Spotlight On: Tuileries

Stasov’s comment:  “An avenue in the garden of the Tuileries, with a swarm of children and nurses”

Hartmann’s picture of the “Jardin des Tuileries” near the Louvre is now, regrettably, lost.  As was Harmann’s practice, the children were probably added to help convey scale.  The picture above was painted by Manet in 1862 and is thought to convey the sense of motion and scale that Hartmann’s original conveyed.

Spotlight On: Il Vecchio Castello

Literally, "The Old Castle", this vignette depicts a medival castle - in front of which a troubadour plays a song, probably on a lute.  It was originally written in the unusual key of G# minor, not often seen outside of keyboard music and in use as an aid to modulation.  Given that Pictures was originally a piano composition, however, these keyboard-centric keys are to be expected.

Spotlight On: Gnomus

Derived from the Latin "Gnomus", this movement of Pictures is in the key of E-flat minor.  This key is rarely used in orchestral music, other than to modulate.  However, it is used in keyboard music - most popularly in Russian pieces.  Mahler wrote the indroduction to his 8th Symphony in E-flat minor, and Yngwie Malmstein wrote a number of pieces in this key.  It's an unusual and somewhat off-putting key, to be sure.

Composer Spotlight: Mussorgsky

Modest Mussorgsky, 1881

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, of the group known as "The Five" (Balakirev, Cui, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin), five prominent 19th-century Russian composers, who worked together to create a distinctly Russian classical music.  He was well known for his defiance of the conventions of classically "Western" music.  He drew upon Russian history and folklore, as well as nationalist themes, as inspiration for his compositions.  Prominent among his works are Boris Godunov, Night on Bald Mountain, and Pictures at an Exhibition.