Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, teacher, and editor who excelled at descriptive orchestrations that evoke a place's atmosphere. A variety of sources influenced Rimsky-Korsakov. His father was a leftist government officer, and his mother was intelligent and could play the piano. His older brother was a naval officer, and his uncle was an admiral of the Russian navy. They instilled in Rimsky-Korsakov a passion for music as well as an unwavering affection for the sea. His family moved to St. Petersburg when he was 12 years old, and he enrolled in the naval academy. He started taking piano lessons and learning the fundamentals of music when he was 15 years old. In 1861, he encountered the composer Mily Balakirev, a great musical culture man, and started composing a symphony with his support.

He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1862. Soon after, he embarked on a long journey aboard the clipper ship Almaz, stopping in New York City, Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. during the American Civil War. The sailors were warmly received by the Russians, who were strategically friendly to the North. Brazil (where he was elevated to midshipman), Spain, Italy, France, England, and Norway were the following ports. In May 1865, the ship returned to its homeport of Kronstadt (Kronshtadt). The voyage reinforced Rimsky-obsession Korsakov's with the sea as a young man. The ocean appears in Scheherazade (1888), Sadko (1898), and The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1900), and the lake appears in The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia (1900). (1907). Rimsky-Korsakov finished the symphony started before his voyage on his return to St. Petersburg, and it was premiered to acclaim on December 31, 1865, when the composer was just 21 years old. On May 24, 1867, he premiered his next major piece, Fantasy on Serbian Themes for orchestra, at a Slavonic music concert orchestrated by Balakirev in St. Petersburg. The occasion was historical, as critic Vladimir Stasov boldly declared in his analysis of the show that Russia will now have its own "mighty little heap" (moguchaya kuchka) of native composers. The name soon became famous, and it was included in music history books alongside Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Aleksandr Borodin, César Cui, and Modest Mussorgsky. The composers were recognized as The Five, and their task was seen as asserting Russia's artistic freedom from the West. Rimsky-Korsakov was the most educated and prolific of the five; he wrote works in various styles but excelled in opera.


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