Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) was largely self-taught as a composer. He joined the navy, went to sea and at the age of 27 was appointed Professor of Practical Composition and Instrumentation at the St Petersburg Conservatory. ‘Having undeservedly become a Conservatory professor, I soon became one of its best students,’ he later wrote of himself. His orchestral works Sadko and Antar were written while he was still a naval lieutenant. He was a member of an informal group of Russian composers known as ‘The Five’ (the others were Balakirev, Cui, Mussorgsky and Borodin). Some key works by Mussorgsky and Borodin (including Night on Bald Mountain and Prince Igor) are well known through editions prepared (and often orchestrated) by Rimsky-Korsakov. Influential as a teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov’s pupils included Glazunov and Stravinsky. His best known orchestral works are Scheherazade and Capriccio espagnol and his many operas include The Snow Maiden and The Golden Cockerel. His music made a strong impression in Western Europe when it was performed in Paris in 1907 (with Rimsky-Korsakov as conductor) as part of the first season of Serge Diaghilev’s ground-breaking Russian Concerts.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra