Rimsky-Korsakov’s Harmony Manual

Posted on 22nd September 2017 by simonbeattie

As regular readers of this blog will know, my interests include Russia, music, and lithographic printing.  So it was with some excitement that I came across the following book:

Published in 1885, and lithographed throughout from a manuscript original, this is a copy of the second version of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s popular course on harmony, a book which went on to become the standard Russian work on the subject.  The first version of the text ‘was published in St Petersburg, 1884, under the title: Uchebnik garmonii.  Kurs Pridvornoy kapelly, vypusk pervy.  Garmonizatsiya akkordami v predelekh lady (Harmony Manual.  A Course for the Imperial Chapel, First Issue.  Harmonization with Chords within the Limits of a Mode).  This was followed by a complete revision of the 1884 edition, together with new material, this being published under the title: Uchebnik garmonii, sostavil N. Rimsky-Korsakov (Harmony Manual, Compiled by N. Rimsky-Korsakov).  The idea of writing the work originally arose as a result of his teaching a course of harmony at the Imperial Chapel for which, it was felt, a new approach was required.  Between 1885 and 1956, the Harmony Manual was issued 19 times, of which seven editions appeared during the composer’s lifetime’ (Gerald R. Seaman, Nikolay Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov: A Research and Information Guide, 1988).

I have always had a soft spot for Rimsky-Korsakov.  On my first ever visit to Russia, I was lucky enough to stay with his descendants as my host family.

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