Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839 – 1881) was born in Karevo, Russia into a wealthy family. He began receiving piano lessons from his mother as a six-year old. He made rapid progress, and four years later studied in Saint Petersburg. At 13, he became a cadet in preparation for military service (a family tradition), but he managed to continue studying music. In 1858 Mussorgsky resigned his commission to devote himself to music, but later became a civil servant – a career which was frustrated by his alcoholism. It is said that many of his works were completed by other composers.

Pictures at an Exhibition
Pictures at an Exhibition is a set of piano pieces written in 1874 to commemorate an exhibition of the work of the artist Victor Hartmann. The exhibits are linked by a promenade - which is a repeating theme - and includes representations of e.g. kids playing, women gossiping, catacombs, a singer, unborn chicks, a witches hut and the Great Gate of Kiev.
Pictures at an Exhibition was completed for piano in 1874 – probably the best orchestral version was subsequently arranged by French composer Maurice Ravel.

Night on a Bare Mountain
Night on a Bare Mountain was composed in 1867 but, although he revisited it a number of times, it was never performed in his lifetime. Indeed, the version we are familiar with was arranged by his friend Rimsky-Korsakov and premiered in 1886. The story line is basically that of a witches sabbath.