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

29c. VLADIMIR STASOV to MILI BALAKIREV, Pyatigorsk [Extract]

St. Petersburg. Friday morning, May 17, 1863

. . . You can't imagine how unhappy it is for me now with you away. With whom else can I talk, whom can I tell tales to, with whom can I perform anatomy, profound and real, to the base, on all truths, incorruptible either by friend or by enemy, either by audience or by success, not by anything on earth? Where could I find such a man? I'm completely alone, there's no one to talk to. Even Cui has left for his dacha; God knows when he'll be back (incomprehensible apathy or flippancy). What is there for me in Musorgsky, even though he was [with me] yesterday at the theater?98 Well, yes, his thoughts seem to agree with mine, yet I didn't hear from him a single idea or a single word expressed with real profundity of understanding, with the profundity of a raptured, moved soul. Everything about him is flabby and colorless. To me he seems a perfect idiot. Yesterday I could have flogged him. I believe if he were left without tutelage, if he were suddenly removed from the sphere where you have held him by force, and he were set free to follow his own wishes and his own tastes, he would soon be overrun with weeds like all the rest. There's nothing inside him . . .


29d. MILI BALAKIREV to VLADIMIR STASOV, St. Petersburg [Extract]

Pyatigorsk. June 3, 1863

. . . Please write me, I have no one but you. I don't count Cui, he is a talent, but not a human being in a social sense; Musorgsky is practically an idiot. R.-Korsakov is as yet a charming child, of great promise, but by the time he blossoms into full light, I will already be old and will be useless to him. Besides you, I can find no one whom I need . . .

____________________
98
The premiere of Alexander Serov first opera, Judith, took place on May 16, 1863, at the Marinsky Theater, conducted by Konstantin Lyadov, with Valentina Bianchi in the role of Judith and Mikhail Sariotti as Holofernes. Musorgsky records this première and his criticisms, in detail, in Letter 30.

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