Pictures at an Exhibition, original version for piano

The famous piano suite PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION was composed by MODEST MUSSORGSKY in memory of his friend Viktor Hartmann (1834-1873), painter and architect, one of the founders of the “Russian style” in architecture. In the spring of 1874, an exhibition of some 400 works by Hartmann, who died suddenly at the age of only 39, was organized at the Imperial Academy of Arts on the initiative of the critic Vladimir Stasov. Following his visit, Mussorgsky was inspired to write his piano cycle in just three weeks, between 2 and 22 June 1874, subtitled “Reminiscences of Viktor Hartmann” and dedicated to V. Stasov. But the work remained unrecognized for a long time. The first edition was not published until 1886, five years after Mussorgsky’s death, when an edition by Rimsky-Korsakov was published. It did not arouse the interest of pianists, who considered it insufficiently concert virtuosic and ‘unpianistic’. A little later, in 1891, appeared the first orchestration by M. Tushmalov of some of the movements, again with participation of Rimsky-Korsakov.

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