Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thursday Theme Song: flight of...

Everyone knows at least one Russian composer, even if they only know his last name — Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
My favorite, however, has always been Rimsky-Korsakov, because he wrote The Flight of the Bumblebee.
I didn't know his first name until now (it's Nikolai) but I did know he had written Scheherazade and Song of India. Our late father, who was a musician in the 40s and 50s, made sure my brother Clint and I knew these things.
I also didn't know, until now, about Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, while still a member of the Imperial Russian Navy, teaching at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Outside the building is a statue of the instructor/composer, who referred to himself as a student, because he learned so much while teaching at the Conservatory.
Dick and I visited the Conservatory for a performance of Swan Lake (written by Tchaikovsky) during our holiday with Viking River Cruises last month. When we attended a performance by the Russian Folk Orchestra Moskva in Moscow a couple of weeks later, we heard them perform Flight of the Bumblebee, composed (in case you weren't paying attention) by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Wikipedia photo
Photo by Richard Schear
On the very left, the unprepossessing-looking washed-out-green building is the Conservatory, while the more imposing and photo-worthy edifice, front and center, is the Mariinsky Theatre, which we did not attend.

Unfortunately for us, we also did not attend the Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) International Jazz Festival in June of this year, which featured the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by the wonderful Wynton Marsalis.

Photo by: Rick MacWilliam,

So, I offer you instead, a rather good (but very short) YouTube video of Wynton Marsalis playing (did you guess?) Flight of the Bumblebee. Yes, on trumpet.

I first heard Flight of the Bumblebee played on trumpet by Rafael Méndez when I was a teenager. If I knew, I had forgotten until now that the great Harry James also played it. I'm sure Dad never had a recording of it, or Clint and I would have heard it plenty of times.

Posted for Hootin' Anni's musical meme
Thursday Theme Song
Thanks, Anni, and I'm not always this long-winded (trumpet joke, LOL).
To see what songs inspired other bloggers this week, please click HERE!


Seasons said...

It was amazing (still is) the first time my friend and I heard, The Flight of the Bumblebee. What an amazing (and difficult) piece of music to be inspired to compose, and those who play it. I just feel breathless thinking a jazz musician playing it. Thanks for this musically informative post, and of course the pictures.

jabblog said...

Wonderful rendition of the Flight of the Bumblebee - what fantastic technique and musicality.

Powell River Books said...

When I was in junior high school we were required to take a quarter of music appreciation. If it hadn't been for that I probably wouldn't have heard or known about many of the classics. Now with all the budget cuts I am sure that class was one of the first to go. - Margy

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Margy — I was fortunate, I had a musical father who loved to pass on his knowledge.
The family's favorite game was Name That Tune: as soon as a tune came on the radio, if the name hadn't been announced already, we had to jump on it. Such fun we had.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

SquirrelQueen said...

Marsalis does a great job with Flight of The Bumblebee. I think, of the two composers, Rimsky-Korsakov is my favorite also.

Leslie said...

Ahhhh, you've written of things very near and dear to my heart. Once, a very long time ago, I played the oboe. And one of my all time favorite oboe solos to play was Scheherazade, by Rimsky Korsakov. How nice to learn a bit more about him!

Jeanette said...

I've thought that it would be so neat to be able to play an instrument. But, I never have. My daughter took an interest in the guitar and can play a little. She learned from books and online videos. But, those teen years started and the guitar seldom is played.
I enjoyed your post. The story and the video.