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Teddybears' picnic

Chamber music
by Rimsky-Korsakov -
reviewed by

'... idiomatic writing that is a constant delight.'

Rimsky-Korsakov. © 2003 harmonia mundi

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'.

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Copyright © 7 September 2003 Robert Anderson, London UK


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