IZ Letopis[i] moei muzykal’noi zhizni
EXCERPTS FROM My Musical Life
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) edited and published Musorgsky’s works.
. . .
Every Saturday evening, during the months of November and December 1861, I could be found at Balakirev’s, where I often met Musorgsky and Cui. It was also at Balakirev’s that I got to know V[ladimir] V[asilievich] Stasov.
On one occasion Musorgsky read Kniaz’ Kholmskii1 [Prince Kholmsky], and the painter Miasoedov read Vii by Gogol’. On other occasions, Balakirev would play either by himself or with Musorgsky four-hand piano arrangements of Schumann’s symphonies and Beethoven’s quartets. At times, Musorgsky sang something from Ruslan, such as the scene between Farlaf and Naina with A[leksandr] P[etrovich] Arsen’ev2 singing the role of Naina.
The circle’s taste leaned strongly toward Glinka, Schumann, and Beethoven’s last quartets. The group was rather indifferent toward eight of Beethoven’s symphonies and had little respect for Mendelssohn, except for the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Hebrides Overture, and the finale of the Octet.
Musorgsky’s symphonic endeavors, apparently composed in conformity to Balakirev’s directions and requests, never resulted in much of anything. At the time, Musorgsky’s only composition acknowledged by the circle was his chorus from Oedipus.3
In the winter of 1861-1862 the Balakirev circle was composed of Cui, Musorgsky, and myself. Beyond any question Balakirev was indispensable as an adviser, critic, editor, and teacher to Cui and Musorgsky. Without him they were unable to take one step forward.
For Musorgsky, although he was an excellent pianist [1861-1862], did not possess the remotest technical preparation to be a composer.4
During that spring , I went to Balakirev’s every Saturday. I waited for those evenings as if they were specially festive occasions. I also visited Cui frequently that spring. At the time he lived on Voskresenskii Prospect and was the head of a boarding school that prepared boys for military schools. Cui had two pianos, and each time I went, we played eight-hand arrangements. The pianists would be either Balakirev, Musorgsky, Musorgsky’s brother (Filaret Petrovich, who for some reason was usually addressed as Evgenii Petrovich5), Cui, or at times, Dmitrii Vasilievich Stasov. V[ladimir] V[asilievich] Stasov was also usually present. We played eight-hand piano arrangements of the scherzo Mab and The Feast at the Capulets by Berlioz,6 in Musorgsky’s arrangement, as well as the procession from King Lear by Balakirev in his own arrangement. We would play four-hand arrangements of the overtures to Kavkazskii Plennik [The prisoner of the Caucasus] and Syn Mandarina [The mandarin’s son], and also excerpts from my symphony as soon as they were finished.7 Musorgsky often joined Cui in singing excerpts from the latter’s operas. Musorgsky had a rather good baritone voice and he sang beautifully.
As for Musorgsky and Borodin, I considered them comrades rather than teachers like Balakirev and Cui.
To return to Musorgsky, although he was a beautiful pianist and an excellent singer (true, his voice had gotten weaker by that time), and even though two of his short pieces—a scherzo in B-flat major and the chorus from Oedipus—had already been publicly performed under A[nton] G[rigorievich] Rubinstein’s direction,8 he had little knowledge of orchestration; the compositions which had been performed had gone through Balakirev’s hands. Besides, he was a dilettante in music, and as he was working in some sort of ministry, he could only devote himself to music in his leisure.
I want to point out that in the sixties, Balakirev and Cui, even though they were very close to Musorgsky and sincerely loved him, treated him as a younger friend with little promise, in spite of his obvious talent. They felt that he lacked something, and in their opinion he needed their advice and criticism more than any of the others. Quite often Balakirev would say that Musorgsky “had no head” or that “his brains were weak.”9
Balakirev and Cui complemented each other, yet each in his own way felt himself mature and fully adult. As for Borodin, Musorgsky, and me, they thought we were immature and juvenile. Obviously our relation to Balakirev and Cui was somewhat that of subordinates. We unconditionally paid heed to their opinions, we would “put it in our pipes and smoke it,” and then put it into execution. On the other hand, realistically, Balakirev and Cui did not need our opinions.
