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Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition. Modest Mussorgsky. 9 original pieces of artwork by Victor Hartmann Mussorgsky, shocked by Hartmann’s death, wrote piano piece as tribute Ravel commissioned by Sergey Koussevitzky to orchestrate Mussorgsky’s piece. Maurice Ravel. Overall Transformations.

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Pictures at an Exhibition

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  1. Pictures at an Exhibition Modest Mussorgsky • 9 original pieces of artwork by Victor Hartmann • Mussorgsky, shocked by Hartmann’s death, wrote piano piece as tribute • Ravel commissioned by Sergey Koussevitzky to orchestrate Mussorgsky’s piece Maurice Ravel

  2. Overall Transformations • From pictures to piano arrangement Hartmann’s ideas are transformed from static to real-time presentation • From piano to orchestra arrangement Hartmann’s ideas are more specifically presented through diverse instrument timbres • With every transformation, the ideas behind Hartmann’s original artwork are reinterpreted with added dimensions

  3. Hartmann’s sketches: Ballet of the Unborn Chicks • Originally commissioned as costume design sketches for 1871 production of the ballet Trillby • Eggshell costumes represent chicks in shells prior to hatching

  4. Mussorgsky’s “Ballet of the Unborn Chicks” • “Scherzino – vivo, leggiero”: jokingly, lightheartedly, alive • Grace notes imply movement, unborn chicks pecking at shell • Trills (right) & quick pulse (left) – unsteadiness, wavering of limbs inside shells • High F grace-note consistently used – chicks cheeping

  5. Ravel’s “Ballet of the Unborn Chicks” • Woodwinds used to vocalize chicks • Bassoon bass to indicate clumsiness of the unborn chicks in shells • Trills given to strings for fluttery sound • Use of glockenspiel, cymbal splashes and triangle for ringy, whimsical effect • Piccolo cheeping sound (high F)

  6. Hartmann’s Pictures of Two Jews • Hartmann visited Jewish ghetto in Sandomir, Poland in 1868 • Rich Jew • Confident • Poor Jew • Hopeless

  7. Mussorgsky’s “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle” • 2 pictures  1 piece examining relationship • Rich Jew speaks first • Low  deep, powerful voice • Two hands in unison  assertive • Slow tempo, pauses for breath  composed • Poor Jew • High, with quick repeated notes  weak, high-pitched whining • Triplet tremolo  teeth chattering, body shaking

  8. Mussorgsky's “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle” • Rich Jew starts talking before poor Jew finishes • Gets more attention • Keeps going after poor Jew stops • Ends with both Jews in unison • Rich Jew sends poor Jew off with nothing

  9. Ravel’s “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle” • Brings out contrast between rich and poor Jew • Rich Jew • Strings (and woodwinds) playing tutti • Poor Jew • 1 muted piccolo trumpet over accompaniment • Ends with two voices in unison, but different timbres

  10. Hartmann’s Hut on Chicken Legs • Pencil sketch design for a clock 14th century Russian style • The clock sits on two hen’s feet. It is the House of Baba Yaga (a fairy-tale motif) • Very ornate with rope-like and textile ornamentation and patterns

  11. The Story of Baba Yaga • Baba Yaga is a witch who lives in a house on chicken feet • She kills and eats little children; crushing their bones in her giant mortar in which she flies around • Both Hartmann and Mussorgsky have an interest in old Russian culture

  12. Mussorgsky's House on Chicken Legs • Music is not very representative of the clock design, other than quarter note = 120, making each measure last exactly one second…like a clock • Music is Mussorgsky's representation of the story of Baba Yaga…her flying in a mortar chasing after little children

  13. Mussorgsky continued • Starts with low rumble in the left hand • Pounding,with a repetitive descending line….like she is circling her prey • Trills and descending chromatic scale…create tension • The tone is angry and frantic, created by a flurry of notes

  14. Ravel’s Hut on Chicken Legs • Pretty loyal to Mussorgsky's version, but with more depth and texture…he has different voices to work with • blaring harsh brass, loud percussion, high flutes add contrast

  15. Hartmann’s The Great Gate of Kiev • Design competition for gate • Commemorate Tsar Alexander II’s escaped assassination • Competition ultimately called off • Hartmann’s design • Archway on granite pillars • Russian state eagle at peak • “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”

  16. Mussorgsky's “The Great Gate of Kiev” • Exposition • Powerful opening processional tune • Repeated several times, emphasis on majesty • Religious undertones • Intertwining of Russian Orthodox Church choir music • “As you are baptized in Christ”

  17. Mussorgsky's “The Great Gate of Kiev” • Recapitulation and close • Introduction of super triplets then regular triplets into piece • Return of open theme superimposed on top of developed religious theme • End with the opening of Gates of Kiev

  18. Ravel’s “The Great Gate of Kiev” • Use of tutti brass in opening to encapsulate grandeur • Contrasted by soft woodwind choir interludes • Orchestral ornamentation • Ending written in 3/2, original in 2/2 • Straight triplets only • Doubling of half notes in end • Representation of church bells • Pulsating, dissonant mass of sound • Restatement on end note for finality

  19. In Conclusion… • There are multiple transformations taking place. The Hartmann pictures – Mussorgsky piano piece – Ravel orchestration • Every time a piece of art is transformed, a new dimension is added.

  20. Transformations • From Pictures to Music-- an element of time • From Piano to Orchestra -- an element of texture and color • Transformations tend to adapt the original work to the conventions of the time…thus transformations help ensure the survival of the original work

  21. Works Referenced • 1. Brown, David. Mussorgsky: His Life and Works. 2002: • University Press, Oxford. • 2. Calvocoresi, M.D. Modest Mussorgsky. 1956: Salisbury Square, London. • 3. Eagen, Tim. Images for Pictures at an Exhibition: • http://www.stmoroky.com/reviews/gallery/pictures/hartmann.htm. Jan. 2000. • 4. Mussorgsky, Modest. Pictures at an Exhibition [piano score]. 1983: Breitkopf & Hartell Wiesbaden. • 5. Mussorgsky, Modest. Pictures at an Exhibition [sound recording]. 1997: Longworth, Peter. • 6. Ravel, Maurice. Pictures at an Exhibition [musical score]. 1929: Boosey & Hawkes, London. • 7. Ravel, Maurice. Pictures at an Exhibition [sound recording]. 1993: New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein. • 8. Russ, Michael. Musorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition. 1992: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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