Modest Mussorgsky was born in 1839, in the Russian countryside, to a wealthy family.
Growing up, he heard the peasants on the family estate singing folk songs. This inspired his fascination with the rougher, more uncouth side of Russian life.
It’s really what separated Mussorgsky from all the other Russian composers of the time!
He was a hugely talented pianist as a child, but got carted off to a Cadet Academy at 13 (a family tradition). He composed his first piece while at school, a youthful little polka.
At 18 he joined the real military and got posted in an elite regiment, but left two years later after a nervous breakdown.
His family estate was struck by bad fortune soon after. They ended up losing all their farming serfs. Mussorgsky was forced to find work to support himself, and ended up working for the government in menial office job.
With a growing talent for composing, he became part of the group of Russian composersknown as The Five. But he never managed to make a living from his music. He shared a flat with Rimsky-Korsakov for a while, and composed well in the musical environment.
After his mother died in 1865, Modest Mussorgsky turned to alcohol. It was a terrible addiction, but also a way for a young intellectual like him to rebel against the system. He spent his nights in seedy taverns, drowning his future in hard liquor. His decline was slow but steady.
Alcoholics who lived in the 19th century or earlier were unfortunate in the sense that there were practically no alcohol rehab centers (SPONSORED LINK) during their time that could have helped them conquer the disease.
After starting and stopping various opera projects, Mussorgsky finally finished Boris Godunov. He submitted it to the Mariinsky theater, who rejected it. So Mussorgsky edited the opera a fair amount, making it darker and more folk-like.
Eventually premiered in 1874 (5 years after he finished the first version), it was a public hit, and put Mussorgsky on Russia’s musical map.
But it wasn’t enough! His drinking and depression stopped him from making the most of his success, and interfered hugely with his composing. His fame never really spread which forced him to stay stuck in his job. He also battled with epilepsy on and off.
His alcoholism grew worse towards the end of his life, spurred on by the death of several close friends and the growing apart of the Mighty Five.
The government fired him twice. He would disappear for weeks on drinking binges, and then turn up raving drunk on his friends’ doorsteps asking for a bed.
He ended up in a hospital institution. He appeared to get better for a little while, but everyone’s hopes were dashed when he lapsed even further.
One of the most shocking and touching anecdotes from this late period is that Mussorgsky, wild-eyed, declared to a friend “there is nothing left but begging”, and then collapsed and had four seizures in a row.
The last portrait of the composer, painted a few days before his death, shows an unfocused, red-nosed, broken man.
He died at age 42, a tragic loss for music.
Modest Mussorgsky’s music is uniquely Russian. But it’s the Russia of wretched peasants, folk tunes, and unearthly legends. He wanted his music to express the “Russian soul”, and be written in a Russian style.
So his music is appropriately raw and crude-sounding, influenced by peasant dances and bleak winters.
Still, its beauty and genius is impossible to deny. Mussorgsky never even had proper music training – he learned how to compose by just going at it!
He also rejected the traditional Western European musical structures, instead using whichever form for the music fitted what he wanted to express.
His music didn’t become famous until a couple of years after he died, since he left a lot of his greatest work unfinished.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov polished Mussorgsky’s pieces up to ‘performance standard’, eliminating what he saw as his mistakes. He then published them, boosting Mussorgsky’s fame.
Although loads of people, including me, now prefer Mussorgsky’s forcefully bare originals!
Mussorgksy’s songs are really the true core of his output. They have an intimate power and a kind of unique sadness. There’s a powerful complete 5-CD set of them all sung by Boris Christoff which I highly recommend.
Modest Mussorgsky’s most famous pieces are…
- Boris Godunov, the famous opera. It’s the story of a Russian tsar. It’s considered the grand jewel of Russian opera, and Mussorgsky’s masterpiece.
- A Night on Bald Mountain. A blistering orchestral piece, with a terror-inducing otherwordliness. It depicts an evil witches’ ceremony on a bleak mountaintop, conjuring up the devil.
