Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pictures at an Exhibition

One of the most notable Russian compositions is known as Pictures at an Exhibition and was composed by Modest Mussorgsky (Моде́ст Петро́вич Му́соргский) as a memory to a dear friend Victor Hartmann. Hartmann was involved in the fields of painting and architecture, and when he died in 1974, Mussorgsky created Pictures at and Exhibition as a programatic composition illustrating walking into a museum and looking at ten paintings. The composition opens with a "Promenade" which returns several times throughout the piece, and this is supposed to symbolize an artist strolling through the art gallery. 

This piece was originally for piano solo, but very few people actually performed it. Instead, many composers tried orchestrating it for other instruments. Eventually, French composer Ravel wrote Pictures at an Exhibition for full orchestra- and even a saxophone. This is the version of Pictures at an Exhibition most well known. 

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