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

man.36 The riddle has been solved: all the delays with Ruslan and A Life for the Tzar originate with Smetana, who appears to be the worst sort of intriguant, hates Glinka's music and calls it Tartar! He belongs to the pro-Polish party and he has dishonorably transferred his hatred of Russia to its art . . . But I'm no fool, either, and I will lead the attack myself . . .

Prague. January 11, 1867

. . . Much to my happiness Smetana doesn't train the chorus himself, but this is Mr. Tausig's work; he is a decent musician who is in sympathy with Glinka's music and therefore it is now easy for me to remove Smetana's influence from the Tartar operas, so let him ferment himself . . . The ringleaders of the local abominations are Poles, who live here in great numbers and have already succeeded in forming a whole coalition of Czechs--against the Russians . . .


41. To MILI BALAKIREV, Prague [A Collective Letter]

9/21 January, '67

[From Ludmila Ivanovna Shestakova]

As soon as we gathered together yesterday evening the conversation, of course, turned before all else to you; and just then your letter arrived, Mili Alexeyevich; so the idea occurred to me that each of us might write you a line; I know what pleasure this can give you in a foreign country; your departure has drawn me closer to Cui and to the others who truly love you. What does it matter if in A Life for the Tzar you will have to cast not quite suitable actors, but at least our Ruslan will be produced well (and Pátera has not yet informed me of the receipt of the scenery. Nice fellow he is! What more can be said!) I would be so happy if Kolař would send me all the newspapers that contain even a word about you and my brother's operas; ask him again about this for me. I also saw The Bartered Bride in Prague and Paleček astonished me, he is actually a younger version of our own Petrov;37 he is wonderfully talented; I am happy that he pleases you

____________________
36
Osep Paleček's performance of the basso role of Farlaf in Balakirev's Prague production of Ruslan eventually led to a contract and a lifetime at the Marinsky Opera in St. Petersburg.
37
Osip Afanasyevich Petrov was already a veteran of Russian opera, against whom every dramatic basso was measured. Of gypsy and Ukrainian ancestry,

-70-

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