18 March 1844 - 21 June 1908 (age 64)

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a 19th century Russian composer and officer in the Russian Navy.

His best known work is probably 'The Flight of the Bumblebee' but he produced much interesting work, including 15 operas.

He was a composer, naval officer, teacher, conductor, writer and well known society figure.





portrait of Rimsky-Korsakov


Born: Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov. 6 March 1844, Tikhvin near Novgorod, Russia
Father: Andrey Rimsky-Korsakov (1784-1862), a governor of the Volyn province
Mother: Sofya (1802-1890), landowner's daughter.
Siblings: brother Voin (22 yrs older) was a navigator and explorer
Wife: Nadezhda Purgold, pianist.
Children: seven, including Andrey, Mikhail and Vladimir
Died: 21 June 1908, Lyubensk, Russia
Cause of death: angina
Grave: Alexander Nevsky Monastery, St Petersburg, next to Borodin, Glinka and Mussorgsky. see findagrave

Scheherazade - op35
This is the full version (50minutes)


Style/Period: Nationalist / Romantic
Output: considerable
Influenced by: Balakirev, Berlioz, Glinka, Liszt, Mozart, Wagner, folk songs, oriental melodies
Influenced: Debussy, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Respighi, Shostakovich, Stravinsky

11 symphonic works including:
- 3 symphonies
- Sadko (symphonic poem)
- Scheherazade
- Symphoniette on Russian Themes
- Capriccio Espagnol
15 operas including:
- The Snow Maiden
- Mozart and Salieri
- The Tale of Tsar Sultan (which includes the Flight of the Bumblebee and The Wedding March)
- Le Coq d'Or
3 concertos including:
- Trombone Concerto
- Piano Concerto
- Fantasia for Violin
79 Romances (voice and piano)
2 collections of Russian folk songs
Other works including sacred music, piano pieces and instrumental works.
3 Books including:
- Text book on Harmony
- The Principles of Orchestration
- The Legend of My Musical Life


- age 12: Entered St.Petersburg Naval Academy. While there first he took cello lesson and later piano and composition lessons from Théodore Canillé.
- age 17: Canillé introduced him to the 'Balakirev Circle' of amateur musicians which included Mussorgsky, Borodin and Cui. With the guidance of Balakirev they followed the influence of Glinka. They were later known as " The Five".
- age 18-21: travelled round the world in the Russian navy. He managed to compose his first Symphony during the trip and it was performed by Balakirev's Free Music School on his return.
- age 27: became a professor at the St.Petersburg conservatory and resigned his naval commission 2 years later.
- age 28: Married Nadezhda Purgold (see above photo), a talented musician and pianist. Mussorgsky was their best man. Nadezhda became a musical partner as well as a domestic partner, similar to the Clara and Robert Schumann relationship.
- age 29: appointed to the newly created post of Inspector of Naval Bands
- age 30-37: Director of the Free School. Continued as Inspector of the Naval Bands till he was 40.
- age 37-44 Edited Mussorgsky's works (he had died in 1881) and completed Borodin's Prince Igor.
- age 40: As a prominent member of The Belyayev Circle (a group of composers and musicians under the patronage of Belyayev - a rich industrialist) he organised the Russian Symphony Concerts.
- age 45: He became very interested in Wagner's works following seeing a performance of 'The Ring' in St.Petersburg. From then on he dedicated himself to writing opera for the rest of his creative life.

Flight of the Bumblebee
played by Maksim Mrvica

Le Coq d'Or (The Golden Cockerel)
Théâtre Musical de Paris - Châtelet

Clarinet Concerto
The Swedish national windband . Soloist: Magnus Holmander.

Rimsky-Korsakov in Art

Links - where to go for more information 

Russian Composers: more profiles here at 52composers.com

Answers.com Collection of reference sites including an excellent Wikipedia entry

Russia Now An interesting short biography

St.Peterburg Guide another brief biography

Rimsky-Korsakov Museum the museum in his former home in St.Petersburg

New! Comments

Feel free to leave a comment. Thank you.

Custom Search

poster, prints, cards, gifts
click on image for info

Art Prints