I was using a score of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition from https://imslp.org/wiki/Pictures_at_an_Exhibition_(Mussorgsky%2C_Modest). This one was published by V. Bessel & Co. in St. Petersburg, 1886, a reprint of the first edition. In bar 10, the score (see below) has G natural where every later score I found (for example, see bottom) had G flat. Excerpt from Pictures at an Exhibition, first score

London: Augener, 1914. Plate 14816. Excerpt from Pictures at an Exhibition, second score

Is this a mistake in the earlier score or did the flat only appear in later scores?

2 Answers 2


In the first edition compare bar 10 in the first Promenade with bar 10 in Promenade V which appears after "Samuel" Goldenberg und "Schmuÿle". This time bar 10 has G flat.

So the missing flat the first time could be a typo.

Now take a look at this Wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pictures_at_an_Exhibition

Quote from that article:

As with most of Mussorgsky's works, Pictures at an Exhibition has a complicated publication history. Although composed very rapidly, during June 1874, the work did not appear in print until 1886, five years after the composer's death, when an edition by the composer's friend and colleague Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was published. This edition, however, was not a completely accurate representation of Mussorgsky's score but presented a revised text that contained a number of errors and misreadings.

Only in 1931, marking the 50th anniversary of the composer's death, was Pictures at an Exhibition published in a scholarly edition in agreement with his manuscript, to be included in Volume 8 of Pavel Lamm's M. P. Mussorgsky: Complete Collected Works (1939).

In 1940, the Italian composer Luigi Dallapiccola published an important critical edition of Mussorgsky's work with extensive commentary.

Mussorgsky's hand-written manuscript was published in facsimile in 1975.

Based on that I think we can conclude that the G flat printed in later editions is correct.

  • 2
    Further support that G flat is correct in b.10: both b.9 and b.11 contain G flat and not G; and G flat parallels the B flat in b.13.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 10:46

I believe this to simply be a mistake. I have the Peters 1975 edition edited by Christoph Hellmundt which claims to be based on the original manuscript held in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.

He says that obvious mistakes have been corrected, and they are listed, but there is no mention of this one which makes me think that there is a printing error in the edition that you are looking at.

Also, for what its worth, I cannot remember ever hearing that played as a G natural.

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