A visitor to a museum or a gallery will often spend a few hours in the space, strolling leisurely from one work of art to another, thinking about what they have seen. The Promenades are not paintings; each one is a musical description of the act and feeling of walking around the art exhibit.
Listen to each promenade. They are all based on the same melody but each one is different. How? Here are some things to think about and listen for:
- the tempo of each promenade (fast, slow, medium, both, all?)
- the mood and feeling of each promenade (happy, sad, proud, scared, etc.?)
- What instruments do you hear/see playing? How does the particular sound and timbre of the instruments playing change the character and effect of the music?
- Listen to the movement/painting that comes before each promenade. How does the topic of the painting affect the mood of the walk just after? If you had just seen a particular painting, how would you feel and how might that make you walk differently after? Would you have more or less bounce in your step?
The last movement/painting The Great Gate of Kiev uses the same melody as the Promenades. Even though it isn’t titled “Promenade,” the music reminds us again of Mussorgsky walking through the exhibition; it is almost like the last and final Promenade. Think about Mussorgsky looking at the paintings made by his dear friend, whom he had just lost. Can you imagine what he was feeling as he walked through the exhibit? Do you think you can hear his feelings come through the music? Do you think his feelings change from the beginning of the exhibit to the end of the exhibit? Listen to all the promenades in order. Can you make a chart of how he might have felt as he walked through the exhibit, from beginning to end? How do you think he felt when he left? How does this piece end?