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  • Writer's pictureCarter Willmann

Pictures at an Exhibition

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

Good morning students!

Today I'd like to offer up a small movement entitled "Il Vecchio Castello" or "The Old Castle" in English from Modest Mussorgsky's suite "Picture at an Exhibition." The work was inspired by the paintings of Viktor Hartmann, a long time friend of Mussorgsky's. It is one of the few pieces of orchestral music featuring the saxophone! I do not understand why the saxophone hasn't been included more in the orchestral world especially in the 20th and 21st century! The saxophone has a wonderfully diverse sound that blends well with any standard orchestra woodwind section in my opinion! The rest of the woodwind section has prominent roles as well!

Movement 2 - The Old Castle

I wanted to find the painting which inspired "Il Vecchio Castello" but unfortunately musicologists have been unable to find the painting associated with the movement. Here's two other movements however which have surviving pieces of art attached to them! Look at the art for a while then listen to the movement that accompanies it! The transfer from one art medium to another is always fascinating to me! The first one is movement 5 "Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks" which is a short and also woodwind dominant movement! The last video is the grand finale last movement to the work featuring the entire orchestra entitled "The Great Gate of Kiev." I encourage you all to listen to the full work! Each movement is interesting in its own right!

Movement 5 - Ballet of the Unhatched Chickens

Movement 10 - The Great Gate of Kiev

This video includes the movement before "The Great Gate of Kiev" movement. The movement before runs straight into the last with a sudden triumphant brass chorus! Very powerful! See if you can figure out where the last movement starts! Enjoy!

See you all online soon!

Carter W.

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