"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. Although in the original opera. Although it features a vocal line, it 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.
Although the "Flight" does not have a title in the score of the opera, its common English title translates like the Russian one (Полёт шмеля = Polyot shmelya). Incidentally, this piece does not constitute one of the movements of the orchestral suite that Rimsky-Korsakov derived from the opera for concerts.
"Flight of the Bumblebee" is recognizable for its frantic pace when played up to tempo, with nearly uninterrupted runs ofchromatic sixteenth notes. It is not so much the pitch or range of the notes that are played that challenges the musician, but simply the musician's ability to move to them quickly enough. Because of this and its complexity, it requires a great deal of skill to perform.