Ether Game

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: unusual architecture…

Following the death of his friend, the painter Viktor Hartmann, Mussorgsky attended a posthumous exhibition of Hartmann’s work. Several of these paintings inspired movements in this suite. One movement depicts Baba-Yar, a witch from Eastern European and Russian folklore. Supposedly, Baba-Yar would kidnap and devour children, and lived in the forest in a house on chicken legs. Like Baba-Yar, the inspiration for “Great Gate at Kiev” didn’t actually exist in real life! The ruins of a medieval gate have been present at Kiev for centuries, with varied attempts at reconstruction being made over the years. But Mussorgsky’s inspiration was not the original gate, but rather an architectural sketch Hartmann made for a new gate to be built on the same site. Hartmann’s new gate was officially approved, but was never constructed.

Music Heard On This Episode

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition: The Hut on Fowl’s Legs
Byron Janis, piano — Byron Janis Plays Mussorgsky (Philips, 2005)
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album cover
Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition: The Hut on Fowl’s Legs
Byron Janis, piano — Byron Janis Plays Mussorgsky (Philips, 2005)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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