Listen to Flight of the Bumblebee performed on the erhu

The two-stringed bow instrument Erhu might be known for its calm sound, but it works well even for renditions of extremely fast-paced compositions.

That’s the case for the Flight of the Bumblebee, Rimsky-Korsakov’s frantic orchestral interlude for the opera The Tales of Tsar Saltan. This melody signals the transformation of Prince Gvidon into a bumblebee thanks to some tricks by the Swan Bird, so that he can visit his father. It’s a nearly uninterrupted run of chromatic sixteenth notes, and the greatest challenge lies in the musician’s ability to move quickly enough between them.


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