Biography of Famous Alcoholic and Composer Modest Musorgski

About the famous Russian composer and alcoholic Modest Musorgski about his struggle with the disease.

MODEST MUSORGSKI (1839-1881). Russian composer.

Musorgski was one of 5 Russian composers who tried in the last half of the 19th century to establish a "Russian National Music" movement in reaction to the traditional European school led by Tchaikovsky. Friends who collaborated with Musorgski in this effort included Rimski-Korsakov and Borodin. Musorgski is best remembered for Night on Bald Mountain, Pictures from an Exhibition, and his opera Boris Godunov.

Musorgski invariably turned to alcohol in times of stress. He drank himself to the point of physical collapse after being rejected by a lover in 1858, and after the death of his mother in 1865. Due to his chronic alcoholism, his career declined in the late 1870s, and by 1880 he was incapable of sustained musical effort. "Friends would often rescue Musorgski from some disreputable place, nearly in rags, his hair disheveled, his face swollen with alcohol," wrote a musical contemporary. His death at 42 was attributed to "alcoholic epilepsy."

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