During the 1866-1867 season I drew closer to Musorgsky and would visit him at his house, where he lived with his married brother, Filaret, near the Kashin Bridge. He played many excerpts of his Salammbô for me, and I was very much carried away by them. I am fairly sure that he played his fantasy “Ivanova noch’” [St. John’s night] for piano and orchestra, which had been inspired by Danse macabre. Later, the music of this fantasy, having undergone numerous metamorphoses, was utilized as the material for Noch’ na Lysoi gore [Night on bald mountain].10 He also played the charming Jewish choruses: Porazhenie Sennakheriba [The destruction of Sennakherib] and lisus Navin [Jesus Navin or Joshua] for me. He took the music for the latter piece from his opera Salammbô. The theme for the chorus was based on a song sung by Jews living in the same courtyard as he did and whom he had heard celebrating the Feast of the Tabernacle.11 Musorgsky also played for me songs which had not been successful with Balakirev and Cui. Among them were “Kalistrat” and the beautiful fantasy “Noch’ ” [Night], based on the Pushkin poem. The song “Kalistrat” was a precursor of his later realistic direction; and “Noch’ ” was more representative of the idealistic side of his talent, which he himself later vilified, though still occasionally drawing on its reserve of themes and motifs. He had accumulated this reserve in Salammbô and the Jewish choruses written at a time when he was not so concerned with the drab Russian peasant. I would like to point out that the greater part of his works in this idealistic style, for instance, Tsar Boris’s arias, the Pretender’s words while standing by the fountain, the chorus in the Boyars’ Duma, Boris’s death, and so forth, were all borrowed from Salammbô. This idealistic style lacked a proper crystal-clear finish and elegant form; the deficiency was the result of Musorgsky’s ignorance of harmony and counterpoint. Balakirev’s followers at first ridiculed these unnecessary sciences and then declared that they were beyond Musorgsky’s grasp. Consequently, he spent his life without that vital preparation, but to give him proper credit, he elevated that lack of knowledge into a heroic distinction, and as for the technique of the others, he changed that into routine conservatism. When he did succeed in creating a beautiful, liquid sequence that defied all preconceived opinions, he was very happy! I witnessed this more than once.12
When I would visit Musorgsky we could converse without restraint, free from Balakirev’s or Cui’s supervision. I was enthusiastic about the things he played for me and he was delighted, and would freely talk to me about his plans. He had more of them than I did.13
I saw him often. . . . We talked a lot about art, and he would play excerpts from his Salammbô for me or sing his most recently completed songs. . . .
Starting with the second half of the season, in the spring of 1868, the majority of the members of our circle began to meet almost every week, in the evening, at the home of A[leksandr] S[ergeevich] Dargomyzhsky, who had opened his doors to us. The progress on The Stone Guest was going very well. . . .
With each evening at A[leksandr] S[ergeevich]’s the work on The Stone Guest moved forward in an orderly fashion. It was immediately performed in the following manner: the author, who had an elderly and husky tenor voice, nevertheless sang the part of Don Juan himself, and he sang it beautifully. Musorgsky was Leporello and Don Carlos, Veliaminov was the monk and the Commendatore, A[leksandra] N[ikolaevna] Purgold was Laura and Donna Anna, and N[adezhda] N[ikolaevna] accompanied everyone on the piano. Often Musorgsky’s songs would be performed too (by the author and A[leksandra] N[ikolaevna] Purgold), as well as Balakirev’s songs, and Cui’s and mine. We would play my Sadko and Chukhonskaia fantaziia [Fantasy on Finnish themes] by Dargomyzhsky in four-hand piano versions, both rearranged by Nadezhda Nikolaevna. The evenings were highly captivating. . . .
At Balakirev’s and Musorgsky’s suggestion I set aside the composition of the Symphony in B minor for an indefinite period and turned to Antar, the beautiful fairy tale by Senkovskii (Baron Brambeus).
It was about the same time that the initial idea for an opera on Mey’s drama Pskovitianka [The maid of Pskov] was brought up. Once again it was Balakirev and Musorgsky who called it to my attention: they had a better knowledge of Russian literature than I did.14
As far as instrumentation was concerned, there were innovations as well as a delightful use of already proven devices: the low register for flutes and clarinets and so forth; the main theme of Antar had been given to the violas, if my memory serves me, in order to please Musorgsky, who was particularly fond of them.
