Title

The Story of the Storyteller: The Real Story in Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade

Lead Author Major

Music History

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Sarah Walz

Faculty Mentor Department

Music History

Abstract/Artist Statement

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Scheherazade, based on the classic tale A Thousand and One Nights, is a work known for its virtuosity, beauty, and vibrant storytelling. It is a crowd favorite and is often programmed for symphonic concerts. Yet how does the audience know which stories from A Thousand and One Nights are being told? While the story can be written in a program, does the music hold up on its own? As the titles were given after the piece was written, many musicians have debated whether or not the stories are actually being told, or if any piece of music could tell a story. Did music even need to tell a story? Some musicians, like Johannes Brahms, should simply exist for its own sake. Richard Wagner argued that all music should be narratives that tell fantastic stories. This is still a highly debated topic among musicologists. I knew that there must be an answer to these questions. Through careful score study, analysis of the source materials and scholarly writings I have come to a conclusion: Not only are the stories well supported by the music, but that there is an even larger story that is being told: the story of Scheherazade herself. Rimsky-Korsakov was a master of writing programmatic music and orchestration, so it stands to reason that he was capable of having a unique perspective on the stories and how they should be told. The composer creates a compelling narrative through use of melody, harmony, form, and orchestration. Each movement uniquely presents its themes and contributes to the overarching story. His techniques prove that it is possible to to tell these kinds of stories through music. Come join me on a journey, as I shine light on the masterful techniques used to tell not just one, but five vastly different and unique stories.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

30-4-2016 10:00 AM

End Date

30-4-2016 12:00 PM

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Apr 30th, 10:00 AM Apr 30th, 12:00 PM

The Story of the Storyteller: The Real Story in Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Scheherazade, based on the classic tale A Thousand and One Nights, is a work known for its virtuosity, beauty, and vibrant storytelling. It is a crowd favorite and is often programmed for symphonic concerts. Yet how does the audience know which stories from A Thousand and One Nights are being told? While the story can be written in a program, does the music hold up on its own? As the titles were given after the piece was written, many musicians have debated whether or not the stories are actually being told, or if any piece of music could tell a story. Did music even need to tell a story? Some musicians, like Johannes Brahms, should simply exist for its own sake. Richard Wagner argued that all music should be narratives that tell fantastic stories. This is still a highly debated topic among musicologists. I knew that there must be an answer to these questions. Through careful score study, analysis of the source materials and scholarly writings I have come to a conclusion: Not only are the stories well supported by the music, but that there is an even larger story that is being told: the story of Scheherazade herself. Rimsky-Korsakov was a master of writing programmatic music and orchestration, so it stands to reason that he was capable of having a unique perspective on the stories and how they should be told. The composer creates a compelling narrative through use of melody, harmony, form, and orchestration. Each movement uniquely presents its themes and contributes to the overarching story. His techniques prove that it is possible to to tell these kinds of stories through music. Come join me on a journey, as I shine light on the masterful techniques used to tell not just one, but five vastly different and unique stories.