Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”: Entering the Realm of the Imaginal

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1888 symphonic suite, Scheherazade, inhabits the realm of the imaginal. As its vivid “characters” spring to life, we encounter the magic and fantasy of a story within a story. Painted with a shimmering color palette, the four-movement suite was conceived by one of music history’s most innovative masters of orchestration. Rimsky-Korsakov touched on the dreamy, exotic nature of this music when he described Scheherazade as “a kaleidoscope of fairy-tale images and designs of Oriental character.” …

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Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”: Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert

In Monday’s post, we explored the warm, instantly-recognizable sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra during its golden age under the tenure of music directors Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy. As a follow up, here is a 1978 concert performance of Scheherazade by the Russian Romanticist, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908). The symphonic suite, based on The Arabian Nights, is filled with shimmering colors (Rimsky-Korsakov was one of music history’s most innovate orchestrators) and “exotic” Eastern sounds (the opening brass motive outlines …

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