The Rimsky-Korsakov Museum in St Petersburg, Russia - A Visit March 23 2022
For classical music fans visiting St. Petersburg, a visit to the Rimsky-Korsakov Museum is a must. This preserved apartment honors the legacy of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, one of Russia’s most famous composers.
The lovingly reconstructed apartment is St. Petersburg’s only museum dedicated exclusively to one composer, making it a unique find for classical music lovers visiting the city.
[image] The Rimsky-Korsakov Museum in St Petersburg Russia - Entrance
Visit the Rimsky-Korsakov Museum, even via our photographs, and take a trip back in time to the composer’s heyday!.
ABOUT NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV
Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was born in 1844 and died in 1908. His life spanned the awakening of Russia as a cultural and intellectual powerhouse as well as some of its tumultuous moments, although he died before the Russian Revolution. He came from a storied Russian noble family and had a lifelong career in the military, continuing family tradition, but his real passion was music.
Rimsky-Korsakov was a member of The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful, a group of Russian composers who worked together to create a style of classical music that was distinctly Russian. Other members included Balakirev, Cui, Mussorgsky, and Borodin. Their music combined Western classical composing norms with Russian folk and liturgical music as well as invented harmonic changes that added an exotic touch to the music.
[image] Beautiful portrait of the composer shown at work, displayed in his museum.
Rimsky-Korsakov was one of the most talented composers of this new Russian classical music, and his operas and other works were usually inspired by Russian folklore. His most famous works include the Scheherazade suite and the Russian Easter Festival Overture.
Besides working on his own compositions, he helped other composers prepare their work and contributed to St. Petersburg’s intellectual life by hosting frequent musical soirees with famous local musicians.
THE HISTORY OF THE RIMSKY-KORSAKOV MUSEUM
The Rimsky-Korsakov Museum, located at 28 Zagorodny Prospect, is in the last apartment that the Rimsky-Korsakov family occupied before Nikolai’s death. From 1893 to 1908, Rimsky-Korsakov lived here and composed some of his most famous works in the same rooms visitors can walk through, on the same piano that is in the exhibit.
Although the apartment looks the same as it did when Rimsky-Korsakov lived here, it is not a perfect preservation but a loving reconstruction. In early 1918, the Russian Revolution forced Rimsky-Korsakov’s widow Nadezhda and her son out of the apartment and turned it into a kommunalka, a communal apartment for 10 families.
Although the Rimsky-Korsakov family lost their apartment, they kept all of the famous composer’s possessions. Nadezhda catalogued all of her husband’s papers and heirlooms and spent her life advocating for a museum dedicated to his work.
After her death, the cause was taken up by her descendants. Until the museum became a reality, Rimsky-Korsakov’s things were donated to the public library.
Finally, the city decided to restore the apartment and create a museum dedicated to Rimsky-Korsakov in 1971. Even after 50 years of being lived in by other families, many of the original installations, including the original wallpaper, remained, buried under layers added by later inhabitants.
Today, the museum consists of four rooms, perfectly reconstructed down to the original furniture, an exhibition space, and a concert hall.
WANDERING RIMSKY-KORSAKOV’S HAUNTS
When you visit the Rimsky-Korsakov Museum, you can see the composer’s study, living room, dining room, and the hall. All of the furniture, wallpaper, and heirlooms are authentic to the original apartment.
The centerpiece of the museum is Rimsky-Korsakov’s piano, which is in the living room. The Becker grand piano was not only fodder for Rimsky-Korsakov’s magic, but also passed under the hands of other great composers such as Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Glazunov, and Lyadov.
During his lifetime, Rimsky-Korsakov hosted regular musical soirees, called “Korsakov’s Wednesdays,” featuring luminaries of the Russian intelligentsia, for the entertainment of his guests and his neighbors. The piano is a silent witness to those loving nights of a time long past.
View of the studio
In the study, visitors can imagine what it was like to witness the famous composer hard at work. Many of the furniture and tools that he used to compose his best works, such as his original writing desk made by cabinet makers from his home village of Tikhvin and his favorite chair, are still there.
Another highlight of the visit to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Museum is the dining room. The family’s original silver and memorial pieces are exhibited on the table.
The walls are lined with portraits of the Rimsky-Korsakov ancestors, stretching back centuries, that the composer himself had in his apartment. The dining room really drives home the wealth and opulence that Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov descended from.
View of the dinning room the way it looked during Rimsky-Korsakov's life
The reconstructed portion of the museum may lack the historical awe of the original rooms, but it is still worth a visit. The exhibition hall hosts many important papers that explain Rimsky-Korsakov’s life and work.
KEEPING RIMSKY-KORSAKOV'S MEMORY ALIVE
A staid, unchanging museum would be a poor legacy for one of Russia’s most dynamic composers and the originators of a national sound. That is why the museum hosts regular concerts and musical events featuring St. Petersburg’s best musicians, including young students from local conservatories.
The composer’s tradition of hosting musical gatherings on Wednesdays continues with “Musical Evenings in the Zagorodny House,” weekly concerts featuring musicians from the city’s orchestras and opera houses.
The museum’s dedicated programs for children, including concerts featuring children training in local conservatories, seeks to pass on the love of classical music to the next generation.
Most of the museum’s concerts happen in the dedicated concert hall. However, three times a year, the grand living room is reopened for concerts. Then, the grand piano and the room come alive just like they did when Rimsky-Korsakov hosted his famous parties.
A conductor's baton that belonged to the composer exhibited in the Museum
A MUST-VISIT DESTINATION FOR CLASSICAL MUSIC LOVERS
A visit to the Rimsky-Korsakov Museum is a must for passionate fans of classical music as well as anyone interested in the unique history of Russian music.
Most of the composer’s original possessions and furniture are exhibited in the four reconstructed rooms, while the exhibition hall gives more context about his importance. If you can time your visit to catch one of the many musical events at the museum, they are worth it.
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