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In 1899, whilst he was still under the influence of his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai Tcherepnin composed the music to Edmond Rostand’s play La Princesse Lointaine, the prelude of which is often played as a concert overture. On the enchanting coasts of Provence, and under its bright blue skies, an echo bears from east to west news of a lady divinely beautiful, the pearl of Byzantium, the famous Princess Melisande. A young troubadour, Prince Geoffroy, hears of the beautiful princess. She inspires his songs, and henceforth he lives only for her. He nourishes his dream with sweet melodies which touch her heart. From far away she loves the man whose muse praises her name, and dedicates her heart and mind to the unknown singer. Full of love and youthful ardour, the young poet sets out to see the woman who is ever in his dreams. But the journey is difficult, and fraught with danger and great obstacles. At last he reaches his journey’s end. Night yields to dawn – and he breathes his last sigh at her feet.

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