Last time we looked at Russian nationalism in the music of Alexander Borodin and discussed “The Mighty Handful.” Today, let’s talk about another member of this Russian group of composers: Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov.
Rimsky-Korsakov helped ensure that distinct Russian music carried on into the future by editing, completing, and orchestrating works of other Russian composers. He also taught key composers including Alexander Glazunov and Igor Stravinsky. Like Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov had nationalistic tendencies. One example can be found in his Russian Easter Festival Overture. This particular piece incorporates four themes from the Russian Orthodox book of canticles. It’s no surprise that Rimsky-Korsakov chose this holiday to depict in music as it’s known as the nation’s most significant holiday and the composer most likely had memories of it from growing up in Russia. You can even hear Easter bells toward the end of the work!
Here is a clip with Russian Easter Festival Overture. In your opinion, does it sound Russian?