According to Middle Eastern legend, Scheherazade saved her own life by telling her husband, the Sultan, folk tales for A Thousand and One Nights. Those stories-within a-story inspired 19th-century composer Rimsky-Korsakov to create an orchestral suite that remains one of his most popular works today. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.
On Sunday, May 20th on WRTI, in a 2016 live broadcast from Hong Kong, Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads The Philadelphia Orchestra in a program featuring Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, as well as music by Ravel and Rachmaninoff.
MUSIC: Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade
Susan Lewis: Scheherazade is a musical showcase for the orchestra - there’s the solo violin that represents the young Arabic queen telling her tales; solos for other instruments including bassoon, clarinet, oboe, flute, English horn and cello; as well as lush ensemble playing.
Rimsky-Korsakov, a naval officer as well as a composer, used the music not to narrate specific stories but to evoke exotic imagery and create a mood.
Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin talks about the desire of the Europeans to learn about foreign lands.
Yannick Nezet-Seguin: They couldn’t take a plane, like we can now, and be in the Middle East, and savor that culture, and the history.
And with a piece like Scheherazade, we have to remember that this is fascinating and extraordinary and that our planet Earth is so diverse. A piece like Scheherazade, in the 21st century, sends the message we can still dream together and focus on the beauty...of all the parts of the world.
SL: Scheherazade, composed in 1888, has become a core work in the classical repertoire.