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

P. S. Tell Sofia Ivanovna that the ace of spades bows to her. I await an answer, Mili.

10 February 1860


17. To MILI BALAKIREV, Nizhni Novgorod

26 September [1860] St. Petersburg

I have barely collected my strength to write you, dear Mili. I've only just returned from the country, and learned your address from the Stasovs and hurried to talk with you--it's such a long time since I've seen you. I think you will be interested to hear how I passed my time in the Moscow countryside.49--My illness lasted almost till August so that I could devote myself to music only at brief intervals; most of the time from May to August my brain was weak and highly irritated. Nevertheless I collected some materials that will be needed later; Œdipus and the little sonata50 have made some headway. The sonata is almost ready, something has to be cleaned up in its middle section, but the tailpiece is successful.--Œdipus has had two choruses added to it: an andante in B-flat minor and an allegro in E-flat major, which will be used in the introduction, and are being written now. --Besides this I have received extremely interesting work, which I must prepare for next summer. It is this: a whole act to take place on Bald Mountain (from Mengden drama The Witch51) a witches' sabbat, separate episodes of sorcerers, a solemn march for all this nastiness, a finale--the glorification of the sabbat in which Mengden introduces the commander of the whole festival on Bald Mountain. The libretto is very good. I already have some material for it; it may turn out to be a very good thing. Of the smaller things I've written: "Lord of My Days,"52, which in my opinion turned out entirely satis-

____________________
49
At Glebovo, with the Shilovskys.
50
The manuscript of the Sonata in C Major is dated " 8 December 1860," and this reference may be to that work. See list of piano works. Gerald Abraham (in Calvocoressi Mussorgsky, E. P. Dutton & Co., 1946, p. 7) ingeniously supposes that this last work on Œdipus found its way into the opening chorus in Act III of Salammbô.
51
Though many of Baron Mengden's plays exist in print or in manuscript, no copy of The Witch has been uncovered.
52
"Lord of My Days" was possibly a song based on the prayer in Pushkin poem, "Hermits and Pure Women, Too."

-25-

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