About the Bard Music Festival

Leon Botstein on Rimsky-Korsakov the Composer

Leon Botstein, President of Bard College and Artistic Codirector of Bard Music Festival speaks about the 2018 Bard Music Festival featured composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, in this brief preview video. 

Rimsky-Korsakov and His World

Join us for an exploration of the life and times of the composer who played a central role in the definition of what we know as the Russian style in music: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908). The most assiduous and prolific of the Russian nationalist composers known as The Mighty Five—Mily Balakirev, Modest Mussorgsky, Alexander Borodin, César Cui were the other four—Rimsky-Korsakov developed and refined many of the ideas born in the hothouse of their collective creativity, forging a highly recognizable Russian style and passing it on to his many students. The Bard Music Festival looks at the shape of his career, from naval officer to composer of great originality. His work and influence, both musically and politically, are examined in the context of compositions by the Mighty Five, as well as Mikhail Glinka, Alexander Glazunov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Alexander Scriabin, Sergey Taneyev, Igor Stravinksy, Sergey Prokofiev, and many others.

Bard Music Festival weekends include orchestral concerts, chamber and choral music performances, panel discussions, special events, and opera in concert.

Festival Program


Bard Music Festival

Founded in 1990, the Bard Music Festival has established its unique identity in the classical concert field by presenting programs that, through performance and discussion, place selected works in the cultural and social context of the composer’s world. Programs of the Bard Music Festival offer a point of view. The intimate communication of recital and chamber music and the excitement of full orchestral and choral works are complemented by informative preconcert talks, panel discussions by renowned musicians and scholars, and special events. In addition, each season Princeton University Press publishes a book of essays, translations, and correspondence relating to the festival’s central figure.

By providing an illuminating context, the festival encourages listeners and musicians alike to rediscover the powerful, expressive nature of familiar compositions and to become acquainted with less well-known works. Since its inaugural season, the Bard Music Festival has entered the worlds of Brahms, Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss, Dvořák, Schumann, Bartók, Ives, Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Schoenberg, Beethoven, Debussy, Mahler, Janáček,
Shostakovich, Copland, Liszt, Elgar, Prokofiev, Wagner, Berg, Sibelius, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, Schubert, Carlos Chávez, Puccini, and Chopin. The 2018 festival will be devoted to the life and work of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and 2019 will see the exploration of the life and legacy of Erich Wolfgang Korngold.