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Modest Mussorgsky:
Pictures at an Exhibition

Russian artist and architect Victor Hartman was a good friend of Modest Mussorgsky. When Hartman died at the age of 39, there was a memorial exhibit of his work. That inspired Mussorgsky to create his own tribute to Hartman -- a composition depicting ten pieces of art from the exhibit. "Pictures at an Exhibition" was originally written for solo piano, but quite a few people have made orchestral versions of the piece. The best-known one is by Maurice Ravel.

Music heard in this episode:
Mussorgsky: Selections from Pictures at an Exhibition
Mussorgsky: Promenade
Mussorgsky: Gnome
Mussorgsky: Old Castle
Mussorgsky: Tuileries
Mussorgsky: Bydlo
Mussorgsky: Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
Mussorgsky: Samual Goldenberg and Schmuyle
Mussorgsky: Limoges
Mussorgsky: Catacvombae
Mussorgsky: Conmortuis in Lingua Mortua
Mussorgsky: Hut on Fowl's Legs
Mussorgsky: Great Gate of Kiev

Other shows about Modest Mussorgsky:
About Modest Mussorgsky
The Mighty Handful
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. Pictures at an Exhibition starts off with a Promenade that appears several times throughout the work. What is its purpose?

To provide a break

To stroll you through the gallery from one picture to the next

To tie the pieces of music together

To make you feel happy

2.What instrument sings for the troubadour in the music about the old castle?






3. The last picture in the exhibition is Viktor Hartmanís design for a gate to what city?

St. Petersburg






Modest Mussorgsky
"Gnome" from Pictures at an Exhibition

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

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