1. In the fall of 1852 Musorgsky entered the Cadet School of the Imperial Guards, which had been founded in 1823 and reorganized in 1838. His elder brother, Filaret, had entered the school the year before. From 1849 to 1851, Musorgsky had studied in a German school (Petrischule), and from 1851 to 1852 he was at a preparatory boarding school run by A. Komarov.
2. We ought to make some corrections to the description of the school as given by Kompaneiskii. According to the memoirs by the famous traveler-geographer P. Semyonov-Tashanskii, who had graduated from the School in 1845, General Sutgof was far from being the uncouth “martinet” described by Kompaneiskii. He was an educated man, fluent in German and French, and an expert in French history. He valued education and saw to it that the School had the best teachers and that the pupils made progress. The Cadet School of the Imperial Guards was one of the best educational institutes in Petersburg. The teaching program was well organized according to the standards of the time; and the highly qualified teachers knew how to stimulate the pupils’ inquisitiveness and their yearning for knowledge. The curriculum was extensive, ranging from humanities and foreign languages to special military disciplines. In the year before Musorgsky entered the School, the literature instructor, A. Komarov, resigned from the School of Guards. (He was a friend of Gogol’s and Belinskii’s, and it was in his preparatory school that Musorgsky had studied.) Among the instructors were the famous professors Sukhomlinov and Perevlevskii (who replaced Komarov and whom Musorgsky would later remember with gratitude). All these positive sides of the educational life were combined with the life Kompaneiskii described (see P. Semyonov-Tashanskii, Memuary [Memoirs], vol. 1, Petrograd, 1917).
3. See below, note 1 of F. Musorgsky’s recollections.
4. From Musorgsky’s early works, only Porte-enseigne Polka, for piano, has been preserved. It was composed in 1852 and dedicated to his comrades at the School (see note 1 of F. Musorgsky).
5. Musorgsky recalls the priest Kirill Krupskii as follows: “While in the School I often visited Father Krupskii, our religion instructor . . . thanks to him I was able to get to the core of ancient religious music—Greek, Catholic, Lutheran.” (Autobiographical note in M. Musorgskii Literaturnoe nasledie. Pis’ma i avtobiograficheskie materialy [Literary heritage. Letters and autobiographical material] Moscow, 1971, p. 267.)
6. Musorgsky finished the School of Guards in the summer of 1856 and enlisted in the reserve of the Preobrazhenskii Regiment. In October of the same year, when the reserve regiment was dismissed, he was transferred to the Preobrazhenskii Regiment.
7. Musorgsky retired in the summer of 1858 because he had decided to dedicate himself wholly to music (see below, V. Stasov’s recollections).
8. Stasov sheds light on the time Musorgsky spent in the Regiment by providing information on the musical interests of the Regiment.
9. The chorus of Porazhenie Sennakheriba [The destruction of Sennacherib], based on Byron’s verses, was composed in 1867. It was performed for the first time on March 6 of that year at a concert of the Free Music School under Balakirev’s direction.
10. Kompaneiskii repeats the generally accepted legends about Musorgsky’s illiteracy and his inability to work systematically. The first was rejected a long time ago by history, and the second one is refuted by the composer’s letters and his Autobiographical Note.
11. Anton Rubinstein’s opera Demon, based on Lermontov’s poem, had its premiere in the Mariinskii Theater on January 13, 1875.
12. A musical prank composed in 1870 for voice and piano with a text by Musorgsky. It ridiculed Petersburg music critics Rostislav (Feofil Tolstoi’s penname), A. Serov, and A. Famintsyn.
13. Final chorus of Glinka’s opera Zhizn’ za tsaria [A life for the Tsar]. It was performed by Musorgsky on a piano built by the Petersburg master piano builder Virt.
14. “Molitva devy” [The virgin’s prayer], a popular piano piece by T. Bondarzhevskaia-Baranovskaia, was performed in the salons of that time.
15. Between 1862 and 1866 Musorgsky was composing the opera Salammbô, based on Flaubert’s novel. The following passages have been preserved: Act 1, Scene 1— “The song of the Balearic Islander”; Act 2, Scene 2—in the Temple of Tanita in Carthage; Act 3, Scene 1—in front of the temple of Molokh (the glorification of Molokh); Act 4, Scene 1—in the dungeon of the Acropolis, the prison in the cliff, Mato in chains; Act 4, Scene 2—“The women’s chorus.” Later on Musorgsky used parts of the Salammbô music for Boris Godunov.
