So I went back to my tenor and told him that I hadn't found Musorgsky at home . . .
In the meantime I located one of my colleagues who agreed to stand guard over Musorgsky and bring him to the concert in plenty of time.
Sure enough, Modeste Petrovich showed up promptly at 7 at Kononov's hall where the concert was to take place.
Musorgsky, unfortunately, remained long enough in the greenroom to sample all the drinks on the table there, growing drunker and drunker. Suddenly my Italian tenor, after trying some runs, decided that his voice was a little strained and would therefore be compelled to sing his entire program a half or even a whole tone lower than usual.
This was all we needed.
I rushed to Musorgsky to ask him whether he could do this Kunststück for Ravelli. Rising from his chair with a certain gallantry, Musorgsky calmed me with the words: "Pourquoi pas?" (apparently Musorgsky spoke only French with cultured people, even when he was drunk).
To prove his assuring words he suggested that the tenor at once run through his whole program mezza-voce.
Musorgsky, who was probably hearing all Ravelli's Italian stuff for the first time, so charmed the Italian with his refined performance and his ability to transpose to any key that the tenor embraced him, saying repeatedly: "Che artista!" . . . --VASILI BERTENSSON
Vas. Ostr. 5th line, No. 10
[ December 25, 1876]
MY DEAR généralissime,
I have a petition to place before you. On the corner of Nevsky Prospect and that square where the Mikeshin bell29 is always about to fall, there is a building [the Public Library], and on the roof of that building sits Minerva. Good friends of mine wish to get inside that building and furthermore, into that very department where Your Grace holds sway. I have the honor to introduce my friends: Maria Izmailovna Fyodorova (it is under this lady's hospitable roof that Musoryanin lives), Pavel Alexandrovich Naumov, little Sergei Naumov --in other words, the family where this sinner is cherished. As you, my dear, have never denied people your shining love and keen knowledge, I, Musoryanin, ask you, but only if it doesn't in the least inconvenience you, to arrange this visit to you at the Library on Monday, December 27. I should like to be with my friends when they come to____________________