Today we mark nearly seventy years since the passing of Serge Koussevitzky, one of the most influential artists of the early 20th century. He was a prominent music publisher, double bass soloist, and for 25 years the Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During his tenure, he developed the acclaimed summer home of the BSO, Tanglewood, and he’s also responsible for the commission of numerous works that have shaped concert programs around the world.
Among those commissions is the nearly ubiquitous orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition by French composer Maurice Ravel. While Ravel’s 1922 arrangement is wildly popular, Michael Christie explains why he favors the 1954 arrangement by Sergei Gorchakov.
Below, listen to the different versions side-by-side: the original work for piano, the acclaimed Ravel orchestration, and the Gorchakov version that will be performed by the New West Symphony in its 2020/2021 season!
Modest Mussorgsky’s original piano suite (1874)
Gorchavok orchestration (1954)
Ravel orchestration (1922)