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Ten Pieces - A Night on the Bare Mountain
How much do you know about A Night On The Bare Mountain?

Ten Pieces - A Night on the Bare Mountain

Which is your favourite of the BBC Ten Pieces? We have a KS2 Music quiz on each of the ten composers, along with a quiz on the specific pieces too! This one is all about the piece by Modest Mussorgsky, A Night on the Bare Mountain.

A Night On The Bare Mountain is an atmospheric piece which tells the story of a meeting of witches on a mountainside. A wild and frightening party goes on throughout the night until dawn when a church bell sounds and the witches disappear. Mussorgsky was never happy with the piece and the version we know today was arranged by his friend and fellow composer Rimsky-Korsakov.

Mussorgsky's A Night On The Bare Mountain is every bit as atmospheric as its title suggests. Let's find out how it is that the composer manages to raise those neck hairs!

Which section of the orchestra is used early on to suggest the sound of the scampering witches?
The lower strings
The percussion
The upper woodwinds
The brass
The flutes and reeds (oboe, clarinet) produce a suitably 'squawky' effect when playing quickly like this
In an age before films etc. as we now know and love them, colourful orchestral pieces such as Night on a Bare Mountain developed as a spectacular, dramatic way of catching an audience's imagination. If the piece set out to 'tell a story' it was known as Programme Music, but the orchestral form was known by a further special label. What are such pieces (like Sibelius' later Finlandia) called?
Orchestral pictures
Sound stories
Tone poems
Musical movies
This is the usual and correct musicological term for such works
Which of these best describes the overall shape of the piece?
It begins slowly and quietly, and gradually grows louder and faster
It begins slowly and loudly, then becomes faster but quieter towards the end
It starts quickly and quietly, then grows slower and louder
It starts quickly and loud, then ends slowly and calmly
If you want a piece that 'goes the other way' (like Answer 1 here), try our Grieg selection In the Hall of the Mountain King!
Which instrument is used to mark the moment of midnight?
The gong
The tubular bells (or rather, just one of them)
The cymbals
The horn
The almost immemorial sound of a bell (as with the harp, in its different way) is an immediately recognisable and evocative signal
On what occasion is the Night supposed to have taken place?
The night of St John's Day, very shortly after midsummer
The autumn equinox (late September)
At least that night would have been relatively short and not too cold ...
40 or so years before this piece was ever heard, another composer had written an orchestral 'movement' depicting (as this one also does) a 'witches' sabbath', using not-dissimilar musical effects at certain points. What was this other earlier work?
Beethoven's 7th Symphony
Hector Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique
Paradise Lost in a setting by Haydn
An opera by Verdi
If you like this kind of music, you may find it an interesting 'comparative listen'
When Walt Disney put together a series of musical pieces (including this one as its grand finale) with moving cartoon images in colour, in 1940, what was the title of the film?
Silly Symphonies
Toccata and Fugue
Sound Surround
All the other (wrong) answers are broadly relevant, but No.3 is the correct title of this groundbreaking popular musical education project. You might like to explore that too and compare its choice of pieces with the BBC's 'Ten', some 75 years later! (Some of which hadn't yet been written back then, of course ... )
There is another 'Bald Mountain' outside Vienna, but where is the one in this piece supposed to be?
In ancient Greece
Near Kiev in Ukraine
In the Russian Steppes
In the Alps
This is the same Kiev whose Great Gate features in the final movement of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition
Which of these instruments is used in the piece, apart from the 'regular' sections of the orchestra?
Nothing else can quite evoke the sense of a magical dream as the harp can!
Also as with Pictures at an Exhibition, Night on a Bare Mountain was not originally written by Mussorgsky as an orchestral piece: the orchestral version (in this case) was arranged by one of his friends in the composers' circle known as 'the Five'. Which of them did it?
Miliy Balakirev
Cesar Cui
Alexander Borodin
Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
One of Rimsky-Korsakov's own other better-known compositions, also describing 'flying things', is his Flight of the Bumble-Bee (which as you'd expect, is short and pretty quick!)
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC - KS2: Modest Mussorgsky - A Night on the Bare Mountain

Author:  Ian Miles

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