In the beginning of the [1868-1869] season the evenings at Dargomyzhsky’s resumed. The Stone Guest was performed in its entirety. The Marriage15 also aroused a great deal of interest. Everyone was thunderstruck by Musorgsky’s subject, as well as ravished with the characters and his numerous recitative passages, and all were bewildered by some of the chords and the harmonic successions. During the performance, Musorgsky himself, with his unique and inimitable talent, sang Podkolesin, Aleksandra Nikolaevna sang Fyokla, and Veliaminov sang Stepan. Nadezhda Nikolaevna accompanied; and Dargomyzhsky, who was deeply interested in the work and had copied out the part of Kochkaryov in his own hand, performed it with enthusiasm.
I do not remember what Serov and Famintsyn wrote about Antar. After Sadko’s performance, Famintsyn lashed out at me with a censuring article, accusing me of having imitated Kamarinskaia (!!!) This gave Musorgsky the incentive to create his “Klassik” [The classicist], which ridiculed the critic of the sad countenance, and which was based on the words “Ia vrag noveishikh ukhishchrenii” [I am the enemy of the newest devices], in which a musical motif reminiscent of the sea in Sadko appeared.16 The performance of Musorgsky’s “The Classicist” was a solace for all of us and for Stasov in particular.
During the summer of 1871 Musorgsky either did not leave Petersburg at all, or if he did leave, it was only for a short period.17 I saw him very often, usually at my place. During one of his visits, I introduced him to my brother, who came to Petersburg for a short visit while on a sea voyage. Although my brother had been raised on the music of the brilliant epoch of Petersburg’s Italian opera, he listened with keen interest to excerpts from Boris Godunov, which Modest readily played for him, at his request.18 We often went to the Purgolds’, who at that time lived at No. 1 Pargolov, by the lake.
My life with Musorgsky [1871-1872] was, I assume, a singular example of two composers sharing quarters.19 How were we able to avoid disturbing one another? In the following way. In the morning, until noon, Musorgsky had the use of the piano while I either recopied or orchestrated something I had already worked out. About noon he went to his work at the ministry, and I had the use of the piano. In the evenings, things were worked out by mutual consent. Moreover, twice a week from nine o’clock in the morning I would be at the conservatory, while Musorgsky quite often had lunch at the Opochinins’;20 thus, everything turned out very well indeed. During that fall and winter, we both worked a lot and constantly exchanged ideas and plans. Musorgsky was in the midst of composing and orchestrating the Polish act for Boris Godunov and the folk scene “Pod Kromami” [At Kromy]. As for me I was orchestrating and completing The Maid of Pskov.
Napravnik was introduced to The Maid of Pskov one evening at Lukashevich’s,21 whither Musorgsky and I had been invited. Modest, who sang all the parts beautifully, helped me present the opera to those who were on hand. Of course, Napravnik did not voice his opinion but just congratulated us for our brilliant performance. Generally, at Krabbe’s22 and often at the Purgolds’, The Maid of Pskov, with piano accompaniment, would be performed by Musorgsky, who sang [Ivan] the Terrible, Tokmakov, and other male parts, depending on the need. . . .
Toward the end of the theater season [February 5, 1873], two scenes from Boris Godunov, the Scene at the Inn and the Scene by the Fountain, were put on stage for some sort of benefit performance.23 Petrov (Varlaam) was excellent; Platonova (Marina) and Kommissarzhevskii (Dmitrii) were also good. The scenes were enormously successful. Musorgsky and the rest of us were delighted, and it was suggested that the entire Boris should be staged in the coming year. After this performance, Musorgsky, Stasov, Aleksandra Nikolaevna, my wife’s sister (who in the fall of 1872, had married N[ikolai] P[avlovich] Molas), and others related to the world of music, gathered at our place.24 During dinner, champagne was drunk and wishes were expressed for the immediate production and success of the entire Boris.
Musorgsky, Borodin, and Stasov often met at our house. At that time, Musorgsky was already thinking about Khovanshchina.25
[At the concert for the benefit of the famine victims, held on February 18, 1874], the chorus from The Destruction of Sennakherib was performed partly with my orchestration. Musorgsky had composed a new trio for the chorus, one, by the way, that was much admired by Stasov, but since he did not have enough free time, he had asked me to do the instrumentation.
