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

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

108. To POLYXENA STASOVA, Bad Reichenhall

Petrograd, 26 July, '73. Shpalernaya No. 6

My dear and nicest lady, yesterday's visit to the Melikhov house created a certain perturbation in my musical, perhaps, but certainly disorderly brains; my epistle to you will get stuck in Vienna and won't catch up with you, despite all the steam I raised in regard to Khovanshchina, whose construction boils; and how it boils; this sorrow turned to joy when I learned that the généralissime is not going to Vienna, that this excursion was forbidden to him by those who love him (I implored him not to go to Vienna); but as for my dear lady, I think I shall write to her--after all I'll find the lady somewhere in Europe. So I do this: this joy changed and turned topsy-turvy when I learned that our dear Vityushka Hartmann had died in Moscow of an aneurysm.71 Grief, grief! O greatly suffering Russian art! During Victor Hartmann's last visit to Petrograd, the two of us took a walk, after some music, along Furshtadtskaya Street; at one of the by-streets he stopped, paled, leaned against the wall of some house, and couldn't catch his breath. At that time I didn't attach much importance to the incident and only asked him: did this sort of thing happen to him often (yes, often), fooled with him with some sort of nonsense, I distracted his mind for a time from that which the mind didn't realize, and we went on, at first at a slow pace, and then in a normal manner. Having myself experienced shortness of breath and heart palpitations (the absurd "palpitatio cordis"), I thought that this is the fate of nervous natures mostly, but, as it appeared, I was bitterly mistaken, as it turned out, even in better days, when Hartmann's talent so gushed out that it was impossible to approach him. I remember (how can I ever forget!) my last talk with him: he was cheering me with a project for a building in Russian style, although adapted to the demands of the times, still a Russian style, as he loved to say--"well-bred." He was already bringing his project to life, his brains were busy with plans for the building of a house in Russian style for Mamontov, in Moscow. Whether Hartmann finished this work--I don't know; this talentless fool of a death mows on, without considering whether there is any necessity for his accursed visit. Little did I expect that I should have to send a brief

____________________
71
On July 23, 1873, at Mamontov's country estate near Kireyevo--at the age of forty-one.

-229-

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