Two Paintings – one Picture. Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle

Again we are privileged to be able to view the two paintings which inspired the next piece in Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  They belonged to Mussorgsky; Hartmann himself had presented them to him, and Mussorgsky lent them to the exhibition. The catalogue described them: Two Jews, Rich and Poor, and the understanding is that their nationality was Polish.

Mussorgsky cleverly combines the two in one musical sketch, by at first giving each a different voice heard independently; then he brings them together.



The wealthy gentleman, Samuel Goldenberg, sweeps in at a majestic pace, with augmented seconds adding a spicy touch of the exotic to his imperiously announced theme.



Poverty-stricken Schmuyle’s theme begs and pleads in falling LH phrases, while the RH doubles the melody in a tricky, repeated note ornamentation. And then follows Mussorgsky’s masterstroke as the two characters combine, the LH disdainfully proud, the RH desperately insistent.

Silence descends. Two half-hearted, wheedling requests are abruptly pushed aside; a last attempt is refused with rude finality. And that’s that.



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