Monday, February 1, 2016

Модест Петрович Мусоргский

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
Модест Петрович Мусоргский

March 21, 1839- March 28, 1881

Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, one of the group known as “The Five.” Also known as the mighty handful, The Five refers to a group of prominent 19th century composers active in Saint Petersburg, Russia who strived to produce a specifically Russian kinds of classical music, rather than one that imitated older European music. Mussorgsky was an innovator of Russian music during the romantic period. He strove to achieve a uniquely Russian musical identity, often in deliberate defiance of the established conventions of Western music. Many of his works were inspired by Russian history, Russian folklore, and other nationalist themes.

Some well known works include:
Boris Godunov (opera)
Night on Bald Mountain (orchestral tone poem)
Pictures at an Exhibition (piano suite)

Mussorgsky's most imaginative and frequently performed work is the cycle of piano pieces describing paintings in sound called Pictures at an Exhibition. It is a musical presentation of what Mussorgsky saw at a Saint Petersburg art exhibition. This art exhibition was for the Russian painter and architect, Viktor Hartmann. Mussorgsky takes his listener around the presentation of Hartmann’s paintings and allows the listener to see in music what he saw at the exhibition. This composition is best known through an orchestral arrangement by Maurice Ravel.

There are four movements which contain different groups of Hartmann’s paintings. The four movements are musically separated by what Mussorgsky calls promenades. The promenades represent traveling from one room of paintings to the next. The entire suite was composed and written in the first three weeks of June, 1873.

Pictures at an Exhibition
I. “The Gnome”
Interlude, Promenade theme
II. “The Old Castle”
Interlude, Promenade theme
III. “Tuileries”
IV. “Cattle”
Interlude, Promenade theme
V. “The Ballet of Unhatched Chicks in their Shells”
VI. “Samuel Goldenberg and Schuÿle”
VII. “The Market at Limoges (The Great News)
VIII. “Catacombs”
IX. “The Hut on Fowl’s Legs
X. “The Great Gate of Kiev” (27:10)

Orchestral Arrangement:

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