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Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (March 9, 1839 – March 16, 1881) was a Russian composer, one of the group known as "The Five". He was an innovator of Russian music in the Romantic period. He strove to achieve a uniquely Russian musical identity, often in deliberate defiance of the established conventions of Western music.
Mussorgsky was born in Karevo, Russia, the son of a landowner. He showed an early aptitude for music and began studying the piano at the age of eight. In 1852, he entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied composition with Alexander Dargomyzhsky. However, he was expelled from the conservatory in 1856 after failing his exams.
After leaving the conservatory, Mussorgsky continued to study music on his own. He also began to compose, and his early works were influenced by the music of Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt. In the late 1850s, he met other young composers who shared his interest in Russian folk music, and they formed a group called "The Five". The other members of "The Five" were Mily Balakirev, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, César Cui, and Alexander Borodin.
Mussorgsky's most famous work is the opera Boris Godunov, which was first performed in 1874. The opera is based on the life of Boris Godunov, who was the Tsar of Russia from 1598 to 1605. Boris Godunov is considered to be one of the greatest operas ever written.
Mussorgsky also composed a number of other works, including the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition, the orchestral tone poem Night on Bald Mountain, and the song cycle Songs and Dances of Death.
Mussorgsky died of alcoholism in 1881 at the age of 42. His music was not widely appreciated during his lifetime, but it has since been recognized as some of the most important and influential music of the Romantic period.