Rimsky-Korsakov’s estate devastated by fire, destroying over 1,000 valuable artefacts

4 July 2022, 16:08 | Updated: 4 July 2022, 17:16

Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov’s estate was engulfed in flames over the weekend
Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov’s estate was engulfed in flames over the weekend. Picture: Governor of the Pskov region Mikhail Vedernikov

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Said to have been caused by careless builders, a fire at Rimsky-Korsakov’s estate has done untold damage, destroying thousands of artefacts belonging to the 19th-century Russian composer.

This weekend, a fire broke out in the estate and memorial museum of 19th-century composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Over half of the exhibits have been destroyed in the blaze, which has devastated more than 1,000 artefacts.

Born in the town of Tikhvin, 200km east of St Petersburg, Rimsky-Korsakov was a prolific composer, scoring a considerable body of nationalistic music including orchestral, choral, and operatic works.

He is particularly notable for being one of ‘The Five’, a collection of five Russian composers including Modest Mussorgsky, and Alexander Borodin, who led the way in creating a distinct national style of classical music.

Rimsky-Korsakov died in 1908 in the now fire-damaged estate, which he had purchased as a home for his children. The estate is in the west Russian village of Lyubensk, in the Plyussky District of Pskov Oblast. Reports of the fire originally emerged from the governor of the district, Mikhail Vedernikov who posted a photo of the fire on his Telegram [social media] account, saying the damage was “significant”.

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The fire is said to have been started due to “the negligence of builders” who were repairing the roof of the museum using a ‘hot work’ technique – construction that uses open flames. Starting on the roof, the fire spread “very quickly” throughout the building according to Vedernikov, engulfing the estate before firefighters were able to arrive. No one was injured in the blaze.

The Pskov regional Investigative Committee – of the Russian Investigative Committee – is reportedly investigating the instigating factors of the fire, and interviewing eyewitnesses in order to establish the full story.

According to the local press office, firefighters were able to save half of the museum’s exhibits, but thousands of artefacts were destroyed. Of the valuables saved, emergency workers were able to retrieve a real silver trophy and a real gold pen, as well as furniture, books, magazines and shelves.

Vedernikov wrote on Telegram that, “[the museum] is an object of cultural heritage and federal significance”, and the governor seems committed to ensuring the preservation of the remaining exhibits.

“Together with our colleagues from the Government,” the official writes, “we will do our best to restore the estate.”