16. A. Serov’s opera Iudif’ [Judith] was staged at the Mariinskii Theater in May 1863.
17. Musorgsky did not take voice lessons per se. According to the recollections of his contemporaries, he had a very pleasant, but not strong, baritone voice.
18. Aleksandr Serov (1820-1871) was a critic and a composer. In his youth, he was a friend of Stasov’s; he was close to Balakirev. Later he became an implacable enemy of the composers belonging to the Balakirev circle. Serov disapproved of Musorgsky’s chorus so severely that his review of the concert in which it was performed for the first time did not even mention its title.
19. There is absolutely no information about Musorgsky’s comrades who were “burning out their lives in endless carousing.” The only aristocrat who was a friend to Musorgsky was A. Golenishchev-Kutuzov, who was much younger than the composer (see his recollections below and the notes pertaining to them). Besides, it is known that Golenishchev-Kutuzov was not a debaucher. Kompaneiskii himself speaks in the following paragraphs about Musorgsky’s tragedy. The subsequent story about the staging of Boris Godunov is also based on rumors and is told inaccurately.
20. There is no information about the soirees with the “renowned composer.” Most likely this also lies in the realm of gossip and legend. Corroboration for this assumption can also be found in the distorted information about Musorgsky’s participation in the concerts. The singers valued Musorgsky very highly; furthermore, he never refused to participate in charity concerts for the students, and he performed willingly. There is no connection whatsoever between his performances as a popular accompanist and his alcoholism.
21. Apparently Kompaneiskii is talking about Pyotr Stepanovich Chaikovskii. The episode he describes never happened.
22. Kompaneiskii apparently visited Musorgsky at the end of February.
23. O. Petrov died February 28, 1878.
Stasov’s recollections of Musorgsky were taken from several works by Stasov:
The biographical essay “Modest Petrovich Musorgskii,” first published in the journal Vestnik Evropy [The European herald], May 1881, pp. 285-316, and June 1881, pp. 506-545. It has often been reprinted, most recently in V. Stasov, Stat’ o muzyke [Articles on music], 3d ed. (Moscow, 1977).
“M. P. Musorgsky’s Obituary,” published in the newspaper Golos [Voice], no. 76, March 17, 1881; reprinted in Articles on Music.
“Perov i Musorgskii” [Perov and Musorgsky], originally published in the journal Russkaia Starina [Russian olden times], May 1883, pp. 433-458; reprinted in Articles on Music.
The pamphlet “Pamiati Musorgskogo” [In honor of the memory of Musorgsky], written for the unveiling of the monument on the composer’s grave on November 27, 1885. After some minor changes it was published in the journal Istoricheskii vestnik [The historical herald], March 1886, pp. 644-656; reprinted in Articles on Music.
“Dvadtsat’ pisem Turgeneva i moyo znakomstvo s nim” [Twenty letters of Turgenev and our acquaintanceship], first published in Severnyi vestnik [Northern herald] 10 :148; reprinted in A. Orlova, Musorgsky’s Days and Works, p. 140.
The letter to N. Findeizen appeared in translation in A. Orlova, p. 191.
1. Stasov’s memory fails him: Musorgsky retired in 1858. On May 1, he requested that he be relieved “because of family circumstances,” and on June 11, his resignation was accepted by an order of the Preobrazhenskii Regiment. (A. Orlova, M. P. Musorgsky’s Days and Works: A Biography in Documents [Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1983], pp. 65-66.)
2. Lermontov was at the School of the Imperial Guards before its reorganization. He left the School in 1834.
3. Dargomyzhsky’s opera Kamennyi gost’ [The stone guest]. It was based on the unaltered text of a “small tragedy” by Pushkin. When he started to compose the opera Dargomyzhsky wrote: “I am trying to do something unbelievable: to write music based on The Stone Guest—as it is, without changing a single word” (letter to L. Karmalina, dated July 17, 1866, in A. S. Dargomyzhskii, Avtobiografia. Pis’ma, Vospominaniia sovremennikov. [Autobiography. Letters. Memoirs of his contemporaries], Petersburg, 1921, p. 119). Musorgsky admired the author of The Stone Guest and he dedicated the first number of his Detskaia [The nursery] (“Ditia s nianei”) [With Nursey] to Dargomyzhsky with the words “To the great teacher of Musical Truth.”
