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

theatrical production in 4 acts on a subject taken from the Elb Slavs and had commissioned V. A. Krylov to develop the text. Mlada, with its fantastic and genre scenes, appeared a most grateful subject for a musical portrayal. Gedeonov offered the composition of this music to Cui, Borodin, Musorgsky and myself; moreover the purely ballet numbers were to be composed by Minkus, the official ballet composer of the Imperial Theatres. From where this order originated, I do not know. I presume here the influence of Lukashevich . . . I also assume that this affair would not have happened without V. V. Stasov's participation. The four of us were invited to Gedeonov's for a joint discussion on the work. Act I, as the most dramatic, was entrusted to the most dramatic composer--Cui; Act IV, a mixture of the dramatic and the elemental, was entrusted to Borodin; Acts II and III were distributed between Musorgsky and me. Some portions of Act II (folk choruses) were assigned to me; and in Act III, I was given the first half: the flight of the ghosts and the appearance of Mlada; while Musorgsky undertook the second half--the appearance of the Black God, into which he wanted to fit his Night on Bald Mountain, which had been left inactive . . . --NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV


83. To VLADIMIR ST ASOV

MY DEAR,

You don't complain that I did not answer your letter, and this troubles me; this event occurred because our writing table looks like the Augean stables and only now was I able to find a scrap of paper. How delightful you are--this you know. And that I don't stop kissing you, that you also know. I am sending the requisition to Repin this very day,92 but Mlada!

And beyond the damp sepulchre
There is no peace for me*
From her, the dear departed (read "still-born").

It's a shame to take my pen to picture "Saganu, hush!" and such rot, written by somebody, sometime, perhaps, with a drunken eye and brain93--and I am expected to be inspired by these fumes of delirium

____________________
*
Musorgsky's note: Who is "beyond the damp sepulchre"--the author of the text [ Victor Krylov] or Mlada or both? Decide yourself.
92
Bessel wanted an impressive cover on the Nursery album and Musorgsky was asking Repin to design one.
93
This "drunken" text, or an expansion of it, was brought, along with the "Bald Mountain" music, into the later Fair at Sorochintzi, and there dignified with this note in the score: "The text for this part of the scene was borrowed from Sakharov's collection. M. Musorgsky." This source, Narratives of the Russiantremens

-181-

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