Talk:Night on Bald Mountain

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Mount Triglav[edit]

Mount Triglav, as linked from this article, is in Slovenia and has nothing to do with Bald Mountain in or near Kyiv. Shouldn't the link and text be updated to Lysa Hora? hexonut 22:15 20 April 2006 UTC

bare vs. bald[edit]

So which is more correct, "bare" or "bald"?

Both are actively used by performers, arrangers and publishers, but "Bare" is used more often. hexonut 15:16 20 April 2006 UTC

The Russian word "lisaya" means bald, but is used in this case figuratively for a mountain supposedly barren of trees. Therefore, most experts officially title the piece "Night on the Bare Mountain", even if they commonly refer to it as "Night on Bald Mountain".
"Bald" is used in English as well as Russian to refer to a mountain without trees--"Bald Mountain" is more idiomatic than "Bare Mountain" (as evidenced by the former five times as many Google hits), so it's a bit pedantic to translate the Russian phrase with "bare." Furthermore, "Lysa Hora" is a place name in Slavic folklore associated with witchcraft--see Lysa Hora (folklore), so it's questionable to translate it as though it were a generic "bare mountain." "Night on Bald Mountain" gets about four times the hits as "Night on the Bare Mountain" (and 14 times the hits of "Night on a Bare Mountain"--maybe there's four times as sites posted by non-experts as by experts, but if that's the case, I'd say the non-experts have got it right. I wouldn't mind seeing a citation documenting the claim that "most experts" are going with the "a bare mountain" translation. Nareek (talk) 03:24, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, I have to say that "bald mountain" is completely unidiomatic in British English - hills and mountains are "bare", I have only ever seen/heard "bald" being used with people.

In the US, many hills and mountains are officially "bald". There are "Bald Mountains" in Michigan, Idaho, and Colorado that I know of. Georgia's highest peak is "Brasstown Bald". I'm of the opinion that "bald" and "bare" are both acceptable. "On Bald Mountain" gets about 12m hits on google. "On a Bare Mountain" gets about 5m. (talk) 02:04, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

I too just got the following google hits: 26,600 for "on the bare mountain" and 10,900 for "on the bald mountain"; 10,200 for "on a bare mountain", 3,320 for "on a bald mountain". [NB: Whether it should be "a" or "the" mountain is impossible to say, as Russian does not use articles before nouns, the title being "Night on Bald mountain" absolutely literally, but "Night on a Bare Mountain" if translated with any respect for the target language.]

I might add that Google hits prove very little, as various combinations of words can be tried, and the results depend on i) Google's servers ii) lots of non-native English floating around the WWW. I work as a translator, and whilst Google can occasionally be helpful, it often obfuscates rather than clarifies matters.

Furthermore, I have played this piece in several orchestras in the UK and France and know it only as "Night on a bare mountain" in the UK (or "Une nuit sur le mont Chauve" in France, my Collins-Robert French-English dictionary confirming that "chauve" translates as "bald" (people) and "bare" (hill, summit) into English).

I am frankly quite bewildered that the article title in Wikipedia can be any different. Please can I suggest that the title is reverted, and reference made to "bald mountain" as an alternative, less well-used and over-literally translated title.

Apologies for not being able to sign in properly, but I am at work. DERW (talk) 09:37, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

