Rimsky-Korsakoff was born March 18, 1844, at Tikhvin, in the government of Novgorod.
The son of aristocratic parents, his early manifestations of musical genius were not greatly encouraged, and in 1856 he went to the Naval College at St. Petersburg, where he remained until 1862. At the same time, however, he contrived to learn a good deal about music, and when, in 1861, he made the acquaintance of Balakirev, he became, with Cui, Moussorgski and Borodin, a willing follower of that strenuous leader of the “New School” of Russian music.
In 1862 Rimsky-Korsakoff went to sea on a long cruise, which lasted until 1865. During that time he completed his first symphony. As may be imagined, the work was composed under difficulties.
Life on a battleship is not made pleasant for budding composers.
On his return the work was performed with great success, under the direction of Balakirev, in St. Petersburg, and other orchestral works followed.
In 1871 Rimsky-Korsakoff was appointed professor of composition and instrumentation at St. Petersburg Conservatory, and in 1873 he retired permanently from the navy. He was, however, appointed inspector of naval bands until the post was abolished in 1884. He held
many important posts as director and conductor in the Russian capital.
His works include many operas, much orchestral music, chamber music, choral music, etc.