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March 21, 1839 – March 28, 1881
Born in Russia
Modest Mussorgsky was born in the Russian village of Karevo. His mother gave him his first piano lessons, and it was clear early on that Mussorgsky was a very good pianist.
Modest went to military boarding school, and when he graduated, he joined the army as an officer. Then, Mussorgsky started studying music with Russian composer Mily Balakirev, and left the army to become a composer. He was part of a group of five Russian composers known as “The Five,” or the “Mighty Handful.”
But Mussorgsky had a hard time making a living as a composer, especially after his family lost all its money. So he got a government job, and continued to spend all his spare time composing.
In addition to his instrumental music, Mussorgsky wrote songs, and several operas. His operatic masterpiece is “Boris Godunov,” about a Russian Tsar who lived in the 1500’s.