by Rimsky-Korsakov -
'... idiomatic writing that is a constant delight.'
The career of Rimsky-Korsakov is more remarkable than that of most composers.
With a first symphony done, he described himself as 'a mere boy who had composed
something, an ignorant naval officer who could not even play decently'. Still
more astonishing was his production while still in his twenties of The Maid of
Pskov or Ivan the Terrible, an opera partly written while sharing
rooms with a Musorgsky busy at Boris Godunov, and that was later when
revised to become a superb vehicle for Chaliapin as the psychopathic tsar such
as to make Elgar wonder about writing a King Lear for him. When already
appointed professor of composition at St Petersburg Conservatoire, Rimsky decided
his musical equipment was inadequate and he must stiffen his command of harmony
and counterpoint. As he himself confessed: 'Having undeservedly become a
Conservatory professor, I soon became one of its best students'.
Copyright © 7 September 2003
Robert Anderson, London UK