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The Arabian Nights in Historical ContextBetween East and West$
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Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554157.001.0001

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Under the Spell of Magic: The Oriental Tale in Rimsky‐Korsakov's Sheherazade

Under the Spell of Magic: The Oriental Tale in Rimsky‐Korsakov's Sheherazade

(p.265) 11 Under the Spell of Magic: The Oriental Tale in Rimsky‐Korsakov's Sheherazade
The Arabian Nights in Historical Context

Nasser Al‐Taee

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   music, exoticism, Orientalism, music, narrative, Russian nationalism, musical representation, violence, sensuality

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