Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, born on March 18, 1844, in Tikhvin, Russia, was a prominent Russian composer, conductor, and music educator. He is regarded as one of the leading figures of the late 19th-century Russian classical music. Rimsky-Korsakov's musical genius and innovative compositions have left an indelible mark on the world of music. From an early age, Rimsky-Korsakov showed a natural inclination and talent for music. He began taking piano lessons at the age of six and later developed skills in composition and orchestration. In 1856, he entered the Imperial Russian Navy and sailed around the world, which exposed him to different cultures and musical traditions, greatly influencing his later works.
However, at the age of 64, his vision started to deteriorate. He could no longer play the organ, compose music or direct choirs and orchestras. He was afraid of losing his job and his livelihood. What caused his blindness and how did he cope with it? The most likely culprit was cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye that reduces vision and causes glare. Cataract is a common condition in older people, especially those who have been exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. Bach was known to have played the organ without glasses even in his presbyopic age, which suggests that he was nearsighted and had to strain his eyes to see clearly.
Hector Berlioz, born Louis-Hector Berlioz, was a French composer, conductor, and music critic. He was born on December 11, 1803, in La Côte-Saint-André, a small town in southeastern France. Berlioz is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential composers of the Romantic period. His music was characterized by its emotional intensity, vivid orchestration, and imaginative use of programmatic elements. Berlioz grew up in a musical family and showed early talent as a musician. His father, a respected physician, initially wanted him to pursue a medical career. However, Berlioz's passion for music led him to study composition and music theory in Paris. Despite facing financial difficulties and opposition from his father, he persevered and gained admission to the prestigious Paris Conservatoire in 1826.
Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor, widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the late Romantic period. He was born on April 1, 1873, in Semyonovo, a small village near Novgorod, Russia, and passed away on March 28, 1943, in Beverly Hills, California, United States. Rachmaninoff's music is known for its lush melodies, rich harmonies, and virtuosic piano writing. Rachmaninoff was born into a noble and musically inclined family. His father, Vasily, was an army officer and amateur pianist, while his mother, Lyubov, came from a cultured and artistic background. Rachmaninoff showed exceptional musical talent at an early age, displaying remarkable proficiency on the piano and composing his first piece at the age of nine. Recognizing his potential, his parents enrolled him in the St. Petersburg Conservatory at the age of ten.