jane's blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Modest Mussorgsky's Reflections

The ingredients and process of great artists do not always follow the "textbook format," and Modest Mussorgsky, who occupies a place in my upcoming anthology, soon to be published by Oxford University Press, is a prime example of this.
With an erratic musical education, Mussorgsky worked as a civil servant and wrote music only part-time, only minimally, if at all, influencing his contemporaries. His early death, due to alcoholism, left a small body of work. Yet, Modest Mussorgsky was a towering figure in nineteenth century Russian music. His toils with personal trials and tribulations were eventually somewhat relieved when he joined a choir and discovered Russian church music, leaving a profound imprint on his attitude toward his own later work:
"Art is a means of communicating with people, and not an aim in itself. This guiding principle has defined the whole of my creative activity." Modest Mussorgsky
Proceeding from the conviction that human speech is strictly controlled by musical laws, Mussorgsky considered the function of art to be the reproduction of musical sounds not merely of feelings, and this applied, first and foremost, to his feeling about human speech.
I find Mussorgsky's reflections interestingly individual and profound.

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