MUSORGSKY

Life &Times

BBC Music Magazine - - Composer Of The Month -

1839

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.

1857

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.

1874

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.

1861

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.

1867

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.

1881

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.

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