The Case for Rimsky-Korsakov

Richard Taruskin

in On Russian Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942806 | DOI:
The Case for Rimsky-Korsakov

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This chapter charts the emergence and ascension of one of Russia's greatest composers for the lyric stage, contrary to the popular belief outside Russia. Born into a family of military personnel, Rimsky-Korsakov was initiated into the occupation of his forefathers immediately after his graduation from the College of Naval Cadets, St. Petersburg (1862). His long association with Mily Balakirev, both before and after the voyage, resulted in Rimsky-Korsakov's debut as a composer, conducting one of Balakirev symphonies. The high ideals of the Balakirev circle, Russia's Davidsbund, decreed that Rimsky-Korsakov's first opera would be a serious historical drama. For a subject, he chose a particularly high-minded specimen, Lev Mey's Pskovityanka (The maid of Pskov), a play that explores the character of Ivan the Terrible and portrays him as a clairvoyantly enlightened despot.

Keywords: Mily Balakirev; Davidsbund; Pskovityanka; Ivan the Terrible; Rimsky-Korsakov; debut

Chapter.  5743 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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