Cyprien Katsaris, Cziffra arrangement Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov, George Cziffra, piano virtuosos, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, word press,, you tube, you tube video

Cyprien Katsaris plays Cziffra’s Flight of the Bumblebee in the pianist’s presence on Live TV

This is a snatch of history. I hadn’t seen the You Tube video until now, but here it is: A jaw-dropping, bravura execution of parallel octaves! (And as the story goes, Cziffra made a change in his Bumblebee transcription, where an EF trill, was embellished with added notes, with short notice given to Katsaris)

Cyprien performed the arrangement “live,” on Cziffra’s televised broadcast, “The Great Chess Board” in 1975, and out of obscurity a You Tuber surfaced decades later with the footage.

Words fail to describe this awesome listening and visual experience!

Virtuosos like Katsaris are few and far between. Like Cziffra, every note, every phrase is dynamic in some way, reaching far beyond the printed score.

Bravo! once again.


“Flight of the Bumblebee is an orchestral interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899–1900. The piece closes Act III, Tableau 1, during which the magic Swan-Bird changes Prince Gvidon Saltanovich (the Tsar’s son) into an insect so that he can fly away to visit his father (who does not know that he is alive). Although in the opera the Swan-Bird sings during the first part of the “Flight”, her vocal line is melodically uninvolved and easily omitted; this feature, combined with the fact that the number decisively closes the scene, made easy extraction as an orchestral concerto piece possible.”


Transcriptions of Bumblebee for the piano are by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Gyorgy Cziffra.

Interview, WGBH Radio (Cyprien Katsaris with Cathy Fuller)