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Thursday, 24 September 2020, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Online Lecture

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Musorgsky

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker FBA, Peter Donohoe CBE

Musorgsky was a proficient, but not virtuosic pianist: in his youth, he entertained society ladies with popular marches and quadrilles, and in his last years, he toured as an accompanist in song recitals. On the basis of these modest exploits, no one could have predicted his Pictures at an Exhibition. This cycle of piano pieces is a kind of travelogue, following a Russian at home and abroad. We tour around the Russian Empire and beyond, and we are also invited to contemplate the drawings of Musorgsky’s friend Victor Hartmann (the work stands as a touching memorial to his art). 

Drawing inspiration from the Romanticism of Schumann and Liszt, Musorgsky filtered their ideas through his own Russian Realist aesthetic, and attempted to create accurate and convincing depictions of his subjects, with their distinctive voices, behaviour and locations. His piano writing is idiosyncratic, and sometimes even awkward, but it conveys his thoughts effectively in a riot of colour and contrasts. His instinctive, empirical approach to harmony was a formative influence for Debussy, the first of the great post-Romantic piano composers.


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Marina Frolova-Walker is Gresham Professor of Music. She is a Russian-born British musicologist and music historian. She is Professor of Music History and Director of Studies in Music at Clare College, Cambridge. 

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker is a specialist in the Russian music of the 19th and 20th centuries. She has published extensively on Russian music and is a well-known lecturer and broadcaster for BBC Radio 3. Among her many awards and appointments, she is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded the Edward Dent Medal in 2015 by the Royal Musical Association for her achievements in musicology. 

She was appointed as Visiting Gresham Professor of Russian Music in 2018-19. 

You can find more information on Marina and her research interests here: https://www.marinafrolova-walker.com/

Professor Frolova-Walker's lecture series are as follows:

2020/21 Russian Piano Masterpieces

2019/20 Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

2018/19 Russian Opera and the State

All lectures by the Gresham Professors of Music can be accessed here.

Current Gresham Professor of Music

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Peter Donohoe CBE is one of Britain’s foremost pianists, whose international career was launched by his success at the 1982 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Since then, he has performed at the world’s major venues, including the Hollywood Bowl, the Sydney Opera House and the Teatro Colón, collaborating with conductors such as Simon Rattle, Yevgeni Svetlanov and Gustavo Dudamel, and he has appeared at the BBC Proms a remarkable twenty-two times. 

In the course of his forty-year career, Russian music has always been at the core of his huge repertoire. His highly acclaimed recordings include all the Tchaikovsky concertos, all the Scriabin sonatas, all the Rachmaninov preludes, all the Prokofiev sonatas, Stravinsky’s music for piano solo and with orchestra, and all the Shostakovich sonatas, concertos and preludes and fugues.

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