Rimsky-Korsakov and the would-be composers


Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov: Chronique de ma visite musicale. (English title: My Musical Life)
ISBN 978-2-213-63546-0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Rimsky-Korsakov’s memoirs shed an interesting light on his career as a composer and conductor and on musical life in St. Petersburg at the end of the 19th century. He was essentially self-taught and an eager learner which set him apart from his colleagues, called the “Mighty Five”, a group of composers trying to develop a distinctly Russian music style. Reading Rimsky-Korsakov’s memories corrected some of my ideas about the “Mighty Five”: They were nowhere close to a distinct Russian school. They were a group of arrogant and narrow-minded amateurs, blinf followers of their authoritarian leader Mily Balakirev. Much ego, much bravado, little achievements – reminds me of #covefefe!

A good book for people interested in the composer’s “inner workings”. Despite multiple editing, Rimsky-Korsakov repeats himself a lot and indulges in detailed descriptions of mundane things like concert programs. You can skip these pages and enjoy the rest.

One of my favourite pieces written by Rimsky-Korsakov is his symphonic poem “Sheherazade”:

Sailing with Sindbad the Seafarer