Price: $285.00



Phone: 212-860-5541  *  Fax: 917-677-8247


An original Schpanofsky of St. Petersburg 2” x 4” original carte de visite photograph of the composer in his michman naval uniform c. 1865.


Rimsky (1844-1907) was born into a noble land owning class family in the town of Tikhvin.  His musical aptitude was apparent by the age of two. He was beating time on a drum at three and four while his father would play opera paraphrases on the piano by ear.  His father would increase the tempi and the young composer would follow along.  He also began to sing in perfect pitch at a young age.  Despite all of this, Rimsky in his autobiography, My Musical Life claimed he was “not particularly fond of music”.  He was sent to the Marine Coprs School in the Summer of 1856, following in the footsteps of his brother Voyin, who was a commissioned officer in the Russian Navy.  Rimsky also took music lessons while studying in the school.  His brother was made Commander of the target ship Prokhor and Rimsky spent the Summer of 1858 on the ship.  He spent the Summer of 1859 on the Voyin as well, under his brother’s watch.  In 1860 his “passion for music was developing” and he began to attend concerts and opera.  That Fall, he began taking his first serious lessons with the pianist F.A. Kamille.  In September 1861, learning that the young composer played “well enough” his brother ended his lessons, which upset him and Kamille continued to give him lessons in piano and composition without payment.  He also met Balakriev this year and began to compose somewhat seriously.  By 1862, his uncle, Admiral Nicolai Petrovich, a former Director of the Marine Corps and a friend of the Tsar insisted the Navy was his path forward, just like his brother.  When he graduated in 1862, he was assigned orders to work aboard the Russian Navy ship the Clipper Almaz.  His trip took him through the Kiel Canal and London.  The boat was then taken back to Russia, refit and sent to the Libau Coast off Lativa for four months due to the Polish uprising.  They then repaired back to their base in Kronstadt near St. Petersburg.  They joined a squadron of ships under the command of Admiral Lesovsky and headed across the Atlantic to New York City.  America was in the middle of the Civil War and Russia was sympathetic to the Union and were welcome in Union ports. (There was concern that due to the Polish uprising there would be a War with England due to various treaties which never came.) Between October 1863 and April 1864 they remained in America, also visiting Annapolis and Baltimore.  While in America, Rimsky and his Naval comrades visited Niagara Falls.  He also attended opera in New York City which he described as poorly performed performances of “Robert le Diable” and “Faust”.  They sailed from New York to the Cape of Good Horn, stopping in Rio de Janeiro, where they remained until October due to the need to repair a leak.  Rather than heading to the Cape of Good Hope, they were ordered back to Europe to meet back with the squadron of ships, where they stopped at Gibraltar and Villefranche, whilst there he visited Nice, Toulon, Genoa and Marseilles.  The Tsarevich who had been seeking a cure died in Nice in April 1865 and the squadron of boats then escorted his body back to Russia. It was after his return that his photograph was taken.


Note, the writing on the verso of the carte is NOT an autograph and is identification only.


Not much is known about the photographer Schpakovsky, other than his firm was eventually bought out by another photographer, Zakharin who took photographs of Mussorgsky.


A scarce original image of the young Rimsky in his early 20’s.