Downhill to Fame

Hollywood, ransacking the lives of composers for plot material, has never got around to Modeste Petrovich Musorgsky. The composer of Boris Godunov suffered no searing romances, died a quaking alcoholic at 42; during most of his life he was regarded, with loving condescension, as little more than a talented idiot, even by the other four of the Russian Five.*

But the story of the aristocrat who wrote music full of crude peasant power, and his downhill rush from dandy to drunk, is as dramatic as any in music. Many of the facts, but...

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