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

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

Musik! Serov triumphator! Serov came, he saw, and he conquered! veni, vidi, vici! very well! another acquisition for the public.

Before going away I was at Cesar's dacha, where I had lobster soup and froze monstrously. Cesar was orchestrating Maria's aria2 and very nice it is, too, very tasty.--I, great sinner that I am, as I run through the estates, come gradually to the conclusion that one cannot live on the income from them, and that one must definitely enter into a career of service, to feed and pamper my delicate body. This I'm going to do in Peter, i.e. I'll enter the service.--My affairs are bad, very bad! Before winter comes I shall orchestrate my Intermezzo [in modo classico] and leave it as a separate piece.

You, Mili, are luxuriating in the Caucasus; you must have many fine, fresh, healthy impressions.--Will you finish the Russian overture 3 before winter? I am very eager to hear it; I think I will love it more than all your works; judging from what I already know of it, it is very much to my liking, and besides, this is the first work which has no German influence.

There's nothing to write about myself, and one shouldn't chatter nonsense; I have no impressions to give you, for what impressions could there be in Pskov Prov., which in my own district I know by heart with all its blessed landowners. I can say one thing only: the peasants are far more capable than the landlords in the matter of self- government--in their meetings they bring their business straight to the point, and in their own way they ably discuss their interests; while the landlords in assemblies quarrel among themselves, acquire swelled heads--while the aim of the meeting and the business in hand are shoved to the side.4 This is a comforting fact, this: our cards are trump. --There's nothing more; the same is all the same and the very same. Till we meet, dear Mili--perhaps into the next letter will fall something interesting for your tooth out of my Toropetz life or life in general, and till next time.--I warmly press your hand.

MODESTE

____________________
2
For his opera William Ratcliff.
3
1000 Years, or Russia, composed in 1862 for the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the Russian nation. Musorgsky is speaking of the orchestration, then in progress.
4
The manifesto of 1861 became law and reality in 1863. The serfs were now free laborers, offering themselves for hire, and the cries of the lesser Russian landowners were loud in the countryside. The scenes described by Musorgsky in this and the following letter must have been taking place all over agricultural Russia this summer.

-54-

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