Musorgsky was already working on Khovanshchina. From the excerpts he played for our group of friends we particularly liked “Pliaski persidok” [The Persian dance], which he played beautifully.26
None of us knew the real subject and outline of Khovanshchina; and from Musorgsky’s stories, it was rather difficult to understand the plot as something complete and consistent. This was due to the fact that Musorgsky was then in the habit of expressing himself in a very florid, ornate, and intricate manner. Generally speaking, starting with the production of Boris, Musorgsky began to meet less frequently with our group; some sort of change had come over him: a certain secrecy and I would even say a certain haughtiness. His self-esteem had soared, and that obscure and abstruse way of speaking, which was already inherent in him, was greatly magnified. It was often impossible to understand his stories, his reasoning, or the pranks which were supposed to be witty. It is around this time that he started to stay at Malyi Iaroslavets and other restaurants until dawn, with a glass of brandy in his hand. He would either be by himself or in the company of new acquaintances and friends, who at the time were unknown to us. At lunchtime, either at our place or at the homes of mutual friends, Musorgsky almost completely refused alcohol, but later in the evening, he was drawn to Malyi Iaroslavets. Afterwards, one of his companions from those times, a man named V-ky, whom I had known since Tervaioki, told me that their group had a special saying: “prokon’iachitsa” [to “brandify” oneself] and that they put it into practice. The gradual decline of this highly talented author began about the time of the production of Boris. Gleams of powerful creativity lasted for a long time, but his mental ability to think logically slowly and gradually declined. Having retired from the ministry, he became a professional composer. Musorgsky began to write more slowly, in a fragmented way, losing the connection between the separate moments of creativity and scattering himself, at that, in too many directions.27
What was the reason for Musorgsky’s moral and intellectual collapse? To a great extent, at first, it was the influence of the success of Boris, which resulted in the blooming of its author’s pride and self-esteem; and then it was the opera’s plight. It was truncated, and the excellent scene at Kromy was deleted. About two years later, for God only knows what reason, the performances were totally discontinued, although the opera had always been successful and the performances by Petrov (and after his death by F[yodor] I[gnatievich] Stravinskii), Platonova, and Kommissarzhevskii were always beautiful. It was rumored that it was not to the liking of the imperial family; it was said that the censors did not like the subject. The outcome was that the opera, which had been performed for two or three years, was now taken out of the repertoire.28 On one hand, V[ladimir] Stasov’s admiration of Musorgsky’s brilliant outbursts of creativity and improvisations heightened Musorgsky’s self-importance; on the other hand, being worshipped by people who stood well below him but who were part of his friendly group of boon companions, and being so admired by others who were carried away by his talent as a performer but unable to distinguish a real gleam from a finely played phrase, he was pleased and his vanity was tickled. Even the bartender of the tavern knew Boris and Khovanshchina almost by heart and worshipped Musorgsky’s talent.29 But the Russian Musical Society did not give Musorgsky any recognition; in the theater they betrayed him, although externally they were civil to him. His friends Borodin, Cui, and I, loving him as before and delighted with what was good, were yet critical of many a thing. The press—with Laroche, Rostislav, and others—abused him. Under such conditions, his passion for cognac and sitting until dawn in the tavern grew and grew. For his new friends “to brandify oneself” was of no consequence, but for his highly strung nature it was pure poison. Although remaining friendly to me, as well as to Cui and Borodin, Musorgsky began to look at me with some suspicion. My studies in harmony and counterpoint, which had begun to interest me, were not to his liking. I had the impression that he suspected me of being a retarded scholastic professor who was still capable of exposing him in parallel fifths—quite an unpleasant idea for him.30 As for the Conservatory, he could not stand it.31 His feelings for Balakirev had long cooled down. At the time, Balakirev no longer appeared on our horizon; but earlier he used to say that Modest had a great talent, but that his “brains were weak.” And he, having suspected Musorgsky of a penchant toward alcohol, had already distanced himself from him.32
The year 1874 could be considered the beginning of Musorgsky’s decline, a slow process which continued until the day of his death.33
[In 1876] I began reworking The Maid of Pskov. My first thought was to reintroduce the prologue, which had been completely deleted even though it played a very important part in Mey’s drama.
I began work on it and within a year and half, i.e., in approximately January 1878, the whole task was completed.
