Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A wonderful, classical birthday, Pt. 1 ...

Not one, but TWO wonderful composers of classical music were born on this day - a century apart, and on opposite sides of the world, yet still sharing a creative spirit that brought new ideas and themes into the concert halls ... where they still resonate to this day.

Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky was born on this day in 1839, while American composer Samuel Barber was born on this day in 1910.

Mussorgsky's works gave new, lyrical voice to Russian history and Russian folktales, as well as contemporary expressions of Russian culture at the time. Ironically, this put him at odds with the Russian royal court, which preferred a more traditonal and less innovative, European-themed approach to classical music. But what Moscow's inner circle dismissed at that time, the world has acknowledged and embraced over the ensuing years ... creating a legacy that Mussorgsky never even imagined when he died an untimely and debilitated death shortly after his 42nd birthday. That death left a number of his works in various states of completion or format ... some of the orchestral works of his, that are a popular part of today's classical music canon, are actually transcriptions prepared by Mussorgsky's friends, or by later advocates for his music.

'The Bogatyr Gates' movement from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" has become a staple for film, television and commercial productions. One of my favorites, though, is the transcription of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain ... like millions of others, I was introduced to Mussorgsky cortesy of Walt Disney, Leoplod Stokowsky and the animated film "Fantasia" ... coupled with "Ave Maria" in the video below (from sadisticmind87 at YouTube

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