Learn about Mussorgsky, and the artists who he inspired, as well as the artist Viktor Hartman who served as the Muse for Mussorgsky’s Masterpiece "Pictures at an Exhibition."

Shirley Elias is a Winnipeg artistic double threat! She is both a world class pianist, and internationally recognized painter. As a solo pianist she has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, in addition to some of the country’s greatest musicians. She has recorded three solo CD’s and has been featured numerous times on National radio broadcasts, and has numerous compositions written for her. As a painter she has done more than 500 paintings, including over 100 commissions. Her art can be seen in numerous galleries from coast to coast, to coast, and can be found in both private and government collections.

Elias has teamed up with the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts and SafeatHome.MB.ca to put on a course called “Muse/ically Mussorgsky.” This course explores not only the inspiration behind Mussorgsky masterpiece “Pictures at an Exhibition,” but also how this work inspired other artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, and Elias herself. The course runs every Thursday in March, starting on March 4th running through March 25th, and is completely free. All participants need to do to take part is register by going to:


“Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the classical world is the most famous of this marriage between music and art,” Shirley says. The course will look at three things; the story behind the piece “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and Mussorgsky’s friendship with the artist Viktor Hartman, and critic Vladimir Stasov. The course will also focus on the “other” art that  came from Mussorgsky’s piano master work;  whether it be Wassily Kandinsky’s art show inspired by the music, or the various composers who did orchestrations of the piano work, most notably Maurice Ravel, and even Shirley Elias’ take on the Promenade and ten paintings that are represented in Mussorgsky’s Pictures.

Viktor Hartman's painting of the Great Gate of Kiev

“It’s just and inspiring piece of music. It’s so colorful…it’s so animated, it’s virtuosic…it just sparks the imagination whether you’re an artist or not." ”says Elias. “The pieces are all short little fragments. So we’ll be listening to the piano version, and then we’ll listen to the orchestrated version and how that kind of inspires different things in your listening.”

Viktor Hartman’s original art that inspired “Pictures at an Exhibition” will also be explored along-side the music. The artist Wassily Kandinsky’s will also play a role in the course. In particular his  infamous art installation that took place in the 1920’s that was inspired by Mussorgsky’s musical work. “Kandinsky is coming along on this ride for a couple of reasons,” says Elias. “He’s inspirational for me, and he was also known as a visual musician.”

Muse/ically Mussorgsky will also explore Elias’s sound/visual world in regards to Mussorgsky’s work. She has done a set of 11 paintings inspired by the work and these paintings will also be used to show how music can inspire a visual and artistic expression.

The course is sure to be interesting, informative, and will hopefully encourage listeners to see and hear music a whole new way. The course is COMPLETELY FREE, thanks to the generous support of Safe at Home. You do not need to be an artist or a musician, to take part. All you need is your own personal interest and a computer, and can take part in the amazing course without leaving the comfort of your living room.

To register for Muse/ically Mussorgsky click here:


If you missed host Chris Wolf’s conversation with Shirley Elias you can see the whole conversation here: