Souvenir d'enfance

Modest Mussorgsky

Souvenir d'enfance

About this work

The Souvenir d'enfance -- sometimes known as Souvenir d'enfance No. 3 because two other works were published under the title Souvenir d'enfance Nos. 1 & 2 in 1865 -- was the first piece Mussorgsky composed after joining the Preobrazhensky Guards (the same regiment which figures prominently in Mussorgsky's later opera Khovanshchina ). Although of slight build and slightly less than medium height, Mussorgsky still cut an impressive figure at social event in the uniform of the most notorious regiment in the Russian Imperial Army. What the regiment was most notorious for, of course, was the same thing the Tolstoy's fictional Count Vronsky was most famous for: drinking, carousing, gambling, and womanizing. But when the young Mussorgsky would attend social events, his natural shyness would lead him more often to the piano then to the gaming tables, and he soon became to expand upon the reputation he had started in Cadet school as a masterful accompanist and singer.

Although he performed mostly potpourris from popular operas of the day, Mussorgsky would also improvise his own music at the piano. Most of these works were, of course, never written down, but the Souvenir d'enfance was on October 16, 1857. A simple salon work of which there were thousand at the time, Mussorgsky's reveals nothing musically of the mature composer. The Souvenir d'enfance's conventional melody and figuration no more evokes images of childhood than it does a storm in Crimea. Indeed, only by the title does the future composer of The Nursery associate himself with the Souvenir d'enfance.