Performance – Mussorgsky: ‘Promenade’

Inside a gallery

As part of OrchLab Festival Day 2020, we screened a performance of a new arrangement of ‘Promenade’ from Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Mussorgsky (1839–1881) was a prominent Russian composer who was very interested in creating music that had a uniquely ‘Russian’ sound. He had a friend called Viktor Hartmann who was an artist, and Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition inspired by Hartmann’s pictures. The piece was originally written for piano, but is now commonly heard performed by an orchestra in a version arranged by another famous composer, Maurice Ravel.

This special arrangement of ‘Promenade’ from Pictures at an Exhibition is by John Webb, performed by musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

In Mussorgsky’s original full work, he wrote different movements to describe various pictures in an art exhibition. This piece, ‘Promenade’, represents the moments in between the artworks, when the viewer moves around the art gallery.

While you listen to this performance, think about these questions, which you could discuss afterwards:

  • What does this gallery look like? Is it old or modern? Grand or humble?
  • How is the person feeling as they move around the gallery?
  • If you were in an art gallery, what would you be looking at? The other people, the art, the furniture?
  • What kind of art do you like to look at?

Explore more:

If you enjoyed listening to this piece, why not explore more performance videos:

Watch the short film created by OrchLab groups inspired by Pictures at an Exhibition
Performance – Prokofiev: ‘Troika’
Performance – Gustav Holst: ‘Jupiter’
Performance – Beethoven: ‘Eroica’

You can also explore another movement from Pictures at an Exhibition and play along with our audio activity:

Play along – The Great Gate of Kiev