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Overview (3)

Born in Karevo, Pskov Governorate, Russian Empire [now Russia]
Died in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire [now Russia]
Birth NameModest Petrovich Mussorgsky

Mini Bio (2)

In 1856 Moussorgsky joined the Russian army where he met the piano player and composer 'Balakirev' who taught him composition. As he could not finish his studies in music, Moussorgsky did not know all stylistic means of composition perfectly and thus had to follow his instinct in his works becoming the pathmaker of the musical impressionism as well as expressionism: He was the first to compose realistic pictures, e.g. "Pictures at an Exhibition". Having no success during his lifetime Moussorgsky spent all of his fortune ending up a poor man addicted to alcohol.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Volker Boehm

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was born on March 21, 1839, in his ancestral estate of Karevo, Pskov province, Russia. He was the 30th generation from Rurik the Great, the first King of ancient Kiev Rus. Mussorgsky's family were wealthy landowners and belonged to Russian landed gentry.

Young Mussorgsky studied piano from the age of six under the tutelage of his mother, who herself was a trained pianist. At the age of nine he was able to perform pieces by Franz Liszt and a piano concerto by John Field in public. At ten he began his studies in St. Petersburg's elite Peterschule (St. Peter's School), where his piano teacher was virtuoso Anton Herke. In 1852, at the age of 12, Mussorgsky published a piano piece titled "Porte-enseigne Polka". Around that time he was described by Alexander Borodin as an "elegant piano-playing dilettante" at a private party. Mussorgsky continued his music studies while attending the Cadet School of the Imperial Guards. He graduated from the school in 1856 and was posted to the Imperial Guards Regiment in St. Petersburg.

In 1857, through his fellow officer Ceasar Cui, Mussorgsky met composers Alexander Dargomyzsky and Mili Balakirew. He studied composition under Balakirev, including the piano sonatas and symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven. At that time Mussorgsky's own compositions were leaning more towards the foreign models: his four-hand piano sonata (1860) and "Intermezzo in modo classico" for piano solo were composed as European-sounding pieces. Soon Mussorgsky had freed himself from the influences of Balkirev and became involved in a production of "A Life for the Tsar", an opera by Mikhail Glinka. He also worked on two original operas: from 1858-61 he was writing "Oedipus in Athens" and from 1863-66 he composed "Salammbo", based on the eponymous novel by Gustave Flaubert.

He suffered a major emotional trauma, caused by the loss of the family estate after the emancipation of serfs in 1861, forcing Mussorgsky to move and take a clerical job in St. Petersburg. In 1865 his beloved mother died; Mussorgsky suffered from anxiety and depression, and had his first serious bout of alcoholism. At that time he lived in a commune with six other men in St. Petersburg. He was influenced by the writings of provocative revolutionary Nikolay Chernyshevskiy, known for the assertion that, in art, "form and content are opposites," and who also coined the phrase "the worse the better" to indicate that the worse the social conditions became for the poor, the more inclined they would be to revolt. Being torn between his service and his passion for music, Mussorgsky quit his job and focused on his new composition, a symphonic poem "A Night on Bald Mountain". After it was rejected by Balakirev in 1867, Moussorgsky fell into a deeper depression. He suffered from a bout of dipsomania and was called "almost an idiot" by nationalists Balakirev and Stasov. However, he managed to overcome his problem and re-entered government service.

From 1870-72 he worked on "Boris Godunov", an opera based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin. The first version was rejected by the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre because of its lack of any "prima donna" role. At that time Mussorgsky was a roommate of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who helped to make changes that even exceeded those requested by the Mariinsky Theatre. "Boris Godunov" premiered in 1874, but after official criticism of Mussorgsky's music, it received only a dozen performances. He split from the nationalistic circle of Balakirev and suffered another bout of depression after the death of his friend, artist Viktor Hartmann. In memory of Hartmann he wrote the piano suite "Pictures at an Exhibition", a musical interpretation of Hartmann's pictures, which inspired Mussorgsky to break some old rules of piano playing.

Mussorgsky's later works, "Songs and Dances of Death" and the opera "Khovanshchina", were sparks of a genius in an ailing body. The music impressed his frie+nds and his superiors at the government office, where he was allowed to take longer vacations to go on concert tours. He toured and concertized with singer Darya Leonova. However, the decline in his health was neglected and led to complications and frequent epileptic seizures. He started drinking again and was dismissed from government service in January of 1880. Loyal Leonova helped provide him with concert gigs and a home. They made successful performances during December of 1880.

In February of 1881 Mussorgsky suffered from epileptic seizures. He caught pneumonia and was hospitalized in the Imperial Military Hospital in St. Petersburg. At that time Ilya Repin painted the famous portrait of Mussorgsky in a hospital robe, in what were to be the last days of the composer's life.

Modest Mussorgsky died on March 28, 1881, in St. Petersburg, and was laid to rest in the Necropolis of Masters of Art in St. Aleksandr Nevsky Convent in St. Petersburg, Russia.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov (qv's & corredtions by A Nonymous

Trivia (1)

Famous for his musical masterpiece "Saint John's Night on a Bare Mountain", sometimes referred to as "Night on a Bare Mountain", or even more popularly as "Night on Bald Mountain". It was the inspiration for the final animated segment of Walt Disney's Fantasia (1940), in which the composition was followed immediately without a pause by Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria".

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