Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade

Burton in Persian disguise as
"Mirza Abdullah the Bushri"
On this day in 1821, Sir Richard Francis Burton was born.  Explorer, author, and rogue, he pioneered expeditions to Darkest Africa years before Stanley searched for Livingston.  One of his most famous exploits was a pilgrimage to Mecca, which was then (and remains today) off limits to non Muslims.  The penalty for being discovered was death, and it was said that Burton was almost discovered, getting away by the skin of his teeth.

He was able to pass for Muslim because of his depth of knowledge of the Islamic cultures and languages.  This led to one of his great literary works, a translation of the Arabian Nights in 1885.  Three years later the great Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov composed this.

Even in the late nineteenth century - when areas labeled "Terra Incognito" were evaporating from the maps - the educated world was a small place.


libertyman said...

Wonderful music as always.
Sir Richard Francis Burton was quite a fellow - he is said to have been fluent in 29 languages. Have a look at his book on the sword if you want to be amazed at his writing ability. A rather randy sort as well.

Now, if you look at the picture you have of Burton in Persian disguise, doesn't it look a lot like Jay G. ?!

Borepatch said...

Holy cow, Libertyman - it does look like JayG!

Tom Lindsay said...

My wife's favorite music of all time. We've seen the Atlanta Symphony perform this 3 times.

Now she has this, thanks!

Glenn B said...

The resemblance to Jay is uncanny and a bit scary.