Mn Mussorgsky "Pictures at an Exhibition"
Modest Mussorgsky's piano creativity cannot be imagined without the famous cycle Pictures at an Exhibition. Bold, truly innovative musical solutions were implemented by the composer in this composition. Bright, satirical images, theatricality - this is what is characteristic of this cycle. You can listen to the works, learn interesting facts and history of creation, as well as read musical annotations to each number in this article.
History of creation
Modest Mussorgsky was a kindly sympathetic person, so people were drawn to him and tried to make friends with him. One of the composer’s best friends was a talented artist and architect Victor Hartman. They spent a lot of time talking and often met discussing art. The death of such a close-minded person horrified the musician. After the tragic event, Mussorgsky recalled that at the last meeting he did not pay attention to the terrible state of the architect’s health. He thought that such attacks in breathing are the consequences of active nervous activity, which is so characteristic of creative people.
A year after the death of Hartman, by the will of Stasov, a huge exhibition was organized, which included works by a talented master from watercolor to oil painting. Of course, Modest Petrovich could not miss this event. The exhibition was a success. Artwork made a strong impression on the composer, so he immediately began to compose a cycle of works. That spring, 1874, the writer limited himself to improvisation, but in the summer all the miniatures were ready in just three weeks.
- Modest Mussorgsky wrote this cycle of works for piano, the most successful orchestration was created by the famous composer Maurice Ravel. The selection of timbres fully consistent with the images. The premiere of the orchestrated version took place in the fall of 1922 in Paris. After the first performance, the forgotten "Pictures at an Exhibition" regained popularity. Many world-famous conductors wanted to perform a cycle.
- During the life of the author, the cycle was never published. The first edition took place only five years after death.
- There are 19 orchestrations of this suite.
- Gartman's dwarf is a nutcracker on twisted legs.
- The exhibition featured about four hundred different exhibits. Mussorgsky chose only a few of the brightest, in his opinion, pictures.
- Unfortunately, samples of drawings on which miniatures were written were lost.
- Despite the fact that the work of Hartman became the inspiration, the cycle was dedicated to Stasov, who greatly helped and assisted in the implementation of Mussorgsky’s plans.
- The editors of the first collection published in print belong to the genius Rimsky-Korsakov. At the same time, as a teacher at the Conservatory, the composer pretty hard tried to correct all sorts of copyright "mistakes." So, the works have lost a lot, they have lost their innovation. Nevertheless, the circulation was sold fairly quickly. The second edition was under the direction of Stasov, who did not change anything in the manuscripts. The popularity of this publication did not justify the hopes of the critic, the pianists believed that they were too heavy to perform.
"Pictures at an Exhibition" is a unique suite woven from piano miniatures. The author helps the listener to feel like a visitor to the Hartmann exhibition. Pictures change one after another, combines the whole cycle "Walk". Given that the suite has a program, the music draws fairly free images and scenes, interconnected by the musical material of the first number. Depending on the attitude of the author to what he sees changes. Thus, the through form of the work is traced, it is continuously evolving. The alternation of numbers is carried out in a contrasting manner.
stroll. The first number seems to draw steps. The melody resembles a Russian folk song, not only with a variable meter, but also with its own breadth and depth. The hero entered the exhibition hall. Slowly he approaches, the sonority increases, leading to a climax. In the letters to Stasov one can read that the author portrays himself, examining various exhibits. Light, cleanliness and spaciousness are the sensations that music gives. As mentioned earlier, the theme of the walk will permeate the suite from start to finish, constantly changing. The only thing that will remain unchanged is the people's warehouse and stateliness.
Dwarf. Funny and simultaneously touching number. A fantastic little ridiculous creature that is characterized by constant jumps, angularities in melody, also knows how to feel the world. Complaining intonation shows that the gnome is sad. This psychological portrait reveals the versatility of the image. The development of the image is rapid. After reaching a climax, the composer again returns the theme “Walks”, significantly shortened in comparison with the first version, it combines two numbers.
old lock. The lyrical hero comes to the next work of art watercolor drawing, written in Italy. What he sees: an old medieval castle in front of which the lover troubadour sings. Sad melody pours from the mouth of a young musician. Thoughtfulness, agitation and sadness permeate the musical number. The constantly recurring bass allows you to reproduce the music of the Middle Ages, the theme varies, resembling live singing. The middle part is filled with light, which again gives way to dark shades. Everything gradually subsides, only the last phrase on fortissimo, destroys silence. A short walk to the next picture allows you to modulate the key of the next number in C major.
