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

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

"I Owe This to My Mother . . ."

. . . When I first saw Modeste Petrovich he was a young man of twenty-seven, a [former] splendid officer in the Preobrazhensky Guards. From our first meeting I was impressed with a particular delicacy in him and with the gentility of his manner; he was a man of extremely good education and control. I knew him for fifteen years, and during this entire time not once did I notice him allowing himself to lose his temper or, forgetting himself, to speak an unpleasant word to anyone. And more than once, when I remarked how well he was able to control himself, he answered: "I owe this to my mother, she was a saintly woman."

Musorgsky's attitude toward Balakirev was unchanging, with full respect for his great talent and his incomparable musical memory; they met regularly on completely friendly terms. . . .

Many often tried to talk Musorgsky into marrying; but his unwillingness to marry was almost laughable: more than once he assured me seriously that if I should ever read in the papers that he had shot or hanged himself, this would mean that on the day before he had got married . . . --LUDMILA SHESTAKOVA


40. To LUDMILA SHESTAKOVA

5 January, '67

Darling Savishna29 begs most humbly of the honored Ludmila Ivanovna to advise her at her dwelling-place whether she, Savishna, may present herself to her on Sunday and at what hour, for Savislina, in addition to her desire to see Ludmila Ivanovna and to hang her guilty head before her, has also the purpose of bringing to her, "Kalistrat" and "The Dnieper"30--newly baked pieces.--Savishna has had the grippe all this time and she coughed a lot and her nose behaved most indecorously, wherefore she has not shown herself.

Devoted Savishna*

____________________
*
Musorgsky's note: In the earthy orthography of Savishna.
29
This is the first of Musorgsky's several fantastic letter-writing masks to which Lapshin refers (page xii). The Savishna "mask" is modeled, of course, on the peasant woman in Musorgsky's song.
30
The first version of a song from Shevchenko poem "The Haidamaks."

-68-

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