Modest Mussorgsky, 1839-1881
Pictures at an Exhibition (A Remembrance of Viktor Hartmann), 1874
Modest Mussorgsky is one of the most elusive composers in history. A brief citation from the beginning of his biography in Grove Music is a perfect summary:
His life was disjointed, ending in loneliness and poverty, and at the time of his death some of his most important compositions were left unfinished. His greatest achievements were as a composer of operas and solo songs. Largely self-taught and highly intellectual, he discovered a way of writing for the voice that was both lyrical and true to the inflections of speech. He was the most strikingly individual Russian composer of the later 19th century and an avatar of modernism for the generation of Debussy and Ravel.