Happy birthday, Nikolai

Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) composed the music for The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan in 1899-1900. The libretto was based on a poem with the same unwieldy title by Aleksandr Pushkin. The plot involves, among other things, a rather gullible tsar, his wife the tsarina, her two jealous and vengeful older sisters, an enchantress bent on breaking up the tsar’s marriage, a magical squirrel, a swan who is really a princess in disguise, and a homesick prince whom the swan magically transforms into a bumblebee so he can go pay a little visit to his estranged father. One can’t help wondering if Nikolai Andreyevich had any inkling that the brief orchestral interlude evoking the bumblebee’s flight would become one of his greatest hits. Here it is in its piano version, played by Yuja Wang.

13 Responses to Happy birthday, Nikolai

  1. mvaden1948 says:

    When I lived for a while on the island of Grenada (not to be confused with the city of Granada) I heard it played on steel drums, known there as pan. Is it any wonder the name of the band was Pandemonium?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mvaden1948 says:

    P..S. Love the bumblebee wallpaper!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Birthday, Nikolai. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Abigail says:

    The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan – what a mouthful! “The Flight of the Bumblebee” is an incredible piece. You wonder first how one composes such music and, then, how another manages to play it. Musicians astound me.

    The plot of the the poem intrigues me. Who was this magical squirrel? I’ve only encountered a magical squirrel in the children’s novel by Kate DiCamillo, Flora & Ulysses. I guess adult readers appreciate eccentricities in nature as much as children, but adult literature often excludes such fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the info, it acts as background to the magical story alluded to. I once tried to order this book but my four pence was spent and I was unable to press button A in time to save the call to Ye Olde Waterstones emporium.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Embeecee says:

    I am really enjoying these musical interludes each Sunday! Learning about another composer, that I hadn’t known about. Thank you!

    On an unrelated side note:

    I am supposed to notify you that I’ve nominated you for The Mystery Blogger award. This doesn’t require any action on your part, unless you’re interested in participating. If so, you can go to my post:
    and see what I’m talking about. Thanks for providing me with such interesting reading material all the same! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is one of the rare cases in classical instrumental music where *watching* the performance (as well as hearing it) is important.  Seeing how the pianist’s fingers fly is both delightful and humbling.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The first opera I ever attended, was at The Sadlers Wells, in London; must have been 1947/48,it was Rimsky-Korsakovs “The Snow Maiden”;
    I’ve enjoyed his work ever since. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […] h/t Bluebird of Bitterness Nostalgia h/t Jane D’oh, Ace of […]

    Liked by 1 person

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