Musorgsky: a Reminiscence of Victor Hartmann

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  • Topic: Pictures at an Exhibition, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Pages : 4 (1613 words )
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  • Published : February 10, 2007
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Pictures at an Exhibition: A Reminiscence of Victor Hartmann

Modest Musorgsky is a famous composer of programmatic music with his best example being Pictures at an Exhibition: a series of short pieces, all pertaining to his close friends paintings, Viktor Hartman. Musorgsky and Hartman's relationship was founded in their passion for art and music. Hartman's paintings were a large source of inspiration for Musorgsky and his compositions, where each section of Pictures was written to represent a certain painting. Not only were the pieces written to represent a painting, the mood that is depicted in each painting is reflected in each piece. The structure of Pictures resembles a trip to an art exhibition, with it's promenades between the main paintings/pieces.

Modest Musorgsky was born in Karevo, in the province of Pskov (south of St. Petersburg) on March 9, 1839. He was from a very wealthy family, descendants of the first Russian ruler, Rurik in ca 830. Musorgsky received piano lessons from his mother and started composing at a young age. He was first intended to have a career serving as a military officer, but his passion for music overcame the duties of service. Musorgsky later became part of the Russian Five; which are 5 composers under the leadership of Mily Balakirev (Gasparov 2005). This group of "five" also included César Cui, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin (Orlova, 1991) Pictures at an Exhibition was written as a free-form sonata form piece (Russ 1992) in 1874 and apart from St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain, it is the only instrumental composition by Musorgsky. It consists of 10 short pieces, which are all named after a certain painting by Hartmann; also, 4 short "promenades" that take place outside the main fabric of the piece (Russ 1992).

Viktor Hartmann died on 23 July, 1873 of an aneurysm at an early age of 39. He was at the point of his career where he was just beginning to artistically realize his concepts and his...
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