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

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Déclamateur

. . . In 1874 [ 1875], being one evening at Camille Saint-Saëns's, who had just returned from a tour to Moscow, I happened to lay hands on a score of Boris Godunov. As I leafed through it, reading with increasing interest the pages of a composer unknown to me, Saint-Saëns uttered the pronouncement that "all the ridiculous criticisms usually addressed to Wagner could be applied exactly to Musorgsky."

The rapid reading that I was able to make prevented me from concurring with this opinion; and two or three weeks later, having gone again to Camille Saint-Saëns's, I took away the score to study it at leisure. Later I attempted, on several occasions, to share with my friends this admiration of mine, which grew endlessly for this music, whose formula was so strangely new. But everywhere I met nothing but scorn, sneers and indifference. Decidedly, Saint-Saëns was not the only one of his opinion, and quantities of "the musically eminent," whose authority is law, agreed with him on this point: "Musorgsky is nothing but a fool, an obscure and grotesque déclamateur." . . .--

JULES DE BRAYER


161. To ARSENI GOLENISHCHEV-KUTUZOV

My dear friend Arseni, whatever happens, my own, we absolutely must meet, drag yourself along with your little children [poems], "it is not for me to be a stranger--it is nothing but the lure of loving hearts." How much business, how much disgust and dissipation, and hopes--great desires (terrible to utter!)--and you, my own, you haven't acted properly. What happened to you? Shall I open myself? All right--listen: you are loved by me, with you I feel at ease; do not bow to the Prince of the Earth, but hold your head higher and remember: verily, is it so? This day Wednesday (December 10) we await you--when you will grant us your presence, and kindly bring your good offspring; how fond I am of talking with them.

Come when you wish: come, if you wish and we love you--I repeat this.

Yours, without any doubt,

MODESTE MUSORGSKY

9-10 December, Night, '75

Under the impression of your first verses for the subject "Danse macabre" there is something,--I speak of the theme of "The Exile."54

MUSORGSKY

____________________
54
A draft of these verses for an unused subject in Songs and Dances of Death was found among the poet's papers--the ship bringing a political exile home

-320-

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