Rimsky-Korsakov’s Harmony Manual

As regular readers of this blog will know, my interests include Russia, music, and lithographic printing.  So it was with some excitement that I came across the following book:

Published in 1885, and lithographed throughout from a manuscript original, this is a copy of the second version of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s popular course on harmony, a book which went on to become the standard Russian work on the subject.  The first version of the text ‘was published in St Petersburg, 1884, under the title: Uchebnik garmonii.  Kurs Pridvornoy kapelly, vypusk pervy.  Garmonizatsiya akkordami v predelekh lady (Harmony Manual.  A Course for the Imperial Chapel, First Issue.  Harmonization with Chords within the Limits of a Mode).  This was followed by a complete revision of the 1884 edition, together with new material, this being published under the title: Uchebnik garmonii, sostavil N. Rimsky-Korsakov (Harmony Manual, Compiled by N. Rimsky-Korsakov).  The idea of writing the work originally arose as a result of his teaching a course of harmony at the Imperial Chapel for which, it was felt, a new approach was required.  Between 1885 and 1956, the Harmony Manual was issued 19 times, of which seven editions appeared during the composer’s lifetime’ (Gerald R. Seaman, Nikolay Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov: A Research and Information Guide, 1988).

I have always had a soft spot for Rimsky-Korsakov.  On my first ever visit to Russia, I was lucky enough to stay with his descendants as my host family.




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