Pictures at an Exhibition

The Philadelphia Museum of Art; Bequest of Charles C. Willis, 1956

Composer and conductor Dirk Brossé has written a new composition based on American paintings from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The first movement musically re-interprets a beloved folk painting by a Quaker artist, with the help of some unusual instruments.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The George W. Elkins Collection, 1924

If you love both visual art and music, tune in this Sunday, June 18th at 5 pm to hear the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia perform the world premiere of Music Director Dirk Brossé’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Each of the seven movements was inspired by a different American painting from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. WRTI’s Debra Lew Harder talked with Dirk Brossé, who also conducts the performance, about his piece. Here’s an edited excerpt from the interview.

Judging by Modest Mussorgsky’s (1839-1881) ever-popular Pictures at an Exhibition and the relative scarcity of his other work, we might be excused for thinking he’d written little else. There is a reason: Mussorgsky’s difficult life.

Conrad Tao has been playing music for close to two decades – and he’s only 21. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on this pianist and composer, who now has over a dozen compositions, a busy career performing throughout the world, and a position as artist-in-residence at the Dallas Symphony.


One popular work in the orchestral repertoire was written by a Russian composer and then orchestrated decades later by a Frenchman. As WRTI's Susan Lewis reports, this version had its first performance in October, 1922 in Paris. The music describes a stroll through the gallery - a promenade - with ten specific images brought to life.