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

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

a woman on trial, who was accused of being a witch, and had confessed love pranks with Satan himself to the court. The poor lunatic was burnt--this occurred in the sixteenth century.63 From this description I stored up the construction of the sabbat.

Please do Sadko, dear Korsinka, it intrigues me so, and it would surely turn out so well in your hands. I wouldn't tease you to write on this subject if I weren't so sure that you could cook it well.64 I press your hand firmly, dear one. Till we meet.

Write to me: via the Warsaw R. R. at the Preobrazhenskaya Station --to me.

YOUR MODESTE


46. To VLADIMIR NIKOLSKY, St. Petersburg

Minkino Farm, 12 July, '67

We thank you greatly for your message--in one way it was very diverting and pleasing, and in another way, very irritating and unpleasant.--Poor suffering soul; what on earth made Maximilian, as you call him, with Prince Salm-Salm,65 bump into that copper, or possibly

____________________
63
This "graphic description" can be found on page 40 of the Khotinsky book: "In 1578 Jeanne Hervilliers of Verberie near Compiègne, whose mother was burned for witchcraft, was held for investigation for the same crime. Without any torture this woman confessed that when yet an infant, she had been committed by her mother to the evil spirit, with whom she had had sexual relations since the age of 12. For 30 years the spirit had visited her, even on her nuptial bed, without arousing the suspicions of her husband. She confessed to committing several murders and to corrupting persons, and although such depositions had no proofs and were obviously invented, the judges of Ribemont sentenced her to be burned at the stake. It is remarkable that this unfortunate one should want to die so quickly that she did not consent to appeal her sentence, although there was hope that the sentence could be commuted."
64
Vladimir Stasov had, for some time, been doing research work on Russian epic ballads (bylini)--his findings being published in 1868 as The Origin of Russian Bylini. Being particularly attracted by the colorful ballad of Sadko the Rich Merchant of Novgorod, Stasov proposed it to Balakirev, who in turn thrust it upon Musorgsky, who finally turned it over to the willing Rimsky-Korsakov.
65
French rule in Mexico came to an end with the execution of Emperor Maximilian on June 19, 1867. Prince Felix zu Salm-Salm was an adventurer who had drifted down from the Civil War in the United States to attach himself to Maximilian in the last months of the "imperial tragedy." There are no further hints as to the St. Petersburg identities behind these names.

-88-

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