Rimsky-Korsakov, who studied piano and composition as a child, abandoned his early career as a naval cadet to devote himself entirely to music.
Rimsky-Korsakov was mainly self-taught, but achieved professional competence through disciplined study. At the age of 27 he was appointed professor of orchestration and composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire and he was a respected teacher.
Generally known for his colourful orchestral compositions, Rimsky-Korsakov also wrote songs and choral music, chamber music and works for piano. His textbook on orchestration has been widely used.
Of the various orchestral works by Rimsky-Korsakov the symphonic suite "Sheherazade", based on the book "Arabian Nights" is by far the most well known.
Sheherazade, with no detailed and specific programme, is based on the tales told by the princess Sheherazade, represented by a solo violin, in her effort to postpone the death sentence declared on her by her master, the Caliph.