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

146. To LUBOV KARMALINA, Fortress Zakatali

Peterburg, Shpalernaya No. 6

20 April, '75

MY DEAR LADY LUBOV IVANOVNA.

It seems to be my fate--to go on asking your pardon. More than one person would be broken by such a command [as yours]. I am fearful but not afraid. Your unceasing artistic participation in the affairs of art encourages me and reconciles me to myself--and, I dare say, convinces me of the strength and might of true friends of art.--All that you send me, Lubov Ivanovna, "will not die as long as I live," but will be turned over to the people.

Afraid to thank you: for what? for your artistic vocation? for your incessant thought to preserve the people's creativeness? That, which you do, loving art, will be beloved by history, and it is not for me, Musorgsky, to thank you, but for someone greater and more important than myself. Honor to you and glory, Lubov Ivanovna!

The songs of the Volyn region, from the 11 you sent, carry an impression of history in the majority: No. 1 ( "I Shall Sow the Sage- Grass"), 3 ( "Along the Shores, the Sweet Shores"), 4 ( "I Stood under the Hazel-Tree"), 5 ( "Wave, Dry Oak-Tree"), 9 ( "Oh, What a Little Garden"), 10 ( "Rustle Not, O Meadow") and 11 ( "The Mother Made Ready Her Son for the Journey").22

And in respect to my musical raids--for the sake of discovery I am firmly standing by Khovanshchina. Many questions have already cropped up; not a few of the questions show themselves, like tiny buds hidden in a mass of foliage; but these must be nourished, in order for the tree to become more beautiful, and to give shelter to a greater number of people. It is difficult, but it has to be thus! I have given up the Little-Russian opera: the reason for this renunciation--the impossibility of a Great-Russian to pose as a Little-Russian, and therefore the impossibility of mastering the Little-Russian recitative, that is, all the shades and peculiarities of musical contours in Little-Russian speech. I prefer to lie less and speak truth the more. In genre opera the recitatives must be approached even more severely than in historical opera, for in the former there is no large historical event, covering, like a curtain, whatever inaccuracies and faults there may be; for this reason masters who don't sufficiently command recitative

____________________
22
The use planned for these songs is obscure. No traces of them have appeared among Musorgsky's papers. Were they "turned over to the people"?

-296-

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