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Classical Kids Music Lessons: Museum Field Trip! (Part 3)

People walking around a room of artwork in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom Amy-Leigh Barnard/Unsplash

LISTEN Audio Instructions

Need ideas for easy and fun at-home music learning? Here's our daily Classical Kids Music Lesson.

Today we will listen to Pictures at an Exhibition, a piece of music that was inspired by paintings at an art exhibition.

Target age range: all ages, with support for younger learners

1. Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky (Moo-SORG-skee) was good friends with the painter Viktor Hartmann. Hartmann had a special exhibition of several of his paintings, and Mussorgsky composed a piece of music inspired by many of those works. Mussorgsky's piece is called Pictures at an Exhibition. It has several movements, or sections. Each movement is supposed to represent a different painting in Hoffman's exhibition. In between several of the movements, you will hear promenade music, which means music for walking. Put together, the promenade music and the music for each painting re-creates the experience of walking through an art exhibit.

2. It's time to visit Hartmann's exhibition through listening. There are ten paintings in this art exhibit. Have ten pieces of paper ready to go. Listen to each piece, and draw what you think the painting might have looked like. You will get a chance to stretch your legs and do a little walking during the promenade.

3. PROMENADE
The very first thing we hear is some of that "walking" music. Press play and stroll along to the slow steady beat. Imagine you are walking into a beautiful art museum.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

4. GNOMUS
Here is the first "painting" in the Exhibition - it's a gnome! Draw or paint your own gnome picture while you listen. A few things to notice:

Cymbal crashes
• A melody that scurries around and starts and stops
• Snare drum
Xylophone

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: I. Gnomus
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

5. PROMENADE
Time to get up and walk again!

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

6. THE OLD CASTLE
Mussorgsky's composition was originally written for the piano. Over time, several other composers orchestrated the work, or turned it into a piece for instruments of the orchestra. The most famous version for orchestra was created by the composer Maurice Ravel. In the Old Castle, Ravel decided to give an important part of the melody to the saxophone, which was not commonly used in the orchestra at that time.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: II. Old Castle
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

7. PROMENADE
Walk to the next painting!

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

8. TUILERIES
Tuileries is the name of a garden near a famous art museum called the Louvre, in Paris, France. Hartmann's painting showed children playing in the garden. Notice this short movement follows an ABA pattern.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: III. Tuileries
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

9. BYDLO
This painting was of a large, slow-moving ox cart. Dynamics are very important in this movement. The composer uses dynamics to signal the location of the ox cart. As you listen, try to determine how close (or how far) you are from the ox cart.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: IV. Bydlo
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

10. PROMENADE
Short walking break!

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

11. BALLET OF THE UNHATCHED CHICKS
Ravel choses the colors (or timbres) of the woodwind and string families (with a little percussion tossed in) to conjure up the image of a bunch of unhatched chicks dancing around.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: V. Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

12. SAMUEL GOLDEERG AND SCHMUYLE
This piece is based on two portraits of two different men. Notice two different melodies, or themes - one to depict each man.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: VI. Samuel Goldberg and Schmuyle
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

13. MARKETPLACE AT LIMOGES
The music is fast and bustling, just like a busy marketplace.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: VII. Marketplace at Limoges
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

14. CATACOMBS
Catacombs are underground burial sites, or cemeteries. Paris has very famous catacombs. Hartmann's painting depicted the dark, gloomy catacombs of Paris. If you listen very closely, you might hear a tam-tam at the very end.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: VIII. Catacombs
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

15. HUT ON FOWL'S LEGS (BABA YAGA)
"Baba Yaga" is a witch-like character from Russian folk tales. Legend has it that she lived in a hut that perched on hen's legs. Like so many of the other movements, this one follows that ABA pattern.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: IX. Hut on Fowl's Legs (Baba Yaga)
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

16. THE GREAT GATE OF KIEV
The Great Gate of Kiev was a sketch for a monument that was never built. The gates in the sketch depict scenes of heroic adventure. You might notice that the melody in this movement has a lot in common with the melody in the promenade, or walking music we heard through our stroll through the art exhibition.

LISTEN Pictures at an Exhibition: X. The Great Gate of Kiev
Modest Mussorgsky
Oleg Marshev, piano; Odense Symphony Orchestra; Jan Wagner, conductor

17. Display your ten paintings someplace and walk through the exhibition, thinking of the sounds you heard while listening.

Have a question or suggestion? Contact Katie Condon, music education specialist.

More: View all of our daily Classical Kids Music Lessons

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