I question the value of Google hits in deciding how to translate the title of this piece. Many references are probably made by people with little knowledge of either Russian or the composition. Professionals (of which I am not) should be the arbiters. I wrote the opening paragraphs (and most of the article which follows) and with one exception quoted titles from the Grove Dictionary of Music (who employ British English). I agree with their translations, "St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain", and "Night on the Bare Mountain", with the exception of the missing "A" in "A Night...". I too commonly refer to the piece as "Night on Bald Mountain" (I'm an American). However, I would change the article name if given the opportunity to "Bare" instead of "Bald", but I dare not bring down the wrath of the unenlightened majority of Wikipedia readers upon myself. American readers probably form a statistical majority anyway, so "Bald" is unlikely to change. A few more notes however: As pointed out above, Russian uses neither definite article ("the") nor indefinite article ("a"). In rendering the title into English, the "A" and "the" in "A Night on the Bare Mountain" are necessary because the title refers to a particular night (a recurring one, June 25) and a particular mountain (the composer had only one in mind, but we don't necessarily know which). Using just "Night on..." could imply every night or multiple nights per year. Using "The Night..." implies only one event, not a recurring one. Using just "Bald/Bare Mountain" without article, or "...on The Bald Mountain", implies that this is the name of the mountain (this is not a certainty). Using "a Bald/Bare Mountain" implies any bald/bare mountain (not the case here). "A Night on the Bare Mountain" has the best combination of meanings that are faithful to the composers' intent (at least what we know of it), is precise with regard to the scenario of the original tone poem and Rimsky-Korsakov's later edition, and yet remains idiomatic for all English readers. "Night on Bald Mountain" is indeed the most accurate literal word-for-word translation, but may be misleading in what it implies semantically. Far be it for me to defend the French (their influence on Russian names and titles used in English speaking lands causes me endless annoyance), but "Une nuit sur le mont chauve" seems to agree with my assessment. Ivan Velikii (talk) 00:43, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
I think it's a safe assumption that most people are aware of the composition because of its appearance in the Disney film Fantasia which has been seen by literally hundreds of millions of people across the world. I'm not suggesting for one iota of a second that Disney animations provide authoritative translations of Russian title. But I think the imperative guideline for us is that the article should be located at the name by which most speakers refer to something. Therefore, because of the influence of the Disney film (and again not because it's the "correct" translation) I think we should keep the article in this location. It would, however, be quite appropriate to include a section in the article discussing the differing translations of the title, and if we can find a reliable source saying so, that "Night on Bare Mountain" is the preferred translation by so-and-so. --JayHenry (talk) 04:58, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
I realize I'm a bit late adding to this discussion, but just for information, Grove Music Online gives the English title as "St John's Night on Bald Mountain". --Robert.Allen (talk) 04:50, 19 July 2013 (UTC)


Could someone add a date of composition to this article?

Original version: 23 June 1867, written in 12 days. Source: Mussorgsky Bio (in Russian). hexonut 15:16 20 April 2006 UTC

Apparent hoax sentence removed[edit]

I just searched Google, and found no basis for this sentence:

"Bald Mountain, a mountain in the Blue Ridges in Southwest Virginia, is named after this work."

and deleted it. If it is true, it can be reverted with a reference. My apologies if I am mistaken. Rizzleboffin 18:23, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Beastie Boys?[edit]

I recall hearing this song in some Beastie Boys song a while back. No clue which one. -- 14:14, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

'Intergalactic' Stilist 23:59, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
Yep, that's the one. -- 21:57, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Public domain?[edit]

Does anyone know for sure if this song is in the public domain? Would it be helpful to add whether or not it is to the entry? — Romis 13:14, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

It's not a song. As for your question, any work published before 1923 is out of copyright in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the copyright of a musical composition expires 70 years after the death of the composer, which in this case was 1881 + 70 = 1951, although it may have been even earlier depending on when the UK first recognized Russian copyrights. — Walloon 21:31, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Disambiguation notice, Patrick White[edit]

Hi...An editor who did not sign in has removed a disambiguation notice from the top of the page. There is a play by Nobel Laureate Patrick White of the same name, and there is now an erroneous link from the 'Works' section of the Patrick White article to this page. There is no Wikipedia link to a page about the play, but it would be good to have one, at which time a disambiguation page may be required. Do you mind leaving the notice as is in the mean time, or is there a better way to resolve the situation? Kind regards, --Greatwalk 09:08, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for being so polite. I removed the link, quite a long time ago (Sorry I didn't 'fess up). I found the placement at the top of this article to be a pretty clear plug for a website. Patrick White may be a great playwright (even Nobel caliber). But if that is so, why is there no article for this play? A link to a Wikipedia article would be one thing (I would tolerate that), but if we allow links to websites on articles not directly related to the subject matter, we would soon have chaos. Every advertising weasel and his mom would have Wikipedia plastered with links. Wikipedia is not a forum to advertise somebody's site on Patrick White and his play. That belongs at the bottom of a Patrick White article. If his play is that noteworthy, it will soon have its own article. Why don't you start one. It only takes a paragraph or two to be the catalyst for others to contribute. Ivan Velikii 07:05, 24 October 2007 (UTC)


