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

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

23. To MILI BALAKIREV, St. Petersburg

19 January [1861) [ Moscow]

At last you've written, Mili.--I am happy about the fourth entr'acte and about Gussakovsky. Rubinstein had better not undertake "the dark soul"72 with his limitations and his barren fantasy. "How amusing is your thought about the letter you wrote to Demidov"--I answer you: "I gave it to Demidov's servant for delivery to Al. Al. together with a letter of my own, which I prepared in case he would not be found at home."

About Demidov I wrote you a bit in my second letter [Letter 22]-- now I add--he wishes to go to Peter and may arrive there alone on Monday, January 23, but this is just a plan as yet; in Moscow he has little opportunity to hear good music, good things fall to him but rarely in concerts; he is not yet fully formed, hardly touched musically, but with good instincts, he quickly grasps the development of a musical idea in a composition, he himself very often points out its phases and development--to speak simply, he has a feeling for musical logic. In his relation to esthetics he is a little youthful, but conscious esthetic feeling appears only in the perfect development of a musician.--Up to now he leans toward Mendelssohn, toward sour sentimentality, but this will fall away in time; we have all loved Mendelssohn; he already cannot stand Chopin. His teacher Wolf is schwach; I've seen him; he is the very image of a hairdresser. However, Demidov borrows only the mechanical part from him, without trusting him about the rest.--If I had known that I was to stay in Moscow for more than a week, I would have brought with me some things that Demidov is not acquainted with. In Moscow I have found only the Schumann sonata (F-sharp minor), the Schubert C-major symph., the F-major quartet of Beethoven (the Russian one)--which I have played for him.

As for my scherzo I will tell you that from what is written it is difficult to judge it, but after the thing is complete a decision can follow; I destroyed the 1st trio, I'll write another.--About your emphasis on limited atmosphere let us now speak.

The not very great difference between the names of Aslanovich and Ustimovich73 provides a contrast in personalities. As to Aslano

____________________
72
Rubinstein was writing a song on Lermontov's translation of one of Byron Hebrew Melodies, "My Soul is Dark."
73
Konstantin Aslanovich graduated with Musorgsky from the Ensigns School; nothing is known of either Ustimovich or Shchukarov.

-34-

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