Pictures at an Exhibition
Modest Mussorgsky


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This Russian masterpiece climbs seven places

For composers, the death of a close friend or family member tends to have one of two effects: they either retreat into their own world, devoid of inspiration and unable to compose, or this life experience results in a creative surge forwards. In the case of Mussorgsky, the latter was true.

The Russian composer was good friends with a painter called Vladimir Hartmann. Tragically, Hartmann died at the peak of his career, aged just thirty-nine, and the loss of not just a close friend but an artistic inspiration had a deep effect on Mussorgsky. By way of a tribute to Hartmann, he decided to compose his set of piano pieces, Pictures at an Exhibition, inspired by an exhibition of the artist's work, which Mussorgsky had visited after his friend's death.