Musorgsky, Modest Petrovich (opera)
- Richard Taruskin
(b Karevo, nr Velikiye Luki, Pskov district, 9/March 21, 1839; d St Petersburg, March 16/28, 1881). Russian composer. Despite his brief career, weak training and failure to complete most of his works, he is regarded by many as the most talented and (posthumously) influential composer of the Russian national school.
Like most Russian composers of his generation, Musorgsky was born to the leisure class. Following family tradition, he was groomed for a military officer’s career. He spent his first decade on his ancestral estate, where from the age of six he was taught the piano by his mother. Within three years he was able to perform a concerto by John Field at a concert arranged by his parents at home. On being sent in 1849 to the élite Peter and Paul School in St Petersburg, Musorgsky continued his piano studies with Anton Herke, a locally celebrated former pupil of Adolf Henselt. He stayed with Herke until ...