4. The Balakirev circle was also known as “Novaia Russkaia Shkola” [New Russian school] or “Moguchaia Kuchka” [The Mighty Handful]. The latter name came from an article by V. Stasov, “Slavianskii kontsert g. Balakireva” [Mr. Balakirev’s Slavic concert], about a concert held during the ethnographic exhibition in 1867. Stasov expressed the wish that the Slavic guests would “forever remember the poetry, the feeling, the talent, and the skill of the small but already mighty handful of Russian composers.” At first, enemies of the movement used this expression ironically, but later it became common usage.
5. This song is based on verses by Polezhaev.
6. Cui’s opera William Ratcliff, based on Heine’s work, was composed between 1868 and 1871 and performed in the Mariinskii Theater in 1869. This opera, as well as most of Cui’s other works, is forgotten. The only song by Cui which is still remembered is “Sozhzhyonnoe pis’mo” [The burnt letter], based on Pushkin’s poem.
7. Rimsky-Korsakov was a Cadet in the Naval Academy from 1856 to 1862. He was introduced to the Balakirev circle in the fall of 1861 by a friend of Balakirev, the famous piano teacher F. Kanille, with whom Rimsky-Korsakov was studying. Rimsky-Korsakov had his first lesson in composition with Balakirev. Later he wrote: “Not only had Balakirev never had a systematic course in harmony and counterpoint . . . he, apparently, did not even recognize any need for these studies. . . . He was an excellent pianist, an outstanding reader of music, a fine improvisor, gifted by nature with a sense of correct harmony and voice-leading; he possessed a composing technique which was partly a natural gift and partly due to practicing his own attempts at composition. He had all the qualities required of a composer. He owed this to his enormous musical erudition, which was reinforced by his unusual, keen, and durable memory. . . . As a critic, a critic of technique, he was astonishing. He immediately grasped an imperfection of form . . . and he would, at once, sit at the piano and, improvising, show how to correct or change the composition. Due to his despotic character, he demanded that a given composition be redone exactly as he had indicated; and often, entire passages of works written by someone else belonged to him and not to the real author. He was unquestioningly obeyed since he had an extremely forceful personality. . . . However, despite his intelligence and brilliant abilities there was one thing he did not understand: what was good for him in the matter of musical education was far from good for the others. . . . Furthermore, he tyrannically demanded that his pupils’ taste correspond exactly to his own.” (N. Rimskii-Korsakov, Letopisy moei zhizni [My musical life] [Moscow 1955], pp. 17-18.)
8. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Symphony in E-flat minor was performed for the first time on December 19, 1865, at a concert of the Free Music School. It was conducted by Balakirev and was extremely successful. Chronologically this work was the first Russian classical symphony, although it was not a landmark in the history of music. As a rule, the Russian composers of symphonies are Tchaikovsky (the first two movements of his First Symphony were played in 1867; in 1868 it was performed in its entirety) and Borodin (his First Symphony was heard in 1869).
9. Stasov enumerates Rimsky-Korsakov’s songs based on poems by L. Mei, A. Kol’tsov, N. Shcherbin, and L. Afanas’ev. The symphonic picture Sadko was created in 1867 and performed for the first time that year. The theme for Sadko had been given by Stasov to Balakirev; Balakirev gave the same topic to Musorgsky, who, in turn, suggested it to Rimsky-Korsakov. The programmatic symphony Antar (Symphony No. 2) was at first to be a symphonic poem; it was based on a fairy tale by the famous Russian orientalist Osip Senkovskii. It was composed in 1868 and had its first performance in 1869.
10. About Borodin’s First Symphony see note 8. His songs “Falshivaia nota” [The false note] and “Spiashchaia Krasavitsa” [The sleeping beauty] were based on his own texts. The first one was dedicated to Musorgsky.
11. During these years Musorgsky composed the following songs and romances: “Zhelanie” [Desire], to words by Heine, “Svetik Savishna” [Darling Savishna], “Seminarist” [The seminarian], “Ozornik” [The mischievous one], “Kozyol” [The he-goat], “Klassik” [The classicist], “Sirotka” [The orphan], to his own text, and “Evreiskaia Pesnia” [Hebrew song], based on words by L. Mei.