Listening to this, I noticed that part of it as the castle background music in Super Mario World. I may be wrong, but I am fairly certain. If I am wrong, I'm sorry. But if I'm right shouldn't there be some mention of it? Kage-Lupus 16:47, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

As with other well-known compositions, this piece has been featured in countless commercial products/media (e.g., tv, movies, video games etc.) and there is no need to mention each instance. --EmmaPelfry 00:17, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
I'd have to listen to it again, but I'm pretty sure there's no direct quote from this piece in the Mario music. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ 12:10, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
Not a direct quite, no, but incredibly similar, and undoubtedly inspired by. It's close enough that when I commented on the similarity, almost everyone listening agreed. Ynos 23:57, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, it's similar. But certainly not worthy of the article, any more than it showing up in similar fashion in a lot of cartoons. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ 00:42, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
It is the current practice to remove these "pop culture" references to classical music, not because they are unimportant (as is clear from the number of people who take the time to post them) but because they tell us nothing about the composer and his work, other than the fact that it is popular. This is already known. The relationship of such musical quotations and borrowings belong in the article of the borrower not the borrowed. Please keep Mario's use of great works of art in the Mario article. This is not an elitist attitude, just common sense. Again, what does the use of Night on Bald Mountain in Mario World tell us about Musorgsky's (Rimsky-Korsakov's) work? Yes, its very popular, atmospheric, and iconic, but what else? Ivan Velikii 06:45, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

'one of two compositions'[edit]

That seems like a bit odd wording. They are really almost the same piece - Rimsky-Korsakov's version is a lot closer, at least to my ears (and it's been a while since I've heard the original, so maybe I'm wrong) than simply "using the themes". But I figure someone with a bit more in depth knowledge might want to shed some light on why it's worded that way. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ 12:10, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

You might want to listen to the original version (1867) again. It is vastly different than the Rimsky version, particularly the last 3 quarters of the piece. Both are based on the same stock of themes however. Now the "Dream Vision of the Peasant Lad" is indeed very similar to the Rimsky version. However, since it features a chorus, it would be difficult to confuse the two. Suffice to say the original Musorgsky is very different, and is essential listening for all Russian music fans. Most listeners brought up on Rimsky will find it (the original Mussorgsky version, that is) wild and rambling, but more playful than frightening. Gerald Abraham, a great Musorgsky scholar, expressed the idea that the restored original should "supersede" the Rimsky. While that is certainly true of the case with Boris Godunov, I believe most musicians would find the Rimsky Night on Bald Mountain to be a more coherent, well-crafted, and chilling piece. I don't take sides, however. Both are great pieces. (On the other hand, a 10-20 year ban on all Rimsky-Korsakov arrangements of works by Musorgsky wouldn't be too bad!) I wrote most of this article. I am not done with it yet, even though it is long. I don't think anyone will find another place where all the information about the various versions are collected, although I'd like to know if there is a study readily available. Anyway, is there anyone who knows both versions well who finds the opening statement of this article confusing? The point I tried to make is that there are two versions of the work, and that despite the belief of 99% of the population that the commonly heard version is "Mussorgsky's Night On Bald Mountain", it is actually a composition by Rimsky-Korsakov. Clearing up that confusion is half the battle in getting to know this piece. Ivan Velikii 05:46, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Are you still working on this? Can you expand the lede and make the Mussorgsky original v. RK adaptation/arrangement clearer? It needs to be more explicit that both pieces refer, fundamentally, to works by Mussorgsky, even if the more commonly heard version is heavily filtered. Or it's a thought at least. Eusebeus (talk) 18:28, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
I think that it is a bit exaggerated to say that the popular fantasy "Night on bald mountain" is a composition by Rimsky-Korsakov, and that it’s only "based" on Mussorgsky's themes. Rimsky never pretended it to be his own composition. Some hear Rimsky's arrangement and then the original 1867 and are surprised to find so many "new themes" Rimsky has added, and they are sure that the quiet ending is Rimsky's idea, but it is not. Rimsky arranged the 1880 version which was intended to be included in the opera "Sorochintsy Fair". Rimsky didn't only "base" it on Mussorgsky's themes. He really preserved the structure of the 1880 version (The appearance of the themes, the development and the quiet ending). Actually, it is more accurate to say that he "orchestrated" the piece (while omitting the choir) and made some revisions, but it cannot be said that it is a composition by Rimsky-Korsakov, no more than the version by Stokowski is his own composition. AdamChapman (talk) 10:51, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
If there is no objection I shall rephrase a little to make things more clear. AdamChapman (talk) 21:06, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
Indeed so. And while the original 1867 version sounds to me like a playful, rambling mess, I cannot recommend the later 1880 (mostly done by 1872 for Mlada, though the ending must have been 1880 as it uses Grïtsko's theme from his dumka in the opera, and he must have changed the lyrics as they refer to the Parobok) version too highly (orchestrated by Shebalin). The chorus makes it even more chilling, as do the theatrical horror twists (rather than the soft cadence to D major in Rimsky-Korsakov's version). Both are great pieces, and Rimsky-Korsakov's is certainly suited for its intended rôle as a concert piece outside the theatre, but I think Musorgsky's 1880 version really ought to be the "restored" one, not his 1867 version: it is after all his last word on the piece. (Though the chorus does make it more logistically difficult to arrange.) Double sharp (talk) 10:09, 3 January 2016 (UTC)
There's really no point in replying to a discussion of rephrasing a particular passage that was finished when the article was revised nearly seven years ago. If you'd like to start a new discussion, feel free to do so at the bottom of this talk page. P Aculeius (talk) 10:17, 3 January 2016 (UTC)


