by Modest Mussorgsky (orchestrated by Maurice Ravel)
Pictures at an Exhibition is a musical composition originally written for piano by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874. (Later the French composer Maurice Ravel turned the same music into a piece for orchestra, dividing the parts among many instruments. This is the version we will listen to below.) Mussorgsky wrote this piece after attending an art exhibition of works by his good friend Viktor Hartmann, an artist and architect who died suddenly at the age of 39. Mussorgsky was so sad about his friend’s death and so inspired by seeing his paintings, that after attending the exhibition he rushed home and composed music that reflected the drawings and paintings that he had seen. Most of Viktor Hartmann’s drawings and paintings are now lost, so we can only imagine what they might have looked like based on the music that Mussorgsky wrote. Your challenge — listen to each movement of Pictures at an Exhibition, embark on a voyage of research and discovery, re-imagine and draw or paint pictures to correspond with each movement, and curate your own Pictures at an Exhibition!
Pictures at an Exhibition is divided into ten movements that represent ten paintings (remember a movement is one part of the whole composition, kind of like a chapter in a book). These are interspersed with five little movements called Promenades. Promenade means to walk. The promenades are meant to portray the movement and feeling of walking from one painting to another in the exhibition. Here is a list of the movements (these are also the names of the paintings) with their timings in the video above.
First Promenade :35-2:15
The Gnome 2:16-4:54
Second Promenade 4:56-5:55
The Old Castle 5:56-10:29
Third Promenade 10:31-11:01
The Tuileries 11:02-12:10
Fourth Promenade 14:53-15:39
The Ballet of Unhatched Chicks in their Shell 15:40-16:58
Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle 16:59-19:17
The Market at Limoges 19:19-20:47
Fifth Promenade 22:27-24:29
Baba Yaga 24:30-28:12
The Great Gate of Kiev 28:12