The Great Gate of Kiev was inspired by a sketch that Hartmann made of a huge, monumental gate that he designed to commemorate the fact that the Tzar (king) Alexander the II had survived an attempted assassination attempt. There was a big contest for architects to see who would win the prize for best gate and Hartmann won, but sadly the gate was never actually built. Where is Kiev?
Here are some other monumental gates that were built that still exist. Gates or monuments are often built to honor heroes or celebrate national events. In Australia, the Australian War memorial was built to commemorate fallen soldiers. This website is devoted to all the monuments and memorials in Australia.
Listen to/watch The Great Gate of Kiev. What instruments to you see/hear playing? In this movement, are only a few instruments playing or is the whole orchestra playing at the same time? Is the music mostly loud or soft? What are some words to describe the feeling of the music? How does the feeling of the music match the picture of heroic gates that open up into a city to celebrate that the king is alive?
Why do you think this is the end of the piece? What feeling does it leave you with about Hartmann’s life and Mussorgsky’s response to his life? Are you sad at the end of this piece or something else?
Brainstorm your picture. What do you think the gates look like? Are they big or small? Can you see behind the gates into the city? Are the gates decorated with anything, like flags or other small monuments? Are there people in the picture? Are there any birds or other animals around? What’s the weather like? If you’d like, your gate can reflect any topic. What would you celebrate in your life with a monument or a gate? How would you make a gate to enter your house? Or would you prefer to create a gate to lead somewhere else? Or a stand alone monument?