This piece was composed in 1888 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and it was his 35th published work. It centers around the key of F major, having one flat. As well, it begins in 4/4 time, with for beats per measure with the quarter note receiving the one beat designation, and moves to 3/4 time which has only 3 beats per measure but maintains the quarter note serving as the beat. The entire piece includes four movements and was orchestrated for a symphonic orchestra.
This piece tells the story of an Arabian King who was betrayed by his first wife who had cheated on him. On order to gain his revenge, he had her killed and to appeased his broken heart, took a new wife everyday. In the morning, however, he would have each one killed so that they could never betray him. One day, he married a woman named Scheherazade who sought to end this useless killing. In order to save her own life, she would tell the king stories each night, but leaving the best part for the next day, forcing the king to let her live if he wanted to hear the end of the story. After over a thousand nights, she healed the king’s broken heart and they had truly fallen in love with each other.
This piece gained much publicity when it was used in the gold medal winning performance of the American Ice Dancing tandem. I personally, had heard this piece before this event when I was first being exposed to classical music. I came across a CD of songs that the New York Philharmonic was going to play during t heir upcoming season and this was one of the pieces on that disc. While it is a goal of mine, I haven’t seen this piece performed live in concert. If any of you have, please let me know in the comment section.