Petrovitch Mussorgsky was born in Karevo,
in 1839, of an aristocratic family. He played a piano concerto by
Field in front of an audience when he was only 9 years old. (John Field was
an Irish-born composer who had settled in Moscow). He went to St Petersburg,
where he became an officer in the army, but left 6 years later to dedicate
himself to composition.
He became one of a group of five friends, all
composers, who helped and encouraged each other. These were Cui,
Borodin, and Balakirev, and together
they founded the Russian Nationalist school. Famous works by him include Night
on the Bare Mountain, the Opera Boris Godunov, and a suite
of piano pieces called Pictures at an Exhibition. This suite was
orchestrated by Ravel later, and it is most often heard in this form today.
later years Mussorgsky became poor, relied on a circle of drinking companions
for food and housing, and started drinking heavily himself, becoming an
alcoholic. He died in 1881 as a result of his alcoholism.