The prologue, played entirely on the piano, was performed at our place, with Vera’s part sung by A[leksandra] N[ikolaevna] Molas, Nadezhda’s by O. I. Veselevoskaia (one of the active members of the Free Music School), and the part of the boyar Sheloga by Musorgsky. Cui, Musorgsky, and Stasov praised the prologue but with reservations. Balakirev was indifferent to it as well as to the entire opera in its new version, except for the pilgrims’ chorus, the storm, and the final chorus. Musorgsky, Cui, and Stasov approved the other changes and additions to The Maid of Pskov, although they responded to the opera in its new form with restraint and coolness.34
We invited Musorgsky to participate in our joint writing. He tried and even composed some sort of galop or something similar and played it for us. But he had diverged from the original plan and had changed the recurring motif, so the result was different. We pointed that out to him. His answer was that he did not have any intention of fatiguing his brains. Therefore, his participation in our joint composition came to nought.35
At a rehearsal of a scene from Boris Godunov Musorgsky behaved in an odd way.36 Was it due to the influence of alcohol, or was it on account of striking a pose, an inclination to which he was more and more given? In those times he would often act in an eccentric way and would frequently use unclear and confusing language. At this rehearsal, he pretentiously listened to the playing, for the most part admiring the execution by individual instruments, often while they were playing the tritest and most insignificant musical phrases. He would pensively lower his head or proudly raise it, or shake it; or he would raise his hand in a theatrical gesture, a gesture which had become usual with him. At the end of the scene, when the tomtom representing the ringing of a monastery bell rang pianissimo, Musorgsky bowed deeply, respectfully crossing his arms on his chest. This dress rehearsal took place before the choir practice held at the home of V[ladimir] I[vanovich] Vasil’ev the First, the artist who sang Pimen’s part. I was studying my part while I accompanied them. After the practice, there was a dinner during which the master of the house got very intoxicated and talked nonsense. Musorgsky was fine.
The first stage performance of my opera Maiskaia Noch’ [May night],37 had an indifferent success in our circle.
At that time Musorgsky began to show his indifference toward everyone else’s music, and his reaction to the ring dance was colder than usual. He made wry faces in general and said that there was something wrong with May Night. Apparently, my tendency to create a more melodious and rounded form was not very pleasant for the circle; besides I truly scared them with my studies in counterpoint and they became somewhat prejudiced toward me.
During 1879-1880, I again made arrangements for a season of four concerts to be held by the Free Music School in the Kononov Hall.
The excerpts from Khovanshchina which were performed during the second concert38 had not all been orchestrated by their author. The Streltsy chorus and Marfa’s song belonged entirely to Musorgsky’s pen; but I had orchestrated the “Persian Dance.” Musorgsky had promised to have this number ready for the concert but had procrastinated; in the end, I offered to orchestrate it. He immediately gave his approval, and when it was performed, he was very satisfied with my work, although I had made many changes in his harmony and voice leading.
Among the soloists who participated in the School’s concerts that year, in addition to several operatic artists, we had Shostakovskii, who played Liszt’s concerto in E-flat major (which went rather well), and D[ar’ia] M[ikhailovna] Leonova, who sang excerpts from Khovanshchina,39
It had been several years since Leonova had left the imperial stage, and after a trip to Japan, she was now living in Petersburg, giving singing lessons. She had established these lessons on a grand scale, having founded something like a small school of music. Leonova was a talented artist who formerly had a good contralto voice, but as she virtually never had any formal musical education, she hardly possessed the skills to teach the techniques of singing.40 In her own singing, once in a while there would be something of the gypsy. But in dramatic and comic parts she was often inimitable. And with that aspect of her talent, she was naturally able to be of use to her students. But for the beginners this was not enough; therefore, among her many students, only one, the tenor Donskoi, became an artist at the Moscow Opera. She mainly worked with songs and excerpts from operas. She needed an accompanist, a musician who could supervise the proper study of a piece, something that she herself was unable to do. Musorgsky became her maestro.41 In those years, as he had been long retired, he needed money. Leonova’s classes provided him with a certain financial support. He spent quite a lot of time teaching those classes, even giving lessons in elementary theory; and he composed exercises for Leonova’s students in the form of trios and quartets, with terrible voice leading.
