The Musorgsky Reader: A Life of Modeste Petrovich Musorgsky in Letters and Documents

By Jay Leyda; Sergei Bertensson et al. | Go to book overview

8. To MILI BALAKIREV

Wednesday

DEAR MILI,

We've taken a loge for the presentation of Ruslan27--in the belleétage, No. 13 on the left, and maman [Musorgskaya] invites you to join us, sincerely requesting you not to ignore this summons, so be sure to come. I hope you will tell us how you found Serov's lecture28 but I am sure in advance that you were bored, because the subject of the lecture is so intolerably boring.--I am angry with both you and Cesar for rejecting my polka;29 however, it is so insignificant that there's no use thinking about it; polkas and waltzes and dancing pieces in general are in my opinion musical "pigmies" 〈among one's musical works〉. In such things except a certain something--there is nothing. Till we meet, Mili, I and all of us hope to see you in loge No. 13 on Thursday.

Devoted to you from the soul, MODESTE

P.S. Kitosha left for Slavyanka; he'll be back tomorrow, and asks to kiss you and to give greetings to Sofia Ivanovna [ Ediet, Balakirev's housekeeper] and family.

7th of January. 1859

Performer

I wrote a libretto for The Mandarin's Son, and in a few months the opera was ready. We then arranged another performance,30 also

____________________
27
After a fifteen-year lapse from the Marinsky repertory, Glinka Ruslan and Ludmila was revived on November 12, 1858, in a bénéfice for the basso, Osip Afanasyevich Petrov. Musorgsky had made a four-hand arrangement of the Persian chorus from Ruslan--manuscript dated May 23-27, 1858.
28
The first (on December 30, 1858) of sixteen lectures given by Alexander Nikolayevich Serov "On Music from Its Technical, Historical and Esthetic View. points." Serov's career as a composer may have been unexciting, but his career as critic, polemicist, and all-round fighter was tumultuous, to say the least. Nervous, ambitious, aggressive, overcandid, he seldom enjoyed a lasting friendship. His most worthy struggle was as Wagner's Russian champion.
29
Porte-Enseigne Polka, whose publication, by Bernard in 1852, was paid for by Musorgsky's father. Musorgsky had waited a year and a half before daring to show his only published work to Balakirev and Cui.
30
At the Cuis' wedding party, October 8, 1858, Victor Krylov's first one-act comedy was presented, A Fair Copy, in which Musorgsky played the role of Alexander Ivanovich Porogin, high-school teacher and writer.

-14-

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