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Last post Mon, Mar 14 2011 by William, 12 replies.
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Posted on Wed, Mar 09 2011 00:28
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

Because the other thread by that computer simulation xumeng just mentioned Mussorgsky in favor of the less original but more successful Rimsky Korsakov, I have to post something about the greatest of all Russian composers.  He may have been messed up in his private existence, which led to problems with his music, but he established Russia as a pure musical entity infinitely more than Tchaikovsky who was kowtowing to Western European traditions and therefore internationally famous at the time that Mussorgsky was unknown.  However, the songs and operas of Mussorgsky, not to mention the spectacular showpieces of Pictures at an Exhibiton and Night on Bald Mountain, incorporated the slavic motifs and folksong he grew up with in an intensely personal romantic style that is far above the others of the so-called Mighty Five.  There is an excellent bio of him recently published by David Brown that is far moe complete than previous ones.  

btw, his original orchestration of Night on Bald Mountain - which was used by Stokowski - was owned by Gregorovich Stanislavsky (Gregory Stone) who created the Reno Philharmonic here in Nevada cowboy country. 

Posted on Wed, Mar 09 2011 00:41
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

I predict NOBODY will respond to this thread.


Because it is not about Hans Zimmer.

Posted on Wed, Mar 09 2011 01:01
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1114

Who the hell are these Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky??!!... I can't find them in the IMDB - a.k.a. the Bible. They must be insignificant, let alone be Oscar winners like our Hans - the Prophet - Zimmer.

And where did you get these movies, Pictures or other, Night on Bald Mountain... Are these artsy-fartsy Euro-cult flicks? They're not in the IMDB either... Are you sure you didn't mean Night on Bareback Mountain? That would be more like it and appropriate since that film did get an Academy Award for Best (sic) Original (sic sic sic) Score. Those films you mention probably stank! Music and all... Their directors should have known better and hire ex-hiphop/trance/jungle/rave/urban........ DJs/producers to score them; those guys really breathe originality into anything they scratch, loop, filter, and touch (automate). Look what they did for TRON 2!

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Wed, Mar 09 2011 04:08
by heartandsoul
Joined on Thu, Oct 21 2004, Chicago USA, Posts 9

I didn't think there was any chance I was going to log in, let alone post, I just haven't been through the forums for awhile, and it's one of my favorite communities.  But to see a post about Mussorgsky and then the prediction that no one will respond to it was too much.  Really enjoyed the post (and the response about movies too:)).  Did Mussorgsky ever do an orchestration for Pictures?  It's true that the piano composition seems profoundly Russian, but I would have to have said the same of the Ravel orchestration if I didn't know it was French.  Maybe because of the strength of the original composition, but it is a remarkable collaboration.  Did they ever meet?

Posted on Wed, Mar 09 2011 15:29
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

No they never met as Mussorgsky died when Ravel was a child, and Mussorgsky never orchestrated it himself.  By the way I just noticed an excellent brief bio


The point it makes about the harmonic "irregularities" and "crudeness" of some of Mussorgsky's work actually being the most original aspect is very true, and Rimsky, Tchaikovsky and other European influenced composers couldn't understand this at the time. 

Posted on Wed, Mar 09 2011 17:14
by fritzflotow
Joined on Mon, Apr 23 2007, Posts 330
Errikos wrote:
Who the hell are these Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky??!!... I can't find them in the IMDB - a.k.a. the Bible. They must be insignificant, let alone be Oscar winners like our Hans - the Prophet - Zimmer.


Posted on Thu, Mar 10 2011 04:40
by heartandsoul
Joined on Thu, Oct 21 2004, Chicago USA, Posts 9

That is a great short bio, thanks for finding it.  I never really had a sense of how innovative the changes in Pictures at an Exhibition are, or that Rimsky-Korsakoff had revised so much of his work.  Does that mean that the Ravel orchestration was built partially from Rimsky-Korsakoff's revisions?

Posted on Fri, Mar 11 2011 11:37
by PaulR
Joined on Mon, Dec 22 2003, England, Posts 2371

I remember getting the piano score to Pictures and still have it and still refer to it as Bilder Einer Austerllung to this day. It's very difficult to play in places. One of the great moments for me was to stand watching Keith Emerson play it with Lake and Palmer down in Plymouth in 1971 and at the Isle of Wight in 1970.  After all, it is a keyboard work and Hammonds and Moogs are keyboards. Emerson showed great keyboard dexterity and pyrotechnics throughout the sections of Pictures and the subsequent improvisations in between. There are purists who may say that this is not really the correct thing - but a lot of people were introduced to classics through Emerson through 1967 onwards. Especially Bach.

In the same way a lot of people who had never heard of Scott Joplin were introduced to that piano form through Marvin Hamlisch vis a vis The Sting and subsequently Joshua Rifkin. The same way Disney offered up Fantasia etc etc.

Posted on Sat, Mar 12 2011 00:03
by kleinholgi
Joined on Sat, May 09 2009, Posts 171

I remember that Pictures at an exhibition had been the 2nd CD bought in my life.

Music eduction in school wasn´t all that good, but this piece left an impression big enough. This recording was conducted by Karajan. Not that bad, but some years later I discovered the RCA Living Stereo with Reiner conducting  - I think -Chicago Symphony . This still is my favourite.

Posted on Sun, Mar 13 2011 03:49
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

 Yeah those Living Stereo recordings are great and Reiner/ Chicago did spectacular performances.  Also Sprach Zarathrustra was one he did in that series that is tremendous both sonically and musically. 

On the original score of Pictures, the written version of Mussorgsky was what Ravel used.  It was on his orchestral and operatic works that the alternations were made, since his orchestrations were rather incomplete according to all accounts.  Especially with Khovanshchina and Night on Bald Mountain.  You can hear how Rimsky inserted little fanfares and other sections into it that Mussorgsky never wrote.  This is unfortunately the version that is always played.  The one that Stokowski recorded - which the composer/conductor Gregory Stone  told me Stokowski stole from him - is more faithful to Mussorgsk'y original score which is very powerful.. Though Stokowski of course would often re-orchestrate things himself.

Posted on Mon, Mar 14 2011 09:32
by knievel
Joined on Thu, May 28 2009, Newcastle, England, Posts 80

Fab thread

As a result (or by coincidence?) after reading it I was looking for some concerts to book in advance (so I always have a few to look forward to!) when this popped up!


A Mussorgsky evening of music and discussion, put on by the LPO.

Should be an extremely interesting evening.

I'll let you all know how it goes!!


Edit: here's the programme:

Mussorgsky Night on a Bare Mountain (original)
Mussorgsky (orch. Zimmermann) In the Village; On the Southern Shore of the Crimea
Alexander Raskatov A White Night's Dream (Homage to Mussorgsky) for orchestra (world première)*
Zimmermann Stille und Umkehr (orchestral sketches)
Mussorgsky (orch. Raskatov) Songs and Dances of Death (UK première)

Posted on Mon, Mar 14 2011 15:27
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

That sounds like a great concert, I wish I could go!  It is interesting to see those orchestrations.  I always thought that "Pictures" was so perfectly suited to the orchestra that it was surprising it was originally for piano.  The piano music and songs of Mussorgsky are so powerful they seem to demand orchestration.

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