12. “Svetik Savishna” [Darling Savishna] was written in September 1866.
13. Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) was a pianist of genius, a talented conductor and composer, and a prominent figure in the social and musical world. He played an exceptional role in Russian musical life as the founder of the Russian Musical Society and of the Petersburg Conservatory. Tchaikovsky was one of his students.
14. See the introductions to their memoirs in the present volume.
15. Musorgsky nicknamed the elder sister “Donna Anna Laura” and the younger one “our dear orchestra.”
16. Osip Petrov (1807-1878) was an outstanding Russian bass. See the memoirs of N. Kompaneiskii and L. Shestakova in this volume.
17. Musorgsky began to compose the opera The Marriage, based on the unaltered text of Gogol’s prose comedy, during the summer of 1868. While working on the first act (he did not compose anything further) Musorgsky wrote: “In The Marriage I am crossing the Rubicon. This is lifelike prose in music; it is not a disregard of simple human speech by the musician-poets; it is not speech cloaked by a heroic robe; it is respectful of human speech, a reproduction of that speech.” (Letter to L. Shestakova dated July 30, 1868; this passage and all his letters are quoted from M. P. Musorgskii, Literaturnoe nasledie, Pis’ma i avtobiograficheskie materialy [M. P. Musorgsky. Literary heritage. Letters and autobiographical materials] [Moscow, 1971].) The work with this experimental opera was limited to the composition of one act; the Rubicon had been crossed, the mastering of a supple recitative had been achieved, and in the fall of 1868 Musorgsky undertook another work: the opera Boris Godunov.
18. On the manuscript of the piano score Musorgsky wrote this dedication: “I bequeath my student efforts to the eternal possession of dear Vladimir Vasil’evich Stasov, on his birthday. January 2, 1873. Modest Musorgsky alias Musorianin.” (All the dedications are reprinted in A. Orlova, M. P. Musorgsky’s Days and Works.)
19. The first version of the opera Boris Godunov was first presented to the Board of Directors of the Imperial Theaters in the early spring of 1870. The decision of the committee on operas was made in February 1871. They denied permission to stage the opera. The official reason for the denial is unknown.
20. Victor Hartmann (1834-1873) was an architect and an artist. Musorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition was based on Hartmann’s drawings.
21. Collection of texts of Russian songs by the folklorist Pavel Shein (1826-1900).
22. When composing the opera Boris Godunov Musorgsky used volumes X, XI, and XII of N. Karamzin’s Istoriia Gosudarstva Rossiiskogo [History of the Russian state]. (A detailed study appears in A. Orlova and M. Shneerson, “After Pushkin and Karamzin,” in Musorgsky. In Memoriam 1881-1981, Russian Music Studies #3, edited by Malcolm Hamrick Brown [Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982]. The Russian version of this article was published in the journal Grani, No. 119, 1981, with the title “Vopreki ‘ustanovkam i skhemam’ [In defiance of “Directions and schemes”].) Khrushchyov was not a voevode in Kromy, but Boris’s envoy to Kromy.
23. Daniil Mordovtsev (1830-1905) wrote historical novels and historical essays.
24. Drevnie russkie stikhotvoreniia [Ancient Russian poems], that is, Sbornik velikoruskikh narodnykh istoricheskikh pesen [Collection of great Russian popular historical songs], by I. Khudiakov (Moscow, 1860). Stasov forgot that he had met Musorgsky at the concert of the Russian Musical Society in November 1868.
25. The singer of tales T. Riabinin came to Petersburg in November or December 1871. Musorgsky recorded from his singing performance the tunes of the bylina “Pro Dobryniu i Vasiliia Kazimirova” [Dobrynia and Vasilii Kazimirov] and “Pro Volgu i Mikulu” [Volga and Mikula] (published in Onezhskie byliny, zapisannye Aleksandrom Fyodorovichem Gil’ferdingom [Byliny of Onezh, recorded by Aleksandr Fyodorovich Gilferding] [Petersburg, 1873], pp. 435-438).
