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

and planting pilgrims in the Kiev thickets.71 And in regard to musical and historical relationships he turned out to be lower than Verstovsky;72 in Vladimir's feast he made use of a modern saloon song and dancing girls, as if Vladimir were Holofernes.--But in reference to Cui, Serov rode over him brutally: on account of a hint by Cui (an entirely tactless hint) that in the Slavonic concert [of May 11] they played nothing of Serov's, the author of two five-act operas writes: A diplomatic regret, but a useless one . . . How do you like the word diplomatic? Too bad about Cesar's tactlessness. And they say that we're all tagged in this number--so it must be, and I am sure of this, that Serov already hates us in the most wholehearted way.

Till we meet, my dear, I firmly press your hand and send you a friendly kiss--I'm so happy about Sadko.

Your

MODESTE.


47a. NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV to MODESTE MUSORGSKY, Minkino [Extracts]

Abo, 1 August, 1867

I write you, as you see, dear Modeste, from the chilly Finnish strand and you are probably quite surprised; but this is the reason, that I received an assignment to go for a cruise on the yacht Wave and was forced to leave Peter for one month and also to leave Sadko, to my great displeasure, now that I am wandering around in various Finnish places, but by the middle of August I will return for good to Peter and I hope to see you then and get down to the continuation of Sadko, which I've written in final form up to the first chords of the gusli player.73 I received your letter at the very moment that I was setting down the Serovian phrase of which you don't approve--but somehow in a different way [musical quotation] and etc. exactly the same little thing in D major, only in the 1st and 2nd bars in place of ♩ I have

. Do you understand all that I've told you? I hope that you will not now reproach me with Serovisms . . .

____________________
71
These are the sneers of a nationalist who knows more about Kievan Russia, Vladimir the Great and Perun (god of thunder) than Serov does.
72
Verstovsky Tomb of Askold ( 1835) had drawn upon the same historical material that Serov later used in Rogneda.
73
The gusli is an ancient Russian instrument, ancestor of the zither before it was supplied with a keyboard.

-97-

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