Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

If he were still alive, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, would be the oldest person now living. However, since he was born in 1844 he didn't make it. He died in 1908 just over 100 years ago. When I was first becoming aware of "classical" music, one of my favorite pieces at that time was the Russian Easter Festival Overture. The tunes in the overture are largely from the Russian orthodox liturgy, based on a collection of old Russian Orthodox canticles called the Obikhod. Rimsky-Korsakov includes several biblical quotations in the score to guide the listener as to his intent, including Psalm 68 and Mark 16. Wikipedia.

Rimsky-Korsakov was a contemporary of Modest Mussorgsky. Mussorgsky is famous as the composer of A Night on Bald Mountain, ruinously featured as one of the compositions in Walt Disney's Fantasia. However, I do not hold that against Mussorgsky. One of my all time favorite compositions is suite, Pictures at an Exhibition. Which, by the way, part of which, The Great Gate at Kiev, was one of the first polyphonic compositions played on the nascent Apple IIgs, the first "multimedia" computer ever sold.

Little did we know when marveling at the sound from the IIgs, that very soon we would be hearing full stereo from an iPhone. I can now listen to the entire composition of Pictures at an Exhibition and carry it around in my pocket.

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