- Pictures at an Exhibition, a delightful suite of piano pieces depicting a walk through a gallery (later lushly orchestrated by Maurice Ravel)
- The song suites Songs and Dances of Death (for orchestra and voice) and Sunless(piano and voice). These are disturbingly bleak songs, reflecting Mussorgsky’s inner world of depression.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ROCK ARTIST ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF CLASSICAL ALBUM
Derek “D-day” Kendall’s New Album, Opus 59; The Razumovsky Files is a Fresh Approach to Beethoven’s String Quartets
Phoenix, Arizona, April 17, 2017– GOLIATH RECORDS-It is always a welcome event when the pioneering spirit explores and conquers uncharted territory. It’s the thing legends are made of. Derek “D-day” Kendall and his new album is no exception. Opus 59; The Razumovsky Files is a departure from the “standard” arrangement and performance of Beethoven’s middle period string quartets.
D-day performs all four parts of what is normally an arrangement for 2 violins a viola and cello, on concert acoustic guitar.
“With the exception of some of the violin passages that play above the high C on guitar, my arrangements are true to form,” the veteran guitarist remarked. “The pieces transpose to guitar seamlessly, and voice very well when performed.”
D-day, not only performs all of the parts of the entirety of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Opus 59 string quartets, he has also brought, as producer, a uniquely modern flavor to the individual parts, as well.
“When Ludwig Van wrote these works for Count Andreas Razumovsky, music had just evolved greatly for composers with the introduction of new keyboard mechanics and the piano, where before, unless you had an entire ensemble at your constant beckon call, composing was done the ‘old fashioned way’, in your head.
The advent of the keyboard meant composers could play out all of the various parts together, kind of like olden day real time. And, I feel that if Beethoven were here today, he would take advantage of modern recording techniques, as well.”
When asked to elaborate, D-day points out that he produced each of the parts with the tone and timbre fitting each part’s range and voice, and different effects were used for various passages to enhance the guitar’s characteristic with respect to the instruments of that time period.
“There are, for instance, a couple of places where I added a voice or two of chorus, as well as adjusting the equalization to the guitar in order to achieve a harpsichord-like quality. The Idea was to utilize the entire aural spectrum in the foundation of my arrangement while observing due respect to Beethoven’s woven fabric of violin, viola, and cello, so I dare not have the same guitar tone for all of the parts all of the time.”
Opus 59; The Razumovsky Files will be available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon, Rhapsody, Deezer and Tidal or you can download the 2-disc release and burn physical CD’s along with the album art formatted for double CD cases; disc labels, tray cards and inserts on the official D-day website at ddaykendall.com.
About Derek “D-day” Kendall:
Tempered in the fires of the 80’s music scene, when even seasoned oil executives bowed to the mighty record executive, Derek “D-day” Kendall brings over 36 years in the music business to the table.
More than just an accomplished singer/songwriter, producer, and composer, he is an experienced performer and entertainer with proficiencies on guitar, drums & percussion, trombone, cello, keyboards, bass guitar as well as being one of the strongest and most dynamic voices ever to hit the stage.
He is a well-rounded studio musician with an unparalleled history of playing with musicians that other musicians would give body parts to play with, playing with the likes of Pat Travers, Pat Thrall, Rob Halford, Paul Gilbert, Eric Singer, Kuni, Scott Travis, Mick Brown, Mick Sweda, Fred Coury, Vinnie Moore, Beast and Greg Chaisson, to name only a few.
D-day’s experience is as diverse as it is dynamic.
He has been the lead trombone in a multiple award winning big band on the east coast as well as the drummer in the Led Zeppelin impersonation act, “Zeppeland.”