26. Vladimir Nikol’skii (1836-1883), philologist, Pushkin scholar, and Musorgsky’s friend, was one of the regular guests at L. Shestakova’s. Not only did he advise Musorgsky to transpose the scenes of the finale in Boris Godunov, but it was precisely on his advice that Musorgsky chose Pushkin’s tragedy as the subject of this opera.
27. Dargomyzhsky died on January 5, 1869. By that time the “Prologue” and the “Scene at the Inn” from Boris Godunov had been composed.
28. Vladimir Purgold (1818-1895) was a prominent civil servant, an amateur singer, and the uncle of Aleksandra and Nadezhda Purgold. The sisters lived in his home after their father’s death. Alina Khvostova (1846-1904), mezzo-soprano, was a singing instructor at the Petersburg Conservatory.
29. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Pskovitianka was being composed almost simultaneously with Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov. Its first performance was held in the Mariinskii Theater, January 1, 1873. The first performance of three scenes from Boris Godunov was held on February 5 of the same year.
30. For information concerning Fyodor Komissarzhevskii and Iu. Platonova see Vospominaniia [Recollections] by Iu. Platonova, below.
31. Nikolai Lukashevich (1821-1894) was the master costumer in charge of the repertoire of the Imperial Theaters. He was close to Iu. Platonova.
32. P. Stasova sent the garland for Musorgsky not to the theater but to his house. Coming back from the theater he stumbled in the dark on something prickly and got scared. Later he wrote to P. Stasova: “I am still the same Musorianin, although I have become inured to the success after you had wreathed it.” (Letter dated July 23, 1873.)
33. Musorgsky gave one photograph to V. Stasov and another to P. Stasova. On the first was written: “Here I am straight from the first rehearsal of my Boris, my dear generalissime.” On the second he wrote: “To Poliksena Stepanovna Stasova. That is how I looked after my first rehearsal of Boris; well, take me but not as No. 6280 [the number of the photograph] but as Musorianin. January 10, 1874. And because of the garland you sent me I feel pressured. I must do what I must. Thank you, dear. The same Musorianin.”
34. Stasov has in mind the following critics: N. Solovyov, from the newspaper Birzhevye vedomosti [Stock news]; G. Laroche, from the newspaper Golos [Voice]; V. Baskin (the pen name of Foma Pichikato), from the newspaper Peterburgskii listok [Petersburg leaflet]); A. Famintsyn, from the journal Muzykal’nyi listok [Musical leaflet]; and finally C. Cui, from the newspaper St. Peterburgskie vedomosti [St. Petersburg news]. The last article was unexpected, and it was as knife in the back. Cui reproached the author of Boris Godunov for having composed the opera with haste and immaturity as well as for being complacent. After reading Cui’s article Musorgsky wrote to Stasov: “It seems that Boris had to appear for people to show their true colors. The tone of Cui’s article is odious.” (Letter dated February 6, 1874.)
35. During Musorgsky’s lifetime Boris Godunov had 21 performances.
36. For the second version of Boris Godunov Musorgsky wrote the Polish Act (two scenes) and the scene at Kromy; he developed the role of the hostess of the inn (the song “Poimala ia siza seleznia” [I caught a dove-gray drake]); he reworked the scenes in the cell and in the tsar’s chambers; he wrote a new version of Boris’s monologue; and he added the genre scenes. He also deleted the scene at St. Basil’s Cathedral.
37. From the words “I shall never forget” to the end of the paragraph, this is an excerpt from a letter from V. Stasov to A. Kerzin, dated April 20, 1905 (Muzykal’nyi sovremennik [Musical contemporary], no. 2, 1916, letter XIV.) Rimsky-Korsakov writes in detail about his life with Musorgsky (see My Musical Life).
38. Stasov gives the wrong title to Musorgsky’s vocal cycle; it should read “Pesni i pliaski smerti” [Songs and dances of death].
39. Vania is a trouser role in the opera Zhizn’ za tsaria [A life for the tsar]; Ratmir, another trouser role, is from the opera Ruslan i Liudmila [Ruslan and Ludmila] by Glinka.
40. “Sirotka” [The Orphan] (“Barin moi milen’kii”) [King gentleman, good gentleman]) is a song by Musorgsky based on his own text and composed in 1868. As for its shattering rendition by A. Petrova, see also Shestakova’s “My Evenings,” below. The author himself corroborates this in the autograph of the manuscript he offered to the singer: “Concocted by Musorgsky without any marks (one cannot infringe on genius) for the brilliant Anna Iakovlevna Vorobyova-Petrova. Even he did not dream what Anna Iakovlevna Vorobyova-Petrova could create out of this humble ‘Orphan.’ May, 1874. Musorgsky.” (From Sovetskaia muzyka [Soviet music], no. 10. 1967, pp. 70-71.)
