How does one approach the life and works of Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)? First of all, one must dispel a number of clichés which still surround the composer of Pictures at an Exhibition, A Night on Bald Mountain, and the operas Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina. Mussorgsky, a boor? An incompetent? We shall see. In his new biographical essay, Xavier Lacavalerie sets out to re-examine in greater depth our perceptions of the brilliant composer, by offering us a life story as personal as it is captivating.