Classical Music in Pictures Music in Pictures    

Lesson 1: Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade

by Modest Mussorgsky

Performer: Skidmore College Orchestra

    Classical Music in Pictures Music in Pictures    

Lesson 1: Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade

by Modest Mussorgsky

Performer: Skidmore College Orchestra


Study the musical selection for one week.

Over the week:

  • Each day, listen to the musical selection.
  • Read the synopsis.
  • Review the vocabulary terms.
  • Read about the composer and practice reciting his or her name and the composition title.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.


Modest Mussorgsky wrote 'Pictures at an Exhibition' in memory of his friend, Viktor Hartmann, who like Mussorgsky, died young at the age of 39. Each movement within the suite represents one of Hartmann's pictures. Mussorgsky used music to represent himself wandering the halls of a museum and stopping to look Hartman's pictures of gnomes, gardens, and markets. One meaning of 'promenade' is to take a leisurely walk, just as Mussorgsky envisioned himself doing in a museum during his 'Promenade' movement. Listen to the stately, soaring music, and imagine yourself entering a museum of high ceilings and graceful arches and gilded frames, as is pictured in 'Louis-Philippe Opening the Galerie des Batailles' by Fran├žois Joseph Heim. What will you look at first? How about a painting of a gnome?


Promenade: To take a leisurely walk.
Museum: A building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and shown.
Exhibition: A public display of works of art or other items of interest, often held in an art gallery or museum.
Suite: A set of movements or musical pieces meant to be played in a specific order.
Movement: A smaller part of a longer suite or musical work with its own key, tempo, and structure.


  1. Modest Mussorgsky was born in 1839 in Toropets, Russia. See his picture below.
  2. Zoom in and find Mussorgsky's country of birth on the map of Europe below.
  3. Mussorgsky's mother was a pianist, and she taught him piano starting at the age of six. He published his first composition at the age of twelve.
  4. Mussorgsky went to military school and served in the military and as a civil servant.
  5. Mussorgsky suffered from alcoholism induced epilepsy, which eventually claimed his life at the age of 42.


Activity 1: Create Your Own Museum Exhibition

  • Over an 8-week period, you'll listen to compositions from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.
  • Each week, draw a picture to add to your exhibition.
  • At the end of the 8-weeks, you'll use your pictures to create your own museum show.
  • This week: Listen to the music, and draw, color, or paint a picture of someone promenading in any setting. Keep your picture in a safe place until your exhibition.

Activity 2: Describe the Music

After listening to the music, describe and discuss what you heard.

Read the list of adjectives. Select those that describe the music or think up additional adjectives.

  • Cheerful
  • Mournful
  • Soft
  • Noisy
  • Vivacious
  • Soothing
  • Eerie
  • Threatening
  • Surreal
  • Whimsical
  • Rhythmic
  • Grand

Activity 3: Study the Painting

Examine the painting paired with the music.

  • After you study the painting, narrate the scene shown in the painting aloud using your own words.
  • Describe how the painting relates to the music.

Activity 4: Act Out the Music

  • Listen to the music, and play follow the leader.
  • Follow the leader is a fun game where one person leads and the others follow and mimic the leader's actions.
  • At some point, the leader should lead the others in a promenade. They can also skip, tiptoe, duck walk, crawl, gallop, trot, sashay, etc. their way around your home.
  • Take turns so that everyone has a chance to be the leader.


Question 1

What is the title of the music?
1 / 3

Answer 1

The title is 'Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade.'
1 / 3

Question 2

Who composed the music?
2 / 3

Answer 2

The composer is Modest Mussorgsky.
2 / 3

Question 3

What does 'promenade' mean?
3 / 3

Answer 3

'Promenade' means to take a leisurely walk.
3 / 3

  1. What is the title of the music? The title is 'Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade.'
  2. Who composed the music? The composer is Modest Mussorgsky.
  3. What does 'promenade' mean? 'Promenade' means to take a leisurely walk.


  1. 'Modest Mussorgsky.' Wikipedia. n.p.
  2. 'Pictures at an Exhibition.' Wikipedia. n.p.