Flight of the Bumblebee is an orchestral piece written by Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899–1900 during the late Romantic period of music. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844 –1908) was a Russian composer who is regarded as a master of orchestration. Orchestration is the practice of writing music for an orchestra.
The composition of today’s piece is intended to musically evoke the seemingly chaotic and rapidly changing flying pattern of a bumblebee.
Things to listen out for:
- The rapid chromatic scales played by the solo violinist. A chromatic scale is a pattern of notes consisting of semitones. A semitone is the smallest gap between 2 notes, for example C to C#. Using semitones creates musical tension.
- The virtuosic melody line with a light accompaniment from pizzicato orchestral strings. Pizzicato means the instruments are played by plucking the strings with the finger instead of using the bow.
- A steady pulse