This is not only the first life-and-works on Musorgsky in English for over half a century but also the largest such study of the composer ever to have appeared outside Russia. Mussorgsky was one of the towering figures of nineteenth century Russian music - but also one of the most tragic. Largely an amateur with no systematic training in composition, he nevertheless emerged in his first opera, Boris Godunov, as a supreme musical dramatist, presenting here (and in certain of his piano pieces in Pictures at an Exhibition) some of the most startlingly original of all song composers, with a prodigious gift for uncovering the emotional content of a text. His failure to complete his two remaining operas, Khovanshchina and Sorochintsy Fair, before his premature death from alcohol poisoning is one of music's greatest tragedies.
David Brown, now retired, was Professor of Musicology at the University of Southampton. The editor of the New Grove Russian Masters series, he is the author of two major biographies of Russian composers, Mikhail Glinka and Tchaikovsky.