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Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov:
The Bees and the Birds

There are many pieces of classical music -- besides "The Flight of the Bumblebee" -- that are about bees, birds, and other winged creatures. Composers use various instruments to imitate insects, and to create all kinds of bird calls.

Music heard in this episode:
Schubert: The Bee
Vaughan Williams: Wasp Overture
Biber: Sonata Representativa
Uccellini: Aria Sopra la Bergamasca
Respighi: The Birds
Walther: Imitation of a Cuckoo Sonata
Handel: Cuckoo and the Nightingale
Vivaldi: Il Giardinello
Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee

Other shows about Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov:
About Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
The Tale of Tsar Saltan
Russian Operas
Composer Teachers and their Students

Download this month's activity sheet

About Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
3/18/1844 - 6/21/1908
Born in Russia

Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was born in the Russian town of Tikhvin. During his childhood, Nikolai enjoyed listening to Russian folk songs, church music, and opera.

When he was older, Nikolai followed his brother to the naval college in St. Petersburg. While he was there, he also studied music. Rimsky-Korsakov composed his first symphony while on a navy ship.

After he left the navy, Rimsky-Korsakov was asked to teach at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, which is now called named for him. Rimsky-Korsakov was also one of a group of five famous Russian composers known as "The Mighty Handful" (as in five fingers).

Rimsky-Korsakov wrote operas, choral music, chamber music, and works for piano. One of his most famous pieces is the Flight of the Bumblebee, from the opera Tsar Saltan. In the opera, this music is played when a prince disguises himself as bee.

See other composers born in Russia


This Week's Quiz:

1. Which composer wrote The Wasps Overture?

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Benjamin Britten

Edward Elgar

Antonio Vivaldi

2.The sounds that birds make are easy to imitate in music.



3. What work by Prokofiev includes both a duck and a bird?

Carnival of the Animals

Peter and the Wolf

The Magic Flute

The Tale of Tsar Saltan


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Flight of the Bumblebee

Composed in 1899
Performed by CSR Symphony Orchestra
Anthony Bramall, conductor

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