This work may not even actually be a symphony, but I’m featuring it nonetheless, because for a time Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov actually did consider it a symphony (his Symphony No. 2), before redubbing it a “symphonic suite”, called Antar. His inspiration here was an Arabian story about a man named Antar who saves a gazelle from a bird of prey, and when the gazelle turns out to be a magical Queen, she decides to reward him by showing him the three greatest joys of life (vengeance, power, and love). Rimsky-Korsakov had a love of Asian and Eastern European myths and tales, which most notably manifested in his masterpiece Scheherazade, but Antar is also a fascinating listen, whether it’s a symphony or not.
Here is what might be Rimsky-Korsakov’s Symphony No. 2…or what might not be his Symphony No. 2.