Born March 18, 1844 in Tikhvine, Russia. Died June 21, 1908 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Rimsky-Korsakov, master of orchestration, defied competition for making popular music shine forth within a full orchestra. Brought up in an aristocratic family, the young boy took his first lessons in composition at the age of nine. At first, he was to carry a sword and embark on a military career rather than play the piano. Rimsky-Korsakov attended the St. Petersburg Marine School while studying with the excellent pianist Theodore Canille who introduced him to the works of Schumann and Mendelssohn.
In 1861, his encounter with Balakirev was decisive. He abandoned his military career and embraced a musical future with other young composers. In the company of Balakirev, Cui, Mussorgsky and Borodin, the young Rimsky-Korsakov founded The Five group which formed an elite avant-garde in Russian music. His first works were immediately successful and he was appointed professor of composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. A reputed teacher, Glazunov, Stravinsky and Respighi were to request his tuition.
An ingenious orchestrator, possessing an exceptional range of colour, Rimsky-Korsakov was quick to help his colleagues and worked on scores by Glinka, Mussorgsky and Borodin. His own, often “programme” music, draws from national folklore and offers beautiful narratives of tales and legends from ancient, pagan Russia. Composer of around fifteen operas, his harmonic ideas were to announce Debussy and Ravel.