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

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VI
Khovanshchina: Half-realized 1874-1875

An Apartment for Composer and Poet

In the autumn of 1874 Musorgsky and I decided to share quarters. He lived at that time on Shipalernaya. I took with him two rooms next to each other; the doors that divided our lodgings were left open, forming a small apartment, in which we organized a mutual housekeeping. All morning till 12 noon (when Musorgsky left for his office) and all evening we passed the time together in the larger room of our home. For the rest of the winter Musorgsky went ahead with his Khovanshchina. In addition to this, he wrote another song, "Forgotten," to my words, and a collection of songs entitled Sunless--also to my words, which had been written a year or two before . . .

"Many prattle," he once said to me, "that the only good things in me are my plasticity and sense of humor. Let's see what they'll pronounce now, when I hand them your verses. Here is nothing more than feeling, and I consider that it came out pretty well."--ARSENI GOLENISHCHEV-KUTUZOV


135a. ALEXANDER BORODIN to YEKATERINA BORODINA, Moscow [Extract]

S. Peterburg. 25 September 1874

. . . I was at Korsinka's on Sunday; there was a gathering. Cui is making progress in Tisbé. They played the 1st and 2nd acts in their entirety. (He worked on them all summer.) What loveliness, what beauty! Modeste performed 5 songs [ Sunless] but they all remind one of Boris, or are the fruit of a purely intellectual invention, and produce a very unsatisfactory impression.

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