Classical Jazz '05


Year/Date of Composition 1874 (June 2-22)
First Publication 1886 (possibly 1887) – St. Petersburg:

Pictures at an Exhibition was composed originally for piano. The work did not appear in print until 1886* (five years after the composer's death), when an edition by the composer's great friend Nikolay Rimski-Korsakov was published by the St. Petersburg firm V. Bessel & Co. (plate 1560). This first publication was not a completely accurate representation of Mussorgsky's score, but presented a revised text that introduced a few editorial changes, along with a few errors and misreadings. In contrast to the drastic revisions he made to Boris Godunov, Rimsky's editorial changes to this work were relatively minor - despite some extravagant claims to the contrary by the editors of subsequent scores issued by Western publishers. [The Wikipedia article linked below repeats this widespread mis-characterization of Rimsky's editorial changes.] The most significant change can be found in the Bydlomovement, where Mussorgsky's original dynamic scheme - starting with a fortissimo - was replaced with one of Rimsky's own invention starting withpianissimo. This, along with the other few changes, was repeated in a number of subsequent editions and orchestrations, including the very famous one prepared in 1922 by Maurice Ravel.

Only in 1931, more than half a century after the work's composition, was Pictures at an Exhibition published in a scholarly edition in agreement with the composer's manuscript.

*The censor's approval date on page 2 of the Bessel score is 11 September 1886. However, the date of the catalogue listings on the inside back over is 19 January 1887.


Movements/Sections 16 (including Promenades)
  • Promenade [I]
  • 1. Gnomus
  • [Promenade II]. Moderato commodo assai e con delicatezza
  • 2. Il Vecchio Castello
  • [Promenade III]. Moderato non tanto, pesamente
  • 3. Tuileries (Dispute d'enfants après jeux)
  • 4. Bydo
  • [Promenade IV]. Tranquillo
  • 5.   
[Balet nevylupivshikhsya ptentsov] - Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
  • 6. "Samuel" Goldenberg und "Schmuÿle"
  • Promenade [V]
  • 7. Limoges, le marché (La grande nouvelle)
  • 8. Catacombæ (Sepulcrum romanum)
  • Cum mortuis in lingua mortua
  • 9.     (-)
[Izbushka na kuryikh nozhkakh (Baba-Yagá)] - The Hut on Fowl's Legs (Baba-Yagá)
  • 10.   (    )
[Bogatyrskiye vorota (V stolnom gorode vo Kiyeve)]
The Knight's Gate (in the Old Capital of Kiev) or The Great Gate of Kiev

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