Our music for this week is the Suite No. 1 from Mikail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasion Sketches. I’m willing to bet that none of you – even the most veteran musicians – have heard of this piece. However, one of the many goals of This Week’s Music is to popularize music that no one knows about!
Ippolitov-Ivanov was a Russian composer in the early 20th century who studied with the famous Rimsky-Korsakov. One of his first jobs was as a conductor in the region of Russia that is now Georgia. During his eleven years there, he fell in love with the soaring mountain peaks and rich folk heritage of the region. The Caucasion Sketches are his musical depiction of the rural Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, which, as a result of their position along a major trade route from the Black Sea to Moscow, were filled with an incredible amount of cultural diversity.
There are four movements in the Caucasion Sketches:
- In a Mountain Pass
- In a Village – listen for the English horn’s solo in this movement. It is supposedly a representation of an instrument native to the Caucasus Mountains region called the zurna.
- In a Mosque
- Procession of the Sardar – the Sardar was the leader or regional commander, and this movement depicts the pomp and circumstance that surround his arrival in the village.