera Legend of Tsar Saltan, arranged for piano by Rachmaninov. Evgeny Kissen performs.

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