1872: Rimsky-Korsakov: The Maid of Pskov, Incidental Music, age 28

Mr. Peabody Says:

Incidental music is essentially about music that is staged that becomes rewritten as pure music, generally music without singers or dancers. Usually such collections are called “suites”, so this is what “The Maid of Pskov, Incidental Music” is. It’s just a suite that did not get famous enough to get that name.

It starts with a short overture, then various themes or parts of the opera have their own names, but for listening to only the music I don’t think any of that is of any interest. It’s very hard to find info about how composers adapt their music into suites that come from their operas and ballets. It seems to be mostly about cutting and pasting in a creative way that makes the music come alive without visual enhancement and a story.

Igor Golovchin

  • I. Overture
  • II. Entr’acte to Act I: Olga
  • III. Entr’acte to Act II: The Assembly
  • IV. Entr’acte to Act III: Street Scene
  • V. Entr’acte to Act IV: Pyechorsky Monastery.


  • piccolo, 3 flutes, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 oboes, 3 bassoons
  • 4 horns, 2 trumpets, contralto trumpet, 3 trombones, tuba
  • timpani
  • strings

Premiere 1873

The Maid of Pskov is an 1872 opera originally in three acts (six scenes) by Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto is by the composer, after the play by Lev Mei.

1st opera

This was Rimsky-Korsakov’s first opera, before he turned it into a suite, and he revised it twice; once in 1876-7, and a 2rd time even later. The third version was made famous by Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin, a famous Russian bass in the role of the Tsar. The opera was introduced to Paris in 1909, also with Chaliapin, by Diaghilev, under the title Ivan the Great.

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