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Modest Mussorgsky:
The Mighty Handful

The Mighty Handful, also known as the Mighty Five, were group of Russian composers who all wanted to develop a distinctly Russian style of classical music. The Mighty Five composers were Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Music heard in this episode:
Balakirev: Overture on Three Russian Themes (2 selections)
Borodin: Prince Igor
Rimsky - Korsakov: Dance of the Tumblers from The Snow Maiden
Cui: Scherzo Rustique
Mussorgsky: Gnome from Pictures at an Exhibition

Other shows about Modest Mussorgsky:
About Modest Mussorgsky
Pictures at an Exhibition
Halloween Music

Download this month's activity sheet

About Modest Mussorgsky
3/21/1839 - 3/28/1881
Born in Russia

Modest Mussorgsky was born in the Russian village of Karevo. His mother gave him his first piano lessons, and it was clear early on that Mussorgsky was a very good pianist.

Modest went to military boarding school, and when he graduated, he joined the army as an officer. Then, Mussorgsky started studying music with Russian composer Mily Balakirev, and left the army to become a composer. He was part of a group of five Russian composers known as "The Five," or the "Mighty Handful."

But Mussorgsky had a hard time making a living as a composer, especially after his family lost all its money. So he got a government job, and continued to spend all his spare time composing.

In addition to his instrumental music, Mussorgsky wrote songs, and several operas. His operatic masterpiece is "Boris Godunov," about a Russian Tsar who lived in the 1500's.

See other composers born in Russia


This Week's Quiz:

1. Who were The Mighty Handful?

A Basketball Team

A Family of Five Brothers

A Group of Russian Composers

A String Quartet

Waiters at a Restaurant

2.Who was the leader of the Mighty Handful?

Ludwig van Beethoven

Johann Sebastian Bach

Piotr Tchaikovsky

Antonio Vivaldi

Mily Balakirev

3. Which member of the Mighty Handful was a professor of chemistry?

Mily Balakirev

Alexander Borodin

Cesar Cui

Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov

Modest Mussorgsky


Modest Mussorgsky
"Gnome" from Pictures at an Exhibition

Composed in 1874
Performed by Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Daviel Nazareth, conductor

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