He is recognized as one of the world’s premiere singers and front men touring and performing with the east coast’s super-metal band Hooker, Milwaukee/Minneapolis’ Lillian-X, Phoenix’s Surgical Steel, the FUX, Ragdoll and D-day. He has been romanced by industry heavy-hitters and even usurped Graham Bonnet’s throne in PolyGram Records, Inc. (Japan) Kuni.
He has, literally, done it all from performing around the world to touring as a national act to session work, playing everything from Black Sabbath to Duke Ellington and Sammy Nestico to Mahler.
Even before receiving his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Western University, where he graduated summa cum laude, D-day had written and recorded songs that were ‘Pick Of The Week’ 2 weeks in a row on the national Z-rock (KZRX) radio network and had every song from a recent demo market run hit the Top 10 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal charts in all age group demographics and remained there well beyond the 6 month run.
He was also voted Best Male Vocalist for his songs, ”When You’re In Love” and “Stay With Me” along with having them both grace the Top 10 Arizona list.
“I love to perform and entertain folks. Having the ability and then the opportunity to bring, even a little, enjoyment to people is a privilege as much as it is a responsibility of moral imperative scope, be it one person or one thousand.”
“As a child, I was introduced to music and performance very early from my Mother, who is a phenomenal singer and actress,” he boasts. “I come from a large family unit,” he continues shaking his head incredulously, “2 Moms, 2 Dads, 3 brothers, 4 sisters, 8 grandparents and over-achievers every one.”
He continues,“ My mom,” then, as if to clarify, ”My Mom-mom, I remember, would practice parts for her many off-Broadway musical leads at home before rehearsal, thus, planting the seed in me. She eventually got her Master’s Degree in Music from the Royal Academy of Music in London.
My father is a retired, like, 50-year career NASA engineer, straight out of college until retirement. My other father is an actor / Director with a PhD in Theater Arts, my other mom is a career educator and superintendant of schools, one in a line of educators. My older sister is a career educator as well as my nephew (her son), my older brother is a retired Air Force Brigadier General with a dizzying list of achievements including being one of the NATO appointed commanders at Kandahar, Afghanistan and hugely-decorated F-15 pilot who, for a time, was our countries F-15 demonstration pilot, I also have a brother who oversees the hospitality centers in Colonial Williamsburg and another brother who is a Naval Officer/Radiologist stationed in Guam. My beautiful younger sisters, not only carry degrees from the finest Universities Virginia and North Carolina have to offer, but careers and families as well. And the credit list doesn’t stop there…but I will.”
So, maybe it is no surprise of circumstance that, in 1982, while a student at ACS, Athens, Greece, this devoted young musician possessing a level of discipline not often found in players even three times his age, that discipline and circumstance, both, found him conducting the International Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in Athens, Greece……..at the age of 19.
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Derek “D-day” Kendall Plans to Release 3rd Album in 3rd Genre in Same Year
An album a year is not considered an uncommon thing for an artist. But, to put out three albums in a year is something out of the ordinary, indeed. And to release them in three different genres deserves a double take, to say the least.
Recording artist, D-day has announced plans to release a third album in 2017. The release is to be of his primary musical genre, a thing, of itself, that is not easy to pin down.
Currently, D-day’s music can be found on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc., in the categories of Hard Rock / Heavy Metal, Classical, World, and Holiday, but when asked, D-day will state his primary style as “Molten Metal”.
“ First off,” exclaims the 54 year old rocker,”I consider Heavy Metal to be a style that was coined for the music of Led Zeppelin, whose albums were a diverse mixture of genres, all having the signature Zep sound. From one track to the next would be, like, a fully orchestrated gothic ballad and the next track would be psycho-billy and then the next would be the hardest driving rocker. like the Immigrant Song or Heartbreaker. That is what I consider Heavy Metal.”
D-day: “Rainbow, Dio, Sabbath, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Iron Maiden..Heavy Metal in its purest form. Molten Metal is just that. It is a melting pot of styles, all having a signature sound. In this case, mine.”
Reportedly, that is what can be expected from his next release slated for the fall of 2017.