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

By Jay Leyda; Sergei Bertensson et al. | Go to book overview
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circle is saved: [because] no Philistines of any kind punish themselves for their own blunders.--Wonderful! Wonderful.

I firmly kiss you, my dear,

MUSORYANIN

Till tomorrow

Boris and the Historians

. . . I don't remember the exact date, but I think it was probably March or April, 1872, when I invited Kostomarov94 to my home to hear excerpts from Boris Godunov, which Musorgsky was to play. Both Musorgsky and I were very eager to hear what our highly esteemed Kostomarov would think of the plot and libretto of the new opera, and perhaps of the music as well. Kostomarov brought Gay95 along with him, which delighted Musorgsky and me. Kostomarov was extremely pleased with Boris, even with the new and unusual music, and kept exclaiming delightedly--about the libretto, the personality of the characters, the scenes--"Yes, this is real Russian history." . . . Gay was also very pleased, although it was Italian music that he loved and knew well. In one of the intermissions, when Gay perhaps felt especially moved by the historical creative power of Musorgsky, he began to tell us the plan for a new painting he was thinking of doing. It was a scene in Uspensky Cathedral--the youthful Tzar Alexei Mikhailovich, placing his and on the tomb of the sainted Metropolitan Philip, in order to retain Nikon as Patriarch, swears never to interfere in the clerical affairs of Russia. Although the subject seemed to me very interesting and picturesque, I rose up at once against it, and warmly began to prove to Gay that in my opinion he should not have taken such a subject--a triumph of clericalism, of a despotic and arrogant clericalism, over the frightened, youthful Tzar. Gay naturally defended his idea, but Kostomarov and Musorgsky were on my side, and finally Gay capitulated and the picture was not mentioned again. He never even started to paint it.--

VLADIMIR STASOV


84. To VLADIMIR NIKOLSKY

LITTLE FRIEND dyainka,

Tomorrow, Saturday, at Vladimir Fyodorovich Purgold's, Boris

____________________
94
Nikolai Ivanovich Kostomarov--possibly the most distinguished Russian historian of his day--a valuable academic bulwark for the nationalist group.
95
Nikolai Nikolayevich Gay--a painter of historical and genre subjects. In a letter written some time after this occasion, Stasov mentions that Daniil Mordovtzev, the historical novelist, was also present this evening.

-183-

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