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

By Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky; Jay Leyda et al. | Go to book overview

advance that it's a good one. With God's help, I will take it away from Becker's at the first opportunity.--In spite of all my wishes to spend an evening with you in musical pursuits, I must tell you in advance that I can't make it on Tuesday; I have to go to my relatives. They're really very cross with me, saying that I've "completely forgotten them."--If you wish, set a date for the lesson yourself, and just let me know a couple of days ahead, so I can confirm it.

At your service, MODESTE MUSORSKY3


2. To MILI BALAKIREV

17 December [1857]

MOST EXCELLENT MILI ALEXEYEVICH,

The culprit is forgiven and impatiently awaits you on Thursday. Today, thank God, the fate of the long-hoped-for piano has been settled. Tomorrow the most worthy Becker is delivering it to us.--I am a thousand times grateful to you for the excellent choice. La machine est parfaitement solide. Today I pounded so on this machine that the tips of my fingers began to smart painfully as if ants were racing through them, but nothing happened to the machine itself except that one string jangled. The tone is excellent, the bass very good, and I am entirely satisfied with the instrument.--I've stored away Beethoven's 2nd Symphony for the inauguration of the new instrument on Thursday.--Thank you again, Mili Al., and I'll expect you on

____________________
we played through all Beethoven's symphonies and many of the works of Schumann, Schubert, Glinka, and others, as piano duet. I pointed out the technical structure of these compositions as we went through them, and got him to analyze the various musical forms. As far as I remember, there were few actual professional lessons; these came to an end, for one reason or another, and were succeeded by friendly exchange of opinions." The only extant work by Musorgsky of this period is the piano piece, Souvenir d'enfance (dated October 16, 1857). There was, however, an earlier piano work, Porte-Enseigne Polka, of 1852, of which Musorgsky was too ashamed to show it to his new friends.
3
Musorgsky uses this spelling of his family name consistently, both in signatures and on envelopes, until his thirty-sixth letter to Balakirev (undated, 1861-- omitted in this volume), and thereafter he restores the g of his family name. It may also be mentioned here that throughout his life Musorgsky did not use the common pronunciation of his name (Musorg'sky) but preferred to accent the first syllable. Both altered spelling and altered pronunciation may have been chosen for the sake of the greater elegance which he affected in his youth.

-4-

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