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

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

go on. Some people think he isn't very intelligent, but I don't agree. He has his own kind of brain, original and very witty. But he sometimes misuses this wit. This may be either a pose, to show that he is not like other people, or this may be just the way he is. The former is more believable. He has too much pepper, if one may say so. When Sasha and I gave everybody a nickname, the one we gave him--Humor--I find proper, because the main feature of his brain is a sense of humor. But he lacks warmth, softness--just the opposite of dear Sincerity ( Rimsky-Korsakov], who has so much of this. Perhaps he isn't able to become strongly enthusiastic and to love. I'm not yet sure about this . . .

31 August (late evening)

. . . Humor was very sweet today, he spoke so nicely and cleverly, at times especially so; today he was at his best. And he sang so nicely! I still can't quite understand his relation to Sasha. Anyway it seems to me that she interests him, and that he sees her as a puzzling, original, capricious but powerful nature. But whether he is able to be attracted by her, to fall in love with her, I don't know. He is an egotist, a terrific egotist!

New Finale

. . . During the winter of 1870-71 Musorgsky made another decisive change in his opera. He decided not to end with the death of Boris, but with the scene of the rebellious people [at Kromy], the triumph of the Pretender and the cry of the Simpleton about poor Russia. How much the opera gained by this conclusion, in stunning and tragic force, and in menacing significance! This important change was suggested to the composer by his friend, V. V. Nikolsky. Musorzsky was in raptures, and in a few days he reconstructed and fitted this final scene. I admit that I felt despair and a profound feeling envy that it was Nikolsky and not I who suggested such a splendid idea to Musorgsky . . . --VLADIMIR STASOV


68a. NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV to MODESTE MUSORGSKY

[ Thursday, 7 January, 1871]

FRIEND MODESTE.

I've already written to Ludmila Ivanovna that today I again cannot be at her place, because I am again on guard (on the occasion of the Twelfth-Night parade46 a large number of the officers are occupied, and it is necessary to maintain the watch, as you see, frequently). but I am afraid that my letter to Ludmila Ivanovna will not be received until tomorrow and you will not know anything about it, therefore I am sending you this missive. Write me at once, so I will

____________________
46
See postscript to Letter 3.

-155-

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