Don't we usually hear this played around Halloween? Shjacks45 (talk) 23:58, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Alleged need for cleanup[edit]

I removed the cleanup tag. There seems to be some redundancy in the article but the tag was generic and could have been for any reason which probably doesn't apply anymore. Willi Gers07 (talk) 19:41, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Synthesized version[edit]

Kind of surprised the article doesn't mention Isao Tomita's electronic version of Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration. There's probably no good encycopedic reason to do so, except that it takes first prize in scariness, and that's what the music is all about. Opus131 (talk) 00:15, 3 March 2012 (UTC)

Don't forget the solo piano adaptation of Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration made by Konstantin Chernov (1865-1937). That could also be found on YouTube along with Isao Tomita's adaptation. --Lo Ximiendo (talk) 21:23, 13 August 2014 (UTC)


I've moved this back to the original title, Night on Bald Mountain, following a clean-up of inconsistent references throughout article. This seems to be by far the most familiar title in English, as well as the most literal translation (at least as far as "Bald/Bare" goes). There wasn't any discussion or consensus before it was moved to "St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain" this summer. However, I've carefully indicated in the lead paragraph and a subsequent section about the name of the piece that there are various ways of referring to it, both in its original form and the modern orchestral versions. I hope that giving a proper explanation for each variation will help avoid future controversy about the article title. For consistency, I've used "Night on Bald Mountain" throughout the article, but left other forms where they occurred in direct quotations of English sources. P Aculeius (talk) 21:06, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

