Modest Mussorgskij (1839–1881)

Modest Mussorgsky was born in 1839 on his parents' estate near Pskov, where he came into contact with peasant folk music at an early age and also obtained his first piano lessons.

He later took up a military career, which he ultimately gave up in favor of music in 1858. As with the other members of the Mighty Handful around Balakirev, opera and vocal music were also central to his uvre, even if he created one of the most important Russian piano works of the 19th century: the Pictures at an Exhibition. He was also a very good song accompanist. Certain traits found in his melodies, which follow the declamation of normal speech, also recur in his purely instrumental works. Beginning in 1863, financial troubles forced Mussorgsky to accept an administrative post which he disliked. The stress resulting from this double activity most likely undermined his health and perhaps contributed to his early death at the age of 42.