41. A list of the subjects recorded by Golenishchev-Kutuzov has been preserved: “1. The Rich Man. 2. The Proletarian. 3. The Grand Gentleman. 4. The Dignitary. 5. The Tsar. 6. The Young Girl. 7. The Peasant. 8. The Child. 9. The Merchant. 10. The Priest. 11. The Poet.” The facsimile exists only in the Russian text.
42. Between 1872 and 1880 the following passages of Khovanshchina were composed: In 1873 Marfa’s song “Iskhodila mladyoshenka” [The maiden wandered] and the scene of Marfa with Susanna; in 1874 the Introduction “Rassvet na Moskvereke” [Dawn on the Moscow River]; in 1875 the first scenes of the first and third acts, and the beginning of the second act; in 1876 Shaklovityi’s aria from the third act, the Persian Dance, and the end of the second act; in 1878 Marfa’s divination scene from the second act; in 1879 Marfa’s song “The Maiden Wandered” was orchestrated; in 1880 the beginning of the last scene and the conclusion of the third act, and the first scene of the fourth act (Khovanskii’s chambers). “Our Khovanshchina is completed, except for a short passage in the final scene of the mass self-immolation by fire: we will need to chat about it together, for this ‘rascal’ is totally dependent on stage technique.” (Letter to V. Stasov, dated August 22, 1880.)
43. During his last years, starting with 1876, in addition to his work on Khovanshchina, Musorgsky wrote “Polkovodets” [The field marshal], the fourth and concluding number of Pesni i pliaski smerti [Songs and dances of death]); a series of pieces for Sorochinskaia Iarmarka [The fair at Sorochintsy]; songs based on words by Aleksei Tolstoi; some works for piano; and the song “Blokha” [The flea].
44. This passage refers to the final wording of the Khovanshchina libretto. During the summer of 1880, to satisfy his clients (they were to give him a subsidy when Khovanshchina was completed), Musorgsky feverishly deleted entire passages of what had already been composed. The manuscripts have been preserved, and nothing in them indicates that the composer planned to make any deletions. One can assume that the shortened version of the libretto was not the author’s final intention but a sort of “document” testifying to the completion of the opera (which in reality was not entirely finished). Unfortunately, it is exactly this, the incomplete libretto, that M. Pekelis—the editor of the volume in which the literary texts of the composer are included—used as the basic text of Khovanshchina despite the musical version. Besides, Pekelis did not take into account the composer’s unfortunate condition in the summer of 1880, the last year of his life. (The libretto is published in M. P. Musorgskii Literaturnoe nasledie. Literaturnye proizvedeniia [M. P. Musorgsky literary heritage. Literary works.] [Moscow, 1972], pp. 124-148.)
45. Musorgsky himself wrote to V. Stasov on August 27-28, 1880: “Khovanshchina is already on the eve of completion: but the instrumentation—Ye, gods!” Meanwhile, as early as August 2, 1876, Musorgsky had written to Shestakova: “Almost everything is composed; now one has to write and rewrite. If only I did not have to go to work as well, that’s what stands in the way.”
46. Several “conclusions” to Sorochinskaia Iarmarka [The fair at Sorochintsy] exist. V. Shebalin’s version is considered the best.
47. The vocal cycle Bez solntsa [Sunless], based on A. Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s verses, belongs to the dawn of Musorgsky’s creativity. It was composed simultaneously with the ballad “Zabytyi” [Forgotten] and Kartinki s vystavki [Pictures from an exhibition] in 1874. The songs “Spes’ ” [Pride passes by, puffed up], “Oi, chest’ li to molodtsu” [Ah, is it an honor for a young man to weave flax?], “Gornimi tikho letela dusha nebesami” [The soul calmly flew through the heavenly empyrean], “Ne bozhiim gromom gore udarilo” [Grief does not crash like God’s thunder], and “Rassvetaetsia, rasstupaetsia” [Grief disperses and gives way] are based on verses by A. