Under the Spell of Magic: The Oriental Tale in Rimsky‐Korsakov's Sheherazade
This chapter seeks to link Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade to Antoine Galland's Les Mille et une nuits as a continuation of European fascination with the Oriental tale. It discusses issues concerning cultural, political, and religious representation and appropriation of the Orient in European music. Building on recent contributions in cultural theory and musicology, it traces issues of Orientalism, nationalism, and narration in 19th-century music, especially images of violence and sensuality. Rimsky-Korsakov offers his listeners impressions of the Orient without attempting to depict exact narratives. Despite engaging in many stereotypical musical tropes about the Orient, Scheherazade adopts the spirit and the complex layers of narrative embedded in the Nuits. In composing his Oriental tale, Rimsky-Korsakov has fallen under the magical Oriental spell inherited from the Nuits to replicate its freedom of narration, grandeur, cyclicism, and metamorphism.
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