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Festival at Baghdad

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Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (arr. Frank Winterbottom)


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This work is the fourth movement of Scheherazade


General Info

Year: 1888 / 1922
Duration:
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print


Instrumentation

(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Scheherazade Op. 35, is a symphonic poem composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1888. Based on One Thousand and One Nights, sometimes known as The Arabian Nights, this orchestral work combines two features typical of Russian music and of Rimsky-Korsakov in particular: dazzling, colorful orchestration and an interest in the East, which figured greatly in the history of Imperial Russia, as well as orientalism in general. It is considered Rimsky-Korsakov's most popular work.

The fourth movement, comprised of Festival at Baghdad, The Sea, and The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman ties in aspects of all the preceding movements as well as adding some new ideas, including an introduction of both the beginning of the movement and the Vivace section based on Sultan Shakhriar’s theme, a repeat of the main Scheherazade violin theme, and a reiteration of the fanfare motif to portray the ship wreck. Coherence is maintained by the ordered repetition of melodies, and continues the impression of a symphonic suite, rather than separate movements. A final conflicting relationship of the subdominant minor Schahriar theme to the tonic major cadence of the Scheherazade theme resolves in a fantastic, lyrical, and finally peaceful conclusion.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


Rimsky-Korsakov preceded the score of this work by writing the story of how the Sultan Schahriar, convinced of the falseness of women, swore to put to death each one of his wives after the first night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by interesting him in tales which she told him during one thousand and one nights. His curiosity piqued, the sultan put off his wife's execution from day to day and at last gave up his blood plan entirely.

The final movement, Festival at Baghdad, begins with the motif of the sea, as does the first. The scene quickly changes, however, to the whirl and swirl of the festival. Into the carnival atmosphere a reminder of the sea intrudes, other familiar figures flit by, including the evil jinn and the love idyll. Then in full festival array we seem to plunge back into the broad movement of the surging sea, straight on to the fateful event where the ship goes to pieces against a magnetic rock. There are no sighs or tears. Placidly the waves play softly about. Scheherazade herself reappears to conclude the tale quietly and tenderly.

- Program Note by Everett Kisinger for Program Notes for Band


Commercial Discography


State Ratings

  • Texas: V. Complete


Performances

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Works for Winds by This Composer


Resources