Modest Mussorgski

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was born in Karevo on 21 March 1839. His parents ran an estate and enabled Mussorgsky to learn to play the piano at a very early age. He was sent to a cadet school, from which he graduated in 1856. He then served in the military hospital in St.Petersburg. He became acquainted with the musical world and it was Alexeyevich Balakirev who introduced him to composing. In 1860, when Mussorgsky was 21 years old, his Scherzo, which he had orchestrated with Balakirev's help, was successfully premiered under the direction of Anton Rubinstein. At the same time, the young composer pursued work as a secretary in state departments. From 1868, Mussorgsky worked on the opera Boris Godunov after his failed attempt to transform Gustave Flaubert's novel Salammbô into a stage work. In 1873, Boris Godunov had its celebrated premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre. However, the critical reaction was less unanimous. After the premiere, Mussorgsky's mental and physical health deteriorated and his alcoholism intensified. In better moments, he worked on the opera Khovanshchina among other projects. In 1874 he composed the piano cycle Pictures at an Exhibition. He also wrote the two song cycles Songs and Dances of Death and Without the Sun. In 1879 Mussorgsky undertook a three-month tour of southern Russia with the singer Dary Leonova. It was she who took Mussorgsky in during the last weeks of his life before he was hospitalised. He died on 28 March 1881.
(Information as of 2022)