LIFE: Modest Musorgsky is born into a wealthy land-owning family in the Pskov region of Russia. He begins music lessons from the age of six.
TIMES: Five thousand Russian troops set out to conquer the Khanate of Khiva (in modern-day Uzbekistan). Hindered by an exceptionally harsh winter, the expedition proves a disaster.
LIFE: Now an officer in the Russian
Imperial Guard, he meets the composer Dargomyzhsky, through whom he meets composers Cui and Balakirev and the critic Vladimir Stasov. TIMES: The Russian composer Mikhail Glinka dies, aged 52, in Berlin. After a few months, his body is disinterred and transported to St Petersburg for re-burial.
LIFE: Inspired by the drawings, watercolours and stage designs of Viktor Hartmann, a friend who died the previous year, he composes his Pictures at an Exhibition for solo piano.
TIMES: The Moscow-born mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya obtains a doctorate from the University of Göttingen, becoming the first woman ever to hold such a degree.
LIFE: Tsar Alexander II’S liberal reforms, including the emancipation of the serfs, lead to the collapse of Musorgsky’s family estate, requiring him to take on low-paid jobs,
TIMES: Nikolai Kasatkin, a Russian priest, lands in Hokkaido, Japan, where he works as an Orthodox missionary. He is later canonised as St Nicholas of Japan.
LIFE: He completes his orchestral work St John’s Night on Bald Mountain, but has his enthusiasm dampened when Balakirev suggests that changes need to be made to it.
TIMES: Believing Alaska to be lacking in natural resources and largely uninhabitable, Russia sells the territory to the United States of America for $7.2m.
LIFE: Shortly after having his portrait painted by Ilya Repin, he dies as a result of alcoholism.
He is buried in St Petersburg’s Alexander Nevsky Cemetery. TIMES: Alexander II is assassinated by members of the People’s Will revolutionary organisation, who throw explosives at the tsar’s carriage.