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Modest Mussorgsky

Biography

Born: Mar 21, 1839; Russia   Died: Mar 28, 1881; Russia   Period: Romantic
His musical education was erratic, he toiled as a civil servant and wrote music only part-time, influenced few if any of his contemporaries, died early from alcoholism, and left a small body of work. Yet Modest Mussorgsky was a towering figure in nineteenth century Russian music. His works exhibit a daring, raw individuality, a unique sound that well-meaning associates tried to conventionalize and smooth over. He is best known for Night on Bald Read more Mountain (bowdlerized by Rimsky-Korsakov), Pictures at an Exhibition (a difficult piano suite orchestrated by Ravel), and the dark, declamatory opera Boris Godunov (polished by Rimsky-Korsakov) -- bastardized works all, yet each one full of arresting harmonies, disturbing colors, and grim celebrations of Russian nationalism.
Mussorgsky died in poverty, but he was born to a wealthy landowning family. Under his mother's tutelage, he developed a facility at the piano, but entered a cadet school in preparation for a military career. He joined a choir and discovered Russian church music, which would profoundly influence his later work.
Upon graduation in 1856, Mussorgsky entered the Russian Imperial Guard. That year he started to socialize with the composers Dargomizhsky and Cui, and through them Balakirev, with whom he began composition lessons. During this period he wrote small piano pieces and songs, and after an emotional crisis in 1858 resigned his commission with the intention of composing full-time. He began to go his own way as a composer in 1861, but was preoccupied helping to manage his family's estate. The decline in his family's fortunes led him to accept low-level civil service positions. He joined a commune with other intellectuals and became a proponent of musical Realism, applying the style to his songs. He had difficulty finishing works in larger formats, but his music circulated widely enough that by the late 1860s he was cast with Balakirev, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin as part of Russia's "Mighty Handful."
Mussorgsky toiled many years at his masterpiece, Boris Godunov, which reflected in music the inflections of Russian speech and met with great success in 1874. That year he also produced his innovative piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition. Yet his heavy drinking led to his dismissal from government service in 1880. Friends offered some financial help and Mussorgsky occasionally accompanied singers at the piano, but his finances and mental state quickly deteriorated. He died in 1881, leaving it to posterity to sort through and complete his unfinished works of unruly genius. Read less
Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition; Liszt: Piano Concerto No 1
Release Date: 09/30/2008   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8570716   Number of Discs: 1
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Stokowski Transcriptions - Bach, Wagner, Mussorgsky / Serebrier, Bournemouth SO
Release Date: 04/27/2010   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8505086   Number of Discs: 5
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Mussorgsky Edition
Release Date: 09/24/2013   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94670   Number of Discs: 14
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Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition, Etc / Kuchar, Et Al
Release Date: 04/15/2003   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8555924   Number of Discs: 1
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Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition, Etc / Serebrier
Release Date: 06/21/2005   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8557645   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Boris Godunov: Boris' Monologue

Browse 51-53 of 53 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Christoff Sings Russian Arias & Songs
    Label: Références   Catalog: 64252 Release Date: 01/19/1993  
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Alexander Borodin,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Boris Christoff,  Gerald Moore
    Conductor:  Issay Dobroven
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 52.
    Prima Voce - Chaliapin
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7823 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Jacques Ibert,  Alexander Grechaninov,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  George Godzinsky,  Feodor Chaliapin,  Cedric Sharpe,  Ivor Newton  ... 
    Conductor:  Jacques Ibert,  Nicolai Afonsky,  Max Steimann,  Lawrence Collingwood  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian Metropolitan Church Choir Paris,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 53.
    Feodor Chaliapin Sings Russian Music Vol I
    Label: Pearl   Catalog: 9920 Release Date: 10/1991   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alexander Dargomizhsky,  Mikhail Glinka,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Alexander Borodin  ... 
    Performer:  Feodor Chaliapin,  Margherita Carosio,  Angelo Bada,  Georgi Pozemkovsky
    Conductor:  Max Steinmann,  Vincenzo Bellezza,  Rosario Bourdon,  Sir Eugene Goossens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra  ... 
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