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

German geniuses, Beethoven, Weber and Schumann (each in his own way) were poor vocal composers, including the characteristic and yet, in many ways, fresh Weber. The Germans sing as they speak, but they speak à faire tonner le gosier, but when they compose for singing, then they do not think of the gosier, forcibly cramming human thought into the frame of a preconceived musical phrase.--These are a people, theoretical in music, too, who with nearly each step fall into abstraction. You, educated on the Russian soil of realism, will not (I hope) like the German roosters' Sehnsuchten.

I considered it necessary to speak this whole diatribe to you, because I was astonished, or rather, perplexed, by your question, what German things to sing: sing all or nothing--the result will be the same;--didn't you really know this yourself, and if you knew, then why, for the sake of fun, did you ask me, Doña Anna-Laura? Our dear Orchestra will be displeased when you read her this epistle. The Orchestra is by preference theoretical, and doesn't wish and never wished to see nonsense that is beyond musical beauty. I hope to receive a few lines from you and from the dear Orchestra. It's so easy to do this: take the pen and write, of course previously dipping the pen into ink or some such outstanding liquid--for example, coffee, of which so much is drunk in chicory Germany.

And meanwhile I firmly press your hands, Doña Anna-Laura and dear Orchestra, and ask you to write, and to those of your folks who know me, I bow.

MODESTE MUSORGSKY


64. To VLADIMIR NIKOLSKY

28 June. Petrograd [ 1870]

Because we thirst for you--greetings, little friend dyainka, and with a firm kiss--more greetings. And in your absence we have committed the sin of composing Penny Paradise, and it so happens that this Penny Paradise, as in a mirror, reflects the infamy of extremely important musical persons: and they, the darlings, are diversely named. And how they are called and why they are called, so and not otherwise--we beg you to listen. First of all among them, appears myself, a slave of the Lord, your own, dyainka, to lift the veil of paradisiac charms, causing said persons to pass in review, each with an appropriate accompaniment of musical harmonies--but never mind: it turns

-139-

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