RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, NICOLAS ANDREIEVICH (1844-1908), Russian composer, was born at Tikhvin, Novgorod, on March 18, 1844. He spent six years (1856-62) in the Naval college at St. Petersburg, and at the end of that time received a commission and spent three years afloat. But as a cadet he had been one of the musical amateurs who, with Borodin, Cui and Moussorgsky, gathered round Balakirev in St. Petersburg in the days when Wagner was still unknown. During his cruise he had written a symphony (in E minor) which in that year was per formed—the first by a Russian composer—under Balakirev's direction, and in 1873 he definitely retired from the navy, having been appointed a professor in the St. Petersburg Conservatoire. The same year witnessed his marriage to a talented pianist, Na dejda Pourgold, and the production of his first opera, Pskovi tianka. This was followed by May Night (1878), The Snow Maiden (188o), Mlada (1892), Christmas Eve Sadko (1895), Mozart and Salieri (1898), The Tsar's Bride (1899), Tsar Saltana (I 900) , Servilia ( I902), Kostchei the Immortal (19o2), The Tale of the Invisible City of Kitezh (19o5), and Le Coq d'Or (I 91 0). For all of these, with the exception of Mozart and Salieri, he chose Russian national subjects. But his operas attracted less attention abroad than his symphonic compo sitions, which show a mastery of orchestral effect combined with a fine utilization of Russian folk-melody. Notable among these
works are his first symphony, his second (op. 9) Antar, his third (op. 32), and his orchestral suites including the well known Sche herazade and overtures. He also wrote a number of beautiful songs, pianoforte pieces, etc., and he eventually took Balakirev's place as the leading conductor in St. Petersburg, where he died on June 20, 1908.
The influence of Rimsky-Korsakov on the Russian composers of his day was very great. His instrumentation was fresh and original ; he was direct and clear, with something of a painter's vision, and he brought a wealth of learning and study to bear on his subject. Many came directly under his influence as his pupils at the Conservatoire, while many more studied his great treatise of The Foundations of Instrumentation. He did much also to promote the better appreciation of Moussorgsky and others of his fellow Russians, although during recent years he has been severely criticized for his alleged tampering with Moussorgsky's original text in his edition of Boris Godounov.
See his own History of My Musical Life (which has been translated into English) ; Stassov, Rimsky-Korsakov (189o) ; Rosa Newmarch, The Russian Opera (1914) and Montagu Nathan, History of Russian Music (1915).