Herbert von Karajan conducts Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition

Berliner Philharmoniker

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Program notes

Experience Mussorgsky’s celebrated Pictures at an Exhibition conducted by the exceptional Herbert von Karajan leading the Berliner Philharmoniker. This world-famous work was born of sad circumstances: in 1873, the composer’s friend, the painter Victor Hartmann, died suddenly from an aneurysm at 39 years old. Shocked, Mussorgsky organized an exhibition of Hartmann’s works at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. While the visitors viewed the artwork, the idea came to Mussorgsky to celebrate his friend in music: “sounds and ideas hung in the air, I am gulping and overeating, and can barely manage to scribble them on paper.” Composed in just a few weeks, the piece (originally for piano) would be arranged and transcribed many times before Maurice Ravel’s 1922 orchestration, which is today the most popular.


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