Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky

1839 - 1881



Russian composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was born on March 21st 1839 in Karevo, just south of Saint Petersburg. He was a particularly innovative Russian composer and member of The Five who worked to try and achieve a uniquely and distinctively Russian musical identity, often in intentional opposition to the established traditions of Western art music. Much like other members of The Five, Mussorgsky began life in the military and, after meeting Balakirev became convinced that he should leave the military and devote his life to music, mostly after Balakirev had expanded his listening and ways of thinking about music. Many of Mussorgsky’s works have been taken into the classical canon of regularly performed works. Many of them were also inspired by Russian historical events and folklore, among other nationalist concepts with notable examples including opera Boris Godunov, orchestral tone poem Night on a Bare Mountain and the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition. For a long time, public recognition of Mussorgsky’s major works was mainly of their completed or revised forms – completions and revisions made by other composers (particularly the other composers in The Five). However, since important evidence has come to light and many of his major works have been republished in their original forms.