b. Toropets, Russia/ March 21, 1839
d. Saint Petersburg, Russia/ March 28, 1881
Modest Mussorgsky was an innovative Russian composer of the romantic era. Although born into a wealthy landowning family, his short life was tragic. He was little known as an artist and lived in dismal poverty, sharing his lodging with fellow composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. He died from alcohol intoxication at age 42.
Pictures at an Exhibition is a piano suite that was published posthumously in 1886, thanks to the efforts of Rimsky-Korsakov. Mussorgsky composed the work as a memorial to his friend the Russian artist and architect Viktor Hartmann, who had died suddenly in 1873.
Shortly after the artist’s death, Mussorgsky visited a retrospective exhibit of Hartmann’s sketches, stage designs, and architectural studies and felt the need to capture the experience in music. The suite consists of musical depictions of 10 pictures, interspersed with a recurring “Promenade” theme that represents a visitor strolling through the exhibition.
Pictures at an Exhibition received little interest from pianists when it was published. In the years that followed, however, over two dozen composers orchestrated it. The most popular arrangement is that of Maurice Ravel, which we will hear this evening. Other arrangers include Leopold Stokowski, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and the British rock group Emerson Lake & Palmer.
Programme note by Dave Whiting ©
Powered by SiteCMTM— web content management made easy by ideaLEVER Solutions.