Nicholas Andreievich Rimsky-Korsakow (1844-1908)

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Summary -

Russian composer (1844-1908) Rimsky-Korsakow led a very active and prestigious life. He was very active musically and socially, which led to exhaustion. As a consequence, he started experiencing respiratory and coronary difficulties. He eventually died of a myocardial infarction at the age of 64 at the peek of his glory and creativity.

Keywords: N. Rimsky-Korsakow; composer; pathography; coronary disease; myocardial infarction

Nicholas Andreievich Rimsky-Korsakow was a Russian composer, professor of music and author. He was born into a family of Russian landed gentry. Very early, at the age of six, he started attending piano lessons and by the age of eleven he had taken composing lessons, thus exercising his musical talents. However, by family tradition, he was to have a military career and thus, at the age of twelve, he joined the naval corps in St. Petersburg. His stay in the capital brought him even closer to music, he took piano lessons with great enthusiasm and soon joined Balakiriev's and Cui' s musical group. He became the member of the so-called - »The Mighty Five« and following Glinka's principles improved the national Russian music style and opus.13

Having completed his naval officer training he departed for the obligatory »cadet« voyage to Europe and the American continent where he drew special inspiration from local musical folklore. Naval life did not prevent him from composing. Upon his return, after a three-year absence from musical centers, he definitely decided to pursue a musical career and started writing pieces inspired by folk opus, especially Russian. He wrote a number of operas - from »Sadko« to »Golden Chanticler« (whose original performance he did not live to see).4,5

As a very systematic and methodical person he was not satisfied with his somewhat incomplete musical education so in an amazing self-teaching effort he revised all his deficiencies. Thanks to his extraordinary energy and persistent practice, he certainly succeeded in doing so and became perhaps the most brilliant contemporary connoisseur of the theory of music writing. In the early 1870s he devoted himself to teaching instrumentation at the St. Petersburg Academy of Music. He married the pianist Nadezda Nikolaievna Purgold and little by little abandoned his naval career, yet remaining Superintendant of Music Activities at Naval Institutions (he especially studied brass instruments). He was active in managing the famous free music school, and he acted more frequently in the capacity of conductor, and issued a Collection of Russian Folk Songs. He became the leading figure of Russian musical life particularly after the captain of industry, his fan and patron Bieliakov, supported through publication and in other ways the activities of the new circle »Piatnitze« (Fridays) i.e. the group of top musicians meeting regularly on Fridays and executing the most famous pieces of international and Russian authors.

As a mature music personality with an excellent musical education, although not inclined to forcing himself upon others, he figured as a natural musical leader of the group. He is remembered for his »Scheherazade« and »Spanish capriccio«, as well as musical fragments from his operas. Also, he contributed greatly not only to the popularization of his own music, but also of other Russian composers, unselfishly promoting them by conducting their work on his tours throughout Russia and Europe. He played a significant role in the education of a whole range of Russian composers and by, at times, absolutely perfect instrumentation completed the unfinished compositions of his contemporaries (Mussorgsky and Borodin). …