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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


MUSSORGSKY, Modeste
b Karesk, 21 March 1839
d St Petersburg, 18 March 1881, aged forty-two

His father was a landowner. As a child he studied piano, but he rebelled against his teachers. He was intended for a military career, and at the age of ten entered the military academy at St Petersburg. At the age of seventeen he joined a Guards Regiment and began drinking heavily- a habit that eventually killed him. He met a number of great composers, including Balakirev, under whose influence he, too, began to compose. However, his originality and his innovations did not appeal to his contemporaries. He left the Army, and in 1863, when he was twenty-five, the Russian liberation of the serfs so impoverished his family that he took the job of a government clerk. Rimsky-Korsakov, whom he had met in 1861, shared a room with him. His operas were not well received, and his drinking increased. He toured southern Russia for a time as an accompanist, but in 1881 was thrown out of his lodgings and had an epileptic fit. He survived, in a military hospital, for only one more month.

1857 (18)

Souvenir d'enfance, for piano

1858 (19)

Scherzo for orchestra

Edipo, for mixed chorus (1858-60)

1859 (20)

Marcia di Sciamie, for soloists, choir and orchestra

Impromptu passione, for piano

1861 (22)

Alla marcia notturna, for orchestra

Scherzo and Finale for a symphony in D major (1861-2)

1867 (28)

St John's Night on the Bare Mountain, for piano

La disfatta di Sennacherib, first version for choir and orchestra

Symphonic Intermezzo 'in modo classico'

1868 (29)

fp Zenitha (The Marriage), opera (private performance)

The Nursery, song cycle (1868-72)

1869 (30)

Boris Godunov, opera, first version with piano (rewritten 1872)

1872 (33)

Khovantschina, opera

1874 (35)

Pictures from an Exhibition, for piano

Sunless, song cycle

Sorochinsky Fair, opera (a passage from this work was freely arranged and orchestrated as Night on the Bare Mountain by Rimsky-Korsakov, qv)

Jesus Navin, for contralto, bass, choir and piano (1874-7)

1875-7 (36-8)

Songs and Dances of Death, song cycle

1879 (40)

'Song of the Flea', setting of Mephistopheles' song in Goethe's Faust

1880 (41)

Five Popular Russian Songs, for male chorus

Turkish March, for orchestra

Meditation, for piano

Une larme, for piano

Au village, for piano

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