Ippolitov-Ivanov spent eleven years in the Caucasus region of Georgia and developed an interest in the folk music and culture of the area. He received a professorship at the Moscow Conservatory in 1894, and after he moved to Moscow he wrote the first Caucasian Sketches suite and also wrote a book about Georgian Folk Songs.
The 2nd suite has four movements:
I. Introduction : Lamentation Of Princess Ketevana - Princess Ketevana was a daughter of a ruling prince, a member of the Georgian nobility in the early 17th century. She was wed to a ruler called David that died 6 months later. As queen she did many things for the people of Georgia. She was threatened by many usurpers to the throne and when she refused to convert to Islam under threat of torture and death, she was in fact tortured and died a horrible death. Her story became part of Georgian folk lore.
II. Berceuse - A lullaby with an oriental sound to it.
III. Lesghinka - A folk dance that gets more frantic as it goes.
IV. Georgian March - A rousing march, perhaps for the military.
Ippolitov-Ivanov's music is rich in the culture and sound of the Georgia he came to know during his time there. A culture markedly different from his own Russian background, it inspired him to write some very good music. Perhaps not the 'deepest' music ever written, but it is highly listenable and very well orchestrated. It wouldn't hurt for both of the Caucasian Sketches suites to be heard in their entirety more often.