This may be a WP:STICK issue, but I had never, ever heard of this title before arriving here through a redirect. In the UK this piece is almost always performed and released as "Night on a (sic) Bare Mountain". This may or may not be an accurate translation from Russian, but it certainly satisfies WP:COMMONNAME. --Ef80 (talk) 11:45, 4 March 2017 (UTC)
Here are the relevant google results:
  • Night on Bald Mountain – 128,000
  • Night on the Bare Mountain – 55,700
  • Night on Bare Mountain – 17,600
  • Night on a Bare Mountain – 8,210
  • Night on the Bald Mountain – 6,110
  • Night on a Bald Mountain – 3,180.
Carry on. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 12:01, 4 March 2017 (UTC)
As I said, WP:STICK. Best wishes. --Ef80 (talk) 12:45, 4 March 2017 (UTC)
And, just in case this helps, Ngrams record usage in published works up to 2000, thereby excluding internet mentions and Wikipedia clones. the results for the same search listed above are even more definitive. And, as the discussion here and in the article states, the reason for using different translations seems to be that they're somehow "more literal" than the older, more widely used one. That's been a trend for decades now, giving the "most literal" translation of titles instead of the one which conveys the meaning using the normal idioms and metaphors of the language you're translating something into. But in this case, it's not "more literal", since the literal translation from Russian is "bald", and the Russian doesn't use an article.
It's also not more idiomatic in English, since "bald" is commonly used to describe barren peaks (and other places devoid of trees/vegetation) in English (not just human crania, see Bald Mountain, Bald Knob (disambiguation), Bald Hill, Bald Hills, Bald Peak, Bald Bluff, Illinois, Bald Head (disambiguation), Bald Island, and many others), and if "Bald Mountain" is being used as the name of a place, it shouldn't have an article either. In other words, "the bare mountain" seems to be nothing more than a case of hypercorrection arising from a lack of familiarity with the use of "bald" for anything other than hairlessness, and the mistaken belief that referring to place by a pseudonym (or an indefinite place) by calling it "Bald Mountain" (or even "Bare Mountain") somehow converts the name into a common noun requiring an article. P Aculeius (talk) 14:01, 4 March 2017 (UTC)
This is simply a WP:ENGVAR thing. There are lots of Bald Mountains in the US, but not elsewhere. I don't dispute that the 'Bald' title is more common globally though, probably because of Fantasia as has been mentioned. --Ef80 (talk) 00:10, 5 March 2017 (UTC)
No, it's not. The use of "bald" to describe mountains, hills, or other features devoid of vegetation is not an Americanism. While the British Isles don't have a lot of "Bald" place names, there's a Bald Hill in Oxfordshire and another in Scotland. I counted sixty-eight Bald Hills in Australia, seven in Canada, and fourteen in New Zealand. Not to mention several more named "Bald Hills". Twenty-five Bald Knobs in Australia, and two in New Zealand; ten Bald Mountains in Canada, six in Australia, one in New Zealand. Not to mention a Bald Butte in Canada, Bald Cones in all three, a number of Bald Rocks, Bald Peaks, sixteen Bald Heads (all references to headlands without trees or vegetation, not one referring to a hairless scalp), Bald Islands, Bald Points, etc. In each case, "Bald" refers to the absence of vegetation, and not lack of hair. This isn't unique to English; In Italy there are several places named "Monte Calvo", "Montecalvo", or "Moncalvo". Mont Ventoux in France is also known as "the bald mountain". There are dozens of places called Lysa Hora or Lysa Gora in Poland, the Ukraine, and the Czech Republic. P Aculeius (talk) 04:14, 5 March 2017 (UTC)

Non-classical versions[edit]

There was once a reasonably good list of the various adapations of this piece, but unfortunately it was labelled as "trivia" and removed by someone who presumably considers all non-classical music to be trivial (or more charitably did not think it through. I intend to source and restore this section, if there are any reasonable reasons anyone thinks I should not do this, please let me know now. 阝工巳几千凹父工氐 (talk) 15:26, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Before it was deleted, that section contained thirty-nine separate items, some a full paragraph in length. By contrast, the section on Stokowski's version lists eight notable recordings (but is not intended to be exhaustive); under Rimsky-Korsakov's version, the article says only that, "recordings of Rimsky-Korsakov's revision are too numerous to catalog in this article," and under "other versions" there are a mere handful described in three or four total lines. So if you re-add this section, it's going to look overwhelmingly huge, even though many of the items are indisputably trivial: "part of the song was heard in Dracula 2000" (and of course, it's not a song); seven items refer to the use of or allusion to excerpts in episodes of television programs, and at least two to old commercials; multiple video games have used Chernobog's theme as a cue. Are these all notable? If so, perhaps it would make more sense to create a separate article listing examples of Night on Bald Mountain in popular culture, and mention only the very most significant examples in this article. P Aculeius (talk) 18:14, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about the 'in popular culture' aspect, though that was the title heading, and uses in TV, movies, etc is clearly trivia. I'm talking about significant notable reworkings which were also deleted. So no worries there. 阝工巳几千凹父工氐 (talk) 15:28, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
Could you present here the text you propose to insert? -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 01:23, 4 February 2016 (UTC)