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Russian Composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov died on this day in 1908

Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov died on this day in 1908 – aged 64


Rimsky-Korsakov came from a family of aristocratic lineage but of modest means. His upbringing was influenced by his mother and grandmother, who were of peasant descent, imparting a profound affection for Russian folk and religious music. Despite displaying early musical aptitude, his childhood ambition was to follow in the footsteps of his elder brother and pursue a career in the Navy.

Following his cadet training, Rimsky-Korsakov received a commission aboard a Russian naval ship commencing a three-year voyage. Throughout his travels, he purchased music scores at every port, which included Rio de Janeiro, New York, and London.

In 1865- 1870 he received instruction in composition from Mily Balakirev, who led the "Mighty Handful" or "Mighty Five," a collective of amateur composers dedicated to infusing the spirit of the Russian people into their music. Among Rimsky's peers were Modest Mussorgsky, an army officer, and Alexander Borodin, a chemistry professor.

In 1871, Rimsky was appointed professor of composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. The directors, who were impressed by his early accomplishments, were unaware of Rimsky's lack of formal education. Rimsky diligently studied through textbooks to stay one lesson ahead of his students. Over time, he even authored textbooks of his own.

His signature works include 'Capriccio Espagnol', the 'Russian Easter Festival Overture' and 'Scheherazade' — three staples of today's symphonic repertoire.



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