Tag Archives: Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition at The Brevard Music Center Summer Music Festival


Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, the Brevard Music Center is an out of the way gem. Located down a residential road with houses on either side with signs filled with musical jokes and puns placed in their yards and with parking that was less then optimal, this quasi-outdoor venue is quaint in all the right ways, and definitely made our trip yesterday worthwhile. And it was only by strangest of coincidences I even knew the Brevard Symphony was playing my song…

A good friend of mine was taking his girlfriend to the Asheville area for the weekend and was checking for things to do in the area. Not only was the Brevard Music Center completing their Summer Music Festival, but they were closing it out with — shock of shocks on this particular blog — Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I had already seen a performance in Raleigh earlier in the year, but when you get the chance to hear this particular piece of music live, you go.

My mother and father had never had the opportunity to hear this particular piece of music, at least not live, though my dad was the one who originally turned me on to Scheherazade. I wanted to share with them the inspiration for this book I had written. I called my mom who was, not surprisingly, out mending fences (literally) and invited them to come. My mother retired from teaching this year, so this little road trip was my gift to her for her “School’s Out Forever” party which followed a couple weeks later. It was a great time, not only with them, but with Mark and Lara as well as the de la Torres who just happen to live in Brevard and were gracious enough to have us all over for dinner that evening after the show.

The performance of Pictures was beautiful, as were the two pieces from the first half. An outdoor arena on a particularly hot and muggy made some particular challenges. The guest pianist, a phenomenal musician, left the stage before intermission with his red silk shirt literally stuck to his torso from the sweat. All in all, an excellent day with friends, family, and Mussorgsky. I look forward to visiting the Brevard Music Center again in the future.

Mussorgsky Mondays – Another year…

MI0001141288Today is my 43rd birthday. It’s funny. I neither get terribly excited about birthdays anymore, nor do I bemoan them. I simply recognize them for what they are. A signpost. You have travelled this far, and still have (hopefully) far to go. The last year has been filled with many triumphs and joys, some defeats and tears, but overall the year of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” has treated me well.

To celebrate my birthday, which happened to come on a Mussorgsky Monday this year, I decided to put a little something special on today’s blog. The link below will take you to a one hour presentation on Pictures, both the original piano per Mussorgsky and the orchestral arrangement per Ravel, all told through the lens of the Chicago Symphony and their conductor at the time, Sir Georg Solti. What makes this a real treat, however, is that Solti interrupts on the video with vignettes about each of the movements, effectively breaking down this masterwork into its various components and explaining what makes it work and why we are still listening to it over a hundred years after it was written. His insights into the music are quite enlightening and make this video a great companion piece to my upcoming book, The Mussorgsky Riddle.

Please enjoy Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony as they play Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

All best, Darin

Sir Georg Solti plays, conducts, and explains Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition