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

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

times in the little circle of his comrade-composers. The delight, enthusiasm, and admiration were general; each of these talented men, while finding various defects in the opera, felt nevertheless that something big and new was being created before his eyes. In the last months of his life Dargomizhsky also heard some of the most striking bits: the first scene and the scene at the inn, and notwithstanding that at the moment he was engaged in the completion of his great work of genius, The Stone Guest, crown of his artistic career, with generous enthusiasm he freely repeated in the presence of all that Musorgsky "goes even further than I." At these musical gatherings Musorgsky usually did everything himself--the choruses, recitatives, ensembles, and the solo roles. For the female roles he had a wonderful helper in Al. Nik. Purgold; she performed the parts of Xenia, the Tzarevich, the Nurse, Maryna, the urchins who tease the Simpleton, and performed them with artistry, fire, passion, grace, fury, playfulness, and, above all, with simplicity and naturalness, closely resembling the incomparable renderings of Musorgsky himself. These trials of Boris took place in gatherings at the home of L. I. Shestakova, V. F. Purgold, and Al[exandra] Al. Khvostova . . . --VLADIMIR STASOV


58b. VLADIMIR STASOV to DIMITRI STASOV (Extract]

July 18, 1869 . . . Musorgsky has definitely finished Boris Godunov and nearly at the end he has Pimen's story about the appearance to him of the Tzarevich Dmitri--the story is so magnificent that it equals Finn's Ballad [in Ruslan], and the best places in the first and second acts of Boris, i.e., the people's scenes with the forced weeping and howling of the women (Prologue, Scene 1] and the scene at the inn with the police-officers . . .


59. To MILI BALAKIREV

[ 27 September, 1869]

DEAR MILI,

I regret very much that I can't be of any help to you: In the first place, I've had a severe cold since Wednesday, but that would be nothing--today I forced myself to go to the office, and consequently moreover would be able to go tomorrow to help you in our common cause. But the second reason is considerably more severe than a severe cold. I do not consider it necessary to lie, and so I speak out directly: Among a large company of people not at all known to me, I do not consider

-131-

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