Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition (original piano version)



Pictures at an Exhibition is a suite in ten movements, with interpolated variations on a Promenade theme, composed for piano by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874.

One of Mussorgsky’s friends was the artist Viktor Hartmann, who died suddenly in 1873 at the age of 39. Over 400 Hartmann works were exhibited in the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Russia in February and March 1874. Mussorgsky lent works from his personal collection to the exhibit and viewed the show in person. Fired by the experience, he composed Pictures at an Exhibition in six weeks. The music depicts an imaginary tour of an art collection. Titles of individual movements allude to works by Hartmann.

Mussorgsky based his musical material on drawings and watercolours that Hartmann produced mostly during the artist’s travels abroad. Locales include Poland, France and Italy; the final movement depicts an architectural design for the capital city of Ukraine. Today most of the pictures from the Hartmann exhibit are lost, making it impossible to be sure in many cases which Hartmann works Mussorgsky had in mind.

This video shows the Hartmann drawings and paintings that are likely linked to individual sections of the suite.

source

Fahad Hameed

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22 thoughts on “Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition (original piano version)

  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Thank you for your performance and for posting the information and artwork!  I will use this site for my Elementary School General Music classes (1st Graders).   

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Ashkenazy's version on my fathers cd gave me inspiration for  months of practicing just to get 20 secs right, you are giving met that feeling all over again, thanks! you are amazing!

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    A beautifully limpid and meticulously articulate performance. Gives the impression of letting the music speak. Plenty of subtle but never overdone dynamic contrast. Worthy of repeated listening. Super!

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Realmente una de las más claras y bellas rendiciones pianísticas de CDUE de Mussorgsky, tanto en la técnica como en la interpretación. Felicitaciones. Muchas gracias.

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    wonderful version, Mr. Finnegan. personal but persuasive.  (I may prefer it to Plowright or Pletnev, since I'm on a roll with "p")

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Such an excellent rendering of this great work. Mi complete admiration for your art and for your strength of character. In my humble opinion your tempo in this rendering is a ne plus ultra.Then, it is so clear that you got so deeply identified with the spirit of both the works of Hartman and the way that Mussorgsky wanted to express them. It has been a most gratifying and satisfactory experience to have had the opportunity to listen to this great performance among many others which do not catch nor transmit the original feeling of the composer. If I was to be as so absurdly picky as to ask anything more in it, accordingly with my particular taste, would be only some more energy, some more emphasis and force in the founding notes of the contrasting attacks and then in the same attacks in Baba Yaga's isba and in The Great Gate of Kiev (I guess that if I could have been a pianist I would have tried to "re-translate",. to "re-transcript" the way that Ravel made these two parts sound in his superb orchestral version into a piano rendering). Again, my most expressive thanks and my very best wishes and regards to you.

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    I was able to hear and feel the bells of the Great Gate. Thank you for that.

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    I must say, I LOVED the "Catacombs". Now I'm a tuba player who loves great brass pieces and man are there some awesome chords with the brass but, I just love THIS piano interpretation. It's so genuine. The mental picture it paints is just breathtaking. Mussorgsky is truly a musical genius. Thank you very much. I have enjoyed it very much.

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Although  minimal schooled in music , i would like to add that for the raw piece that mussorsgky composed the piano versions reflect the true spirit of his compositions, not polished

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    I'm glad to know that Pictures is still loved and performed today. I thought that when I started learning it, all of the videos I would find would be from the 1990s and maybe early 2000s. I'm a classical music freak and pianist, and I can't stand the modern music today. I'm glad to know that this a fresh recording of Pictures at an Exhibition from such a distinguished, virtuoso pianist as yourself ! Just a bit of trivia, there was/is no original picture for Limoges, le marché. Hartmann's most distinguished watercoulours were from Limoges, France, most of the prestigious cathedral. However, none of them are in alignment of Mussorgsky's work. It is likely the general milieu is of Mussorgsky's invention. None of Hartmann's paintings contained Frenchwomen quarreling and gossiping in the marketplace at Limoges. Mussorgsky DID have two paragraphs of the gossip (La Grande Nouvelle) in the original autograph, but later omitted them.

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Absolutely stunning! Thank you so very much for this virtuosic performance.

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    I've listened to this the whole way through about five or six times in the past three days.

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Splendid! Mussorgsky has long been my favorite composer and I periodically check for new performances of 'Pictures' on youtube. This has been the best I've heard for some time. Thank you for posting it!

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  • September 29, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    The background of the exhibition of Hartmann's works as well as Mussorgsky's  motivation are well illustrated and explained. The interpretation of this piece is very authentic and so clear as I have rarely heard it before. Well done. 

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