Cheherazade, also spelled Sheherazade, orchestral suite by Russian composer Nicolay Rimsky-Korsakov that was inspired by the collection of largely Middle Eastern and Indian tales known as The Thousand and One Nights (or The Arabian Nights). Exemplary of the late 19th-century taste for program music—or, music with a story to tell—the piece evokes an image of Scheherazade (Shahrazad), the young wife of the sultan Schahriar (Shahryar), telling tales to her husband to forestall his plan to kill her. Colourful and highly varied in mood, the work has a recurring violin solo that represents Scheherazade herself and a deep, ponderous theme that corresponds to the sultan. Scheherazade derives its themes from the evocative stories of characters, such as Sindbad the Sailorand the woodcutter Ali Baba, that became widely known in Europe during the 1800s. Rimsky-Korsakov, renowned as a virtuoso of orchestral coloration, recognized in these tales an ideal realm in which to give free rein to his abilities.
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