"Old Castle" (listen)
Tuileries Garden. The luxurious garden near the Paris Tuileries palace is filled with light and joy. Small children frolic and enjoy life in the company of nannies. The rhythm is fully consistent with children's teasers and counting. The work is polyphonic, two themes are held simultaneously, one of them is an image of children, and the other is nannies.
Cattle. The play begins with a sharp fortissimo; it is a strong contrast. Rides a heavy wagon. Two-meter meter emphasizes the simplicity and unresponsiveness of the melody. The squeaks of the wheels of heavy carts, the mooing of oxen and the sad song of a peasant are heard. Gradually, the music subsides, the cart has gone far, far away. The theme of the first number comes in, but it sounds in a minor. This conveys the mood of the lyrical hero, he is immersed in his own thoughts.
Ballet Chicks. The hero did not immediately pay attention to the next exhibit. Bright sketches for the ballet "Trilbi". A light and undisturbed scherzo is written in three-part form da capo. This is a dance of little canaries. Comedy and naivety literally pervade the number.
"Ballet of the Unstatched Chicks" (listen)
Samuel Goldberg and Schmuile or Two Jews - Rich and Poor. Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky especially admired the two pictures at the exhibition. Figurative expressiveness manifested itself in this musical number. Special color is created with the help of the gypsy range. The second theme is filled with mournful intonations. In the future, the themes will be connected and sound together. In the story, the poor Jew asks for help from the rich, but he does not agree. The last word is for the rich man. This number is characterized by politonality.
"Two Jews - rich and poor" (listen)
The first part of the cycle ends with a walk, which almost completely repeats the musical material of the first number.
Limoges. In a small town in France, the most notorious gossips have gathered on the market. The rumble of talk does not stop for a second. Around reigns the spirit of vanity and fun. One of the most fun and cheerful suites. But the gaze of the lyrical hero falls on another picture, the music breaks off and another number begins.
Catacombs. Everything seemed frozen, hopelessness and pain predominate in this work. The tonality of B minor has always been a symbol of tragic predestination. Intonation complaints transmit horror from what he saw. Tonal instability determines the drama of the suite. The composer seems to want to convey the irreplaceable sense of loss that arose after the death of the talented artist Hartmann. Sounds the continuation of this number "With the dead in a dead language." It is based on the theme of the walk, which sounds slow and tragic. The feeling of grief is transmitted by dissonant harmonies. Tremolo in high registers creates an atmosphere of tension. Gradually, the modulation occurs in major, which means that the person has measured the fate prepared for him.
Hut on chicken legs or Baba Yaga. Sufficiently smooth transition to the festive finale can be considered the number "Hut on chicken legs." Fabulousness and mythology are clearly manifested in the play. The key in C major is enriched with altered steps, which adds gloom. The ominous atmosphere is transmitted by broken chords, everything in the image of a witch is angular and fantastic. The music is written in the genre of the Russian folk song, which determines the folklore and closeness to the national culture. The dynamic number ends with a takeoff. The chords of the final show up sharply.
"Hut on chicken legs" (listen)
Heroic Gate. The first theme sounded in many ways reminiscent of the tune “Walk”; now it sounds even more proud and majestic. Music fills the space, gaining strength and power. Like a hero rises to the defense of the motherland. The theme alternates with strict church chant, which sounds chamber, soulful and touching. Such contrasts allow us to express a rich emotional spectrum. The room ends with a festive bell ringing.
The use of music in the cinema
Many famous directors actively use individual numbers from the Mussorgsky series Pictures at an Exhibition. Each musical number has a pronounced image. The accuracy of the musical image transmission allows you to accurately depict the atmosphere of the films listed in the list:
- The Simpsons (2016)
- The Tree of Life (2011)
- "Fetish" (2008)
- “Burn After Reading” (2008)
- "Curiosity of George" (2008)
- "I am very high" (2007)
- "Looney Tunes: Back in Business" (2003)
- Histeria (2000)
- "Every Sunday" (1999)
- "Show Rena and Stimpy" (1994)
- Wittgenstein (1992)
- The Little Mermaid (1992)
- Nuclear Cafe (1982)
- "Mental hospital" (1972)
"Pictures from the exhibition" is a work that permits perpetuation of the moment. Mussorgsky was able to reveal a variety of artistic images and plots of a variety of musical colors.