Walter Bitner

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Pictures at an Exhibition

Viktor Hartmann: Plan for a City Gate in Kiev, watercolor, 1869

Viktor Hartmann: Plan for a City Gate in Kiev, watercolor, 1869

Modest Mussorgsky (1839 – 1881) was a Russian composer best known today for a few celebrated works, including Night on Bald Mountain – a musical depiction of a “witches sabbath” most often played on Halloween programs and other programs depicting musical grotesqueries – and Boris Gudunov, an opera based on a drama by Pushkin: the butt of one of the first classical music jokes music majors learn in undergraduate school:

Q: Why did Mussorgsky only write one opera?
A: Because one Boris Gudunov.

His most beloved composition today is Pictures at an Exhibition, which was originally written as a large suite for solo piano but is best known to the listening public as a large-scale symphonic work in its orchestration by the French composer Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937).

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Chris Squire 1948 – 2015

Chris Squire circa 1972 - from Fragile

Chris Squire circa 1972 – from Fragile

Chris Squire, who laid down the bass line for much of the soundtrack of my adolescence, died yesterday of leukemia.  He was 67.

Chris and Jon Anderson founded Yes in 1968.  The band has gone through many permutations in personnel and evolution in style since then, but Chris has always been at the heart of the group.  His unique sound, approach to playing bass, and contribution to crafting the group’s compositions have been an integral part of what makes Yes Yes.  When Billy Sherwood joins the band on stage as bassist at the beginning of their North American Summer Tour in August, it will be the first time that Yes has ever performed without Chris since the band was formed 47 years ago.

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