Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov biography
Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolay Andreyevich (1844-1908), Russian composer and musical theorist, one of the greatest composers of the Russian nationalist school, and a great master of orchestration.
Rimsky-Korsakov was born on March 18, 1844, in Tikhvin, near Novgorod. He studied piano as a child. In 1856 he was enrolled at the Naval Academy at Saint Petersburg but continued his musical studies. In 1861 Rimsky-Korsakov became an associate of the Russian composer Mily Balakirev, the dominant figure of a group of young, nationally conscious Russian composers including Aleksandr Borodin, Modest Mussorgsky, and César Cui. Together with Rimsky-Korsakov this group of composers became known as The Five.
After his retirement from active service in the navy in 1873, Rimsky-Korsakov was made inspector of naval bands. The knowledge that he gained in this capacity was subsequently employed to advantage in the scoring of his compositions. From 1871 to his death he was professor of practical composition and instrumentation at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory (now the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory), and from 1886 to 1890 he conducted the Russian Symphony concerts in St. Petersburg. He also completed Borodin's unfinished opera Prince Igor in 1889 and reorchestrated Mussorgsky's opera Boris Godunov in 1896 after the deaths of the composers. Rimsky-Korsakov himself died on June 21, 1908, in St. Petersburg.
Rimsky-Korsakov is remembered today more for the freshness and brilliance of his instrumentation than for the originality of his musical ideas. His influence as an orchestrator was exercised directly on his pupils, notably the Russian composers Igor Stravinsky and Aleksandr Glazunov, and indirectly through his treatise The Foundations of Instrumentation, published posthumously in 1913.
Among Rimsky-Korsakov's works are the operas Snegoyrachka (Snow Maiden, 1880-81) and Le coq d'Or (The Golden Cockerel, 1906-7) and the symphonic works Capriccio Espagnol (1887), Scheherazade (1888), and the Russian Easter Overture (1888). His autobiography, My Musical Life, was published posthumously in 1909 (trans. 1942).