Leonoya was an artist who liked to talk a lot about herself, her qualities and merits. Although her voice had aged significantly, she did not realize it; and she would proudly tell how this artist, or that one, or someone famous had marveled at her voice, which, according to her, had become stronger and wider in range with the passing years. She said that a plaster mold of her throat had been sent to Paris and that everybody there was awed by it. According to her, the only true school of singing was her own. She said that contemporary artists did not know how to sing, and that earlier times were better, and so on, i.e., the usual statement by an aging artist. Her lover, someone named Gridnin, author of some kind of dramatic play, was her business manager and was in charge of her publicity.42
Musorgsky’s association with her was, to a certain extent, important to her as publicity. Naturally, his duties in her classes were mediocre, but he did not realize it, or at least tried not to be aware of it.
During the summer of 1880, Leonova made a concert tour of southern Russia.43 Musorgsky was not only the accompanist but also piano soloist in the concerts. Although since his youth Musorgsky had been an excellent pianist, he did not practice seriously and he did not possess a real repertoire. In his later years, he very often appeared as an accompanist to singers in Petersburg’s concerts. The singers liked him very much and highly valued his accompaniment. He followed the voice beautifully, sight-reading the music, without any rehearsal. But on his trip with Leonova, he was to appear as a piano soloist. For this occasion he had a rather strange repertoire: for example, during his provincial concerts, he performed the introduction to Ruslan and Ludmila in an improvised arrangement or he played the ringing of the bells from his Boris.44 Musorgsky and Leonova toured many of the cities of southern Russia; they even had the opportunity to go to Crimea. Influenced by the landscape of the southern shores, he wrote two short pieces for piano “Gurzuf” and “Na iuzhnom beregu” [On the southern shore], which were published by Bernard on his return. Both pieces were far from being fully successful. In addition I remember how, in our house, he played a rather long and quite confusing fantasy supposed to represent a storm on the Black Sea. This fantasy remained unwritten and has now disappeared forever.
Anatoly Liadov was delighted with my opera Snegurochka [The snow maiden]. Musorgsky listened to only a couple excerpts, and for some reason, he was not interested in hearing the entire work; he did praise some passages but all in all he remained totally indifferent to my composition. I really should not have expected otherwise: on the one hand, there was his proud self-conceit and the conviction that the path he had chosen in art was the only true one; and on the other, there was his near-total collapse, his alcoholism, and, as a result of that, a constantly befuddled mind.
For the 1880-1881 season, four concerts were advertised by the Free Music School and were to be held in the Hall of the Municipal Credit Society. Only the first one took place, on February 3, 1881, and Cross and Stravinsky took part in it. Among the choral pieces, Musorgsky’s chorus from The Destruction of Sennakherib was performed. He was present at the concert and came out to acknowledge the audience’s applause.
This concert was Musorgsky’s last occasion to hear his work performed in public. About a month later, Musorgsky was placed in the hospital following an attack of delirium tremens. Dr. L[ev] B[ernardovich] Bertenson had him admitted and took care of him. On hearing about Musorgsky’s misfortune, we—Borodin, Stasov, I, and many others—began visiting the patient. My wife and her sister A[leksandra] N[ikolaevna] Molas also visited him. He had changed, he was terribly weak, and his hair was greying. He was very happy with our visits and sometimes conversed with us in a completely normal way, but then suddenly he would lapse into insane gibberish. This state of affairs lasted for a few weeks; finally, on March 16, he died during the night, apparently of cardiac arrest. His strong constitution turned out to have been completely shattered by alcohol. On the eve of his death, we—all his close friends—had visited him during the day and had stayed rather a long time talking with him. He was buried, as is known, in the Aleksandr Nevskii Monastery. V[ladimir] V[asilievich] Stasov and I arranged the funeral.45
After Musorgsky’s death, all his remaining manuscripts and drafts were given to me so that they could be put in order, finished, and readied for publication. . . . All of the material was in a very unpolished state; there were absurd, incoherent harmonies, hideous voice leading, sometimes strikingly illogical modulations, sometimes no modulation at all, or unfortunate instrumentation of orchestrated pieces. Generally, it was all a kind of insolent, self-conceited dilettantism; at times, there were moments of real technical dexterity and skill, but more often than not there was a total absence of technical mastery. Notwithstanding all these drawbacks, in the majority of cases, the compositions were so talented and original and they contributed so much that was new and lively that their publication was a must.
The Balakirev circle was composed of technically weak musicians, almost amateurs, who carved the road to the future exclusively by the force of their creative talent, a force which at times was a substitute for technique, and, as was sometimes the case with Musorgsky, the force was not powerful enough to conceal its defects.