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

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

135b. MODESTE TCHAIKOVSKY to PIOTR TCHAIKOVSKY, Moscow

15 October 1874

. . . At last I've heard Boris Godunov. The auditorium was not quite full, although it was the first performance of the season. After the first scene, the Summons to the Throne, there was some hissing, whereas it impressed me. The second tableau, The Inn, was accompanied by vigorous applause and calls for the composer, though in my opinion this scene is horribly ugly in a musical respect and is far more deserving of hisses than its predecessor; its success was entirely due to the really artistic acting of Petrov and Kommissarzhevsky. All the rest, except the scene of the "Death of Boris," which produces a powerful impression, is revolting. The performance was excellent . . .


136. To LUDMILA SHESTAKOVA

27 October '74 in Peter

I hardly had time to eat and to rest a little, when I sped toward our dear généralissime, and all of a sudden, without rhyme or reason, I remembered this morning at your home, little dove Ludmila Ivanovna. This musical morning was arranged so simply, without hesitation or empty-headed conceit, but with this peculiarity, that again everyone acted without any conceit, just as God's spirit sent into his heart--just like the good old days. Musical ranks as well as their braidings, shoulder-straps and facings,1 do not belong in such discussions as took place at your home today; the distribution of rewards and the awarding of ranks do not even crawl into one's head.

Almost all that has been thought out in Khovanshchina was shown: no one was asked, no one was commanded to jibe; the discussion went on in a free and easy way, went on lovingly, without frightening anyone, or nagging anyone. And we felt good--just like the good old days. Why did this happen and why at your home in particular? This is the reason for my epistle. In you lives the genius of Glinka; you yourself, perhaps, may not know, but, almost without your being aware of it, there comes out that of which we today were eye-witnesses. And I myself don't know--why, to what purpose I did what I did today; there's only one explanation--it did itself. No, we live on, little dove Lud

____________________
1
In Gore ot Uma, Skalozub says, "But men are different--in the braiding. shoulder-straps, and the facing of their uniforms."

-283-

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