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Musical Journey: Russia, Ukraine & Uzbekistan
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The Places: Peter the Great founded St Petersburg in 1703 on Swedish territory, a provocation to Sweden, then the most powerful state in the region. Over a few years, he created a new city with an outlet to the Baltic, a city to challenge Moscow and force Russia to face Western Europe. Victory over the Swedes at Poltava in 1709 secured the city's future. The tour takes in Odessa, in the Ukraine, an important naval base for Russia on the Black Sea, and concludes with a visit to Uzbekistan. The Music: Mussorgsky was originally an army officer, ending his life in intermittent government service, as addiction to alcohol took its toll. At his death in 1881, at the age of 42, he left much unfinished. His Pictures at an Exhibition was written in 1874 as a set of piano pieces, a translation into music of paintings, designs, models and drawings by his friend Victor Hartmann, who had died the year before, heard here in the colourful orchestration by Ravel. Borodin had a successful career as an analytical chemist, a professor at the Medico- Surgical Academy. His activities as a scientist limited the attention he could give to music, so that a number of his compositions remained incomplete at his relatively early death at the age of 53 in 1887.
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