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. Mother sends you friendly greetings and envies you your intimate neighborliness with the Djalmas.5


31. To CESAR CUI, St. Petersburg (environs)

Toropetz, 22 June [1863]

GREETINGS, DEAR CESAR,

. . . and boring, and sad, and vexing, and the devil knows what else!6 . . . and the overseer had to do some filth to the estate.--I had planned to get some decent things done, but here one has to make investigations, and inquiries, and run around from office to office, police and nonpolice. What a lot of impressions I get! And if mother weren't in Toropetz, I should go quite crazy in these ridiculous surroundings; it is only for this woman's sake that I am nailed here; she is terribly happy that I'm with her, and it gives me pleasure to give her this happiness.--And what landlords we have here! what planters! They are happy to have opened a club in town and rarely does a day pass that they don't gather there to make some noise. The business begins with speeches, declarations to the Gentlemen of the Nobility, and nearly always ends in such a fight that one feels like calling the police. One of the leading bawlers carries on a permanent dispute with the mediator, the mediator being his bête de somme; the bawler drives about town, collecting signatures in the name of Christ for the removal of the mediator. Another bawler, with a piteous brain, because of the lack of sufficient powers of conviction, emphasizes his arguments by raising his fists, which sooner or later land where they're meant to land. And all this occurs at assemblies of the nobility, and one meets these people every day, and every day they tearfully pester you about their lost rights, their total ruin . . . what howlings and moanings and scandals! The nobility are allowed to assemble--so they do assemble; they are allowed to fight about their business and the business of the zemstvo7--and they do fight, with fists and strong

____________________
5
Djalma is the East Indian prince in Eugène Sue Le Juif errant; this may be Musorgsky's or his mother's way of referring to the Caucasian tribes that Balakirev was seeing.
6
"And boring, and sad, and no one to whom one can offer one's hand . . ."-- Lermontov.

Andrei Rimsky-Korsakov characterizes this letter as a self-portrait by Musorgsky "in the role of a liberal Toropetz 'landlord,' an unwilling 'participant' in the 'social' disturbances of the manor nobility excited by their 'lost rights.'"

7
Elected rural (county) government bodies.

-55-

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