Mussorgsky Mondays – Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”


The year was 1994, and though a big fan of progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, I had never heard their version of Pictures at an Exhibition, or any version for that matter. I was Mussorgsky naive, but that all changed with their ninth–and unfortunately, final–studio album, In The Hot Seat. Ten tracks of music the likes of which they don’t make anymore, and one bonus track from their 4-disc set, The Return of the Manticore. This bonus track was their 1994 version of their 1971 work, a prog rock version Pictures at an Exhibition, and marked the first time I ever heard the “Promenade” melody, the strange tune of “The Gnome,” Greg Lake’s haunting lyrics on “The Sage,” the cavorting sounds of “Baba Yaga’s Hut,” and the triumphant ending of “The Gates of Kiev.” It was life changing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to that album, but that led to hearing the original 1971 recording, which led to seeing the Columbus Orchestra in Georgia play the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky’s piece, which led to me purchasing multiple CD’s of the work and listening till I knew every note. My love for this particular piece of music eventually led to the novel which awaits release later this year from Curiosity Quills.

In a way, this is the answer to my own particular Mussorgsky Riddle: Why write such a book? 😉

And it all began with the last track of the last studio album of one of the greatest progressive rock bands in history.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Emerson, Lake & Palmer. (The link only includes the first two movements of the song, but you’ll get the feel for what I’m talking about. If you find the full thing on YouTube, let me know and I’ll update the link.)

About Darin Kennedy

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