Classical Music Talk

December 8, 2009

Modest Mussorgsky

Filed under: Uncategorized — classicalconnect @ 7:23 pm
Modest Mussorgsky

Modest Mussorgsky

Born on March 21, 1839, Modest Mussorgsky was imposed only posthumously in Russian music in nineteenth century. Even if he had specific studies, he was forced to settle for most of his life with a job of a modest clerk. He composed trying to combine the influences of Western tradition and legends of Russia, but his influence on age was minimal. Mussorgsky was virtually ignored by his contemporaries.

His compositions have been noted by the unique style and sonority, hard to accept initially, and the failures and disappointments made the musician to seek his refuge in alcohol, which will bring him to death. The best known compositions are “Images from an exhibition” (a difficult suite for piano orchestrated by Ravel) and especially the opera Boris Godunov (finished by Rimsky-Korsakov), creations with strange harmonies and considered later great artistic expressions of a specific culture.

Mussorgsky was born into a wealthy family, starting from childhood serious piano lessons, at the insistence of his mother. A talented native surprisingly particular, coupled with the will and passion for music, Mussorgsky would have liked to dedicate exclusively to classical music, but the decision of the family was already taken. The young artist had to become a military, so he was enrolled in a school for cadets. Nothing here was connected to music, but he began to sing in a choir of students, discovered on this occasion the religious music in Russia, who will influence him powerfully later in his creations. He graduated in 1856 and, as his father wanted, he was selected in the Imperial Guard.

That same year, knows the composers Dargomizhsky, then Balakirev, which will give him the first lessons in composition. Mussorgsky was hesitant at first, and then composed small pieces for piano, increasingly attracted to classical music.

In 1858 he decided to resign from the Imperial Guard, giving to anger the family to a career that is announced promising, as decided to become a composer. In 1861 his name became known, but as the family lost most of the assets, Mussorgsky is forced to work as clerk, the occupation he detested and which will occupy most of the time.

He keeps his old friends, attending artistic circles of the time and becomes an advocate of realism in music. Even if the lack of time will often forced him to leave the work unfinished, he became known.  Mussorgsky is considered the equal of composers much better known as Balakirev, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin.

He worked for several years on his masterpiece, Boris Godunov, which will have a great success in 1874, the year when Mussorgsky finished a suite for piano named Pictures from an exhibition. Unfortunately the artist drinks more and more, and in 1880 he is dismissed because of this problem. With the financial support of his friends, Mussorgsky not gives up but works increasingly less and starts to have moments of psychological violence. He died on March 28, 1881, completely ruined and sick, without even could finish last compositions.

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