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

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

157. To LUDMILA SHESTAKOVA

Extremely important The same place '74 [1875?], 29 October at night

My little dove, my dear, what a wonderful epistle you sent me. On Saturday I'll be with you, my own, as you command: yes, time doesn't wait. A great Russian festival, a great sermon to all Russians, on whom the Lord has bestowed a love of art, no matter in what sphere--this is what pleases my modest soul at the imminent, half-century jubilee of Osip Afanasyevich Petrov, my priceless grandpa.45 I can understand how joyful it must be for you, little dove, when an affair thought up long ago, by you alone, is now boiling and overflowing, and "adding flesh and strength" to every good Russian. Why linger! Let each do what he can.--Were your brother-genius Glinka now alive, what would he be feeling in these approaching blessed moments, when Petrov, in his declining days, full of strength and inspiration, a Susanin [in A Life for the Tzar]--no ordinary peasant, no: an idea, a legend, a mighty creation of inevitability (perhaps historical at that time)--would suddenly appear before the spectators and by the sheer strength of his inspiration would turn our present miserable world head over heels, which is not only unable to prevent the Turk from strangling those who wear the cross, but is even unconscious of itself. The entrance of grandpa Petrov as Susanin is, to my mind, the entrance of Susanin (the idea) in Petrov. Once more we shall hear and see our ever-beloved Glinka--the great teacher-founder (in time to come) of the great school of Russian music. Bearing on his Homeric shoulders almost all that has been composed in [Russian] dramatic music from the 30's of the nineteenth century, Petrov, the titan, must not dare to doubt that if the ancient Greeks knew how to adorn their great men with the chaplet of victory, the Russians (no matter how servile they have become) will also know how to discern and recognize a master. Forgive this ferment of anger, forgive it with good humor: it applies to the miserable ones who are going to declare in all the cafés, restaurants, at the crossroads, at every spot where the impudent devil pokes them: Haven't you been at the festival in honor of Petrov?

____________________
45
This jubilee, which was planned for April 21 of the following year, was the fiftieth anniversary of Petrov's career, which he had begun four years previous to his debut in 1830 at the Marinsky Opera as Sarastro in Die Zauberflôte. His first great Russian role was that of Susanin in Glinka Life for the Tzar, which was staged on November 27, 1836.

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