ROMAN – KORSAKOV: MUSIC OF THREE ELEMENTS – SEA, SPACE AND TALES
Listen to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov. You won’t notice how you are transported into the world of Tales, magic, science fiction. “The Night Before Christmas”, “Golden Cockerel”, “Snegurochka” … These and many other works of the “Great Storyteller in Music” by Rimsky-Korsakov are imbued with a childhood dream of a fabulous life, of good and justice. The heroes of epics, legends, myths come from the realm of music to your dream world. With each new chord, the boundaries of the tale are pushed wider and wider. And, now, you are no longer in the music room. The walls have dissolved, and you are a participant in the battle with the sorcerer. And it depends only on your courage how the fabulous battle with evil ends! Victory of Good.
The composer dreamed about it. He wanted every person on Earth, all of Mankind, to become a pure, void-free creation of the Great SPACE. Rimsky-Korsakov believed that if a person learns to “look at the stars”, the world of people will become better, more perfect, kinder. He dreamed that sooner or later Harmony of man and infinite Cosmos would come, just as the harmonious sound of a “small” note in a huge symphony creates beautiful music. The composer dreamed that there were no fake notes or bad people in the world. Another element sounds in the music of the great musician – this is the OCEAN melodies, the rhythms of the underwater kingdom. The magical world of Poseidon will forever enchant, bewitch you. But your hearing is not captivated by the songs of the insidious mythical Sirens. You will be fascinated by the beautiful pure music of the open sea, sung by Rimsky-Korsakov in the operas Sadko, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, and the Suite Scheherazade.
Where did the theme of the Tale come from in the work of Rimsky-Korsakov, why were he attracted to the ideas of Cosmos and the Sea? How did it happen that it was these elements that were destined to become guiding stars of his work? What roads did he come to his muse? Let’s look for answers to these questions in his childhood and youth. Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky – Korsakov was born on March 6, 1844. in the small town of Tikhvinsk, Novgorod province. In the family of Nikolai (in the family circle his name was Nicky) there were many famous naval military officers, as well as high-ranking sovereign servants.
Nikolai’s great-grandfather, Warrior Yakovlevich Rimsky – Korsakov (1702-1757), devoted himself to naval military service. After graduating from the Naval Academy, he guarded the water borders of Russia in the Baltic in the waters of St. Petersburg. He became vice admiral, led the Kronstadt squadron. Niki’s grandfather, Pyotr Voinovich, chose a different life path. He served the state in the civil field: he was the leader of the nobility. But he became a legendary person in the family not because of this. He became famous for his desperate act: he abducted his beloved, without receiving consent from her parents for marriage. They say that Nikolai, the future great composer, was given a name in honor of his uncle, Nikolai Petrovich Rimsky – Korsakov (1793-1848). He rose to the rank of vice admiral. He made several heroic sea voyages, including participated in circumnavigation. During the war of 1812, he fought on land against the French near Smolensk, as well as on the Borodino field and near Tarutino. Received many military awards. In 1842 for services to the fatherland he was appointed director of the Marine Corps of Peter the Great (Naval Institute).
The composer’s father, Andrei Petrovich (1778-1862), reached great heights in the sovereign service. He became vice-governor of the Volyn province. However, for some reason, perhaps due to the fact that he did not show the required rigidity against freethinkers – opponents of the tsarist regime, he was dismissed in 1835. from a service with a very low pension. This happened nine years before the birth of Nicky. Father went broke. Andrei Petrovich did not take a serious part in raising his son. The father’s friendship with Nikolai was impeded by a huge age difference. When Nicky was born, Andrei Petrovich was already over 60 years old. The mother of the future composer, Sofya Vasilievna, was the daughter of a wealthy landowner Skaryatin and a serf woman. Mom loved her son, but she also had a very big age difference with Nicky – about 40 years old. In relations between them, sometimes there was some tension. Perhaps the main reason for this was not even age-related problems. She was depressed by the lack of money in the family. She hoped that her son, maybe even against his own will, would choose, when he became an adult, the well-paid profession of a naval officer. And she pushed Nikolai towards this goal, fearing that he would not turn off the intended path. So, Nika’s family did not have peers. Even the sibling was 22 years older than Nikolai. And given that the brother was distinguished by a strict disposition (they named him in honor of his great-grandfather Warrior), they practically did not have any special emotional closeness. Nicky, however, had an enthusiastic attitude towards her brother. After all, the Warrior chose the difficult and romantic profession of a naval sailor!