During his lifetime, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908) was a composer whose work had great influence not only in his native Russia but also internationally. While he remains well-known in Russia—where many of his fifteen operas and various orchestral pieces are still in the standard repertoire—very little of his work is performed in the West today beyond Scheherezade and arrangements of The Flight of the Bumblebee. In Western writings, he appears mainly in the context of the Mighty Handful, a group of five Russian composers to which he belonged at the outset of his career. Rimsky-Korsakov and His World finally gives the composer center stage and due attention.
In this collection, Rimsky-Korsakov’s major operas, The Snow Maiden, Mozart and Salieri, and The Golden Cockerel, receive multifaceted exploration and are carefully contextualized within the wider Russian culture of the era. The discussion of these operas is accompanied and enriched by the composer’s letters to Nadezhda Zabela, the distinguished soprano for whom he wrote several leading roles. Other essays look at more general aspects of Rimsky-Korsakov’s work and examine his far-reaching legacy as a professor of composition and orchestration, including his impact on his most famous pupil Igor Stravinsky.
The contributors are Lidia Ader, Leon Botstein, Emily Frey, Marina Frolova-Walker, Adalyat Issiyeva, Simon Morrison, Anna Nisnevich, Olga Panteleeva, and Yaroslav Timofeev.
“Rimsky-Korsakov and His World is to be welcomed not just for the many riches within it, but for its implicit call to continue the work of reconsidering the composer to whom it is so devoted.”—Philip Ross Bullock, Slavonic and East European Review