Apologies for missing this feature last week! Last Saturday was a really hectic day that didn’t afford me a real chance to sit down and go Whew! until rather late, at which point I was still facing my daily writing quota, so that’s what happened. But let’s get back into the swing, shall we? Last time I alluded to a major Russian waiting in the wings, and here’s a major Russian, just not the one I was referring to. I’m talking to day about Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, of whose symphonies I wasn’t even aware until just last week.
His first symphony is a student work of sorts, and in honesty, it rather feels like a student work. He makes use of Russian folk melodies throughout, but his orchestration is right out of the German tradition, and the composer even admitted heavily relying on Berlioz’s Treatise on Orchestration (one of the classic texts on the subject, to this day) and the advice of his teacher, Mily Balakirev. Of course, Rimsky-Korsakov himself would mature into one of the greatest orchestral colorists of all time, but that was still in his future.
Here is the Symphony No. 1 in E minor, by Rimsky-Korsakov.