Rimsky-Korsakov taught orchestration and instrumentation at the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1871 until his death in 1908. He taught himself how to play the instruments of the orchestra and read widely on acoustics. He meant to apply this knowledge to a book on orchestration. The book is considered to be the first book on orchestration to take scientific properties of sound into consideration.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestration habits are notorious. As a member of the nationalistic “Mighty Five,” he was prone to “improve” the orchestrations of his friends’ works. Most notably, Rimsky-Korsakov re-orchestrated Mussorgsky’s opera, Boris Godunov. While this may have helped catapult Mussorgsky into posthumous fame, today it is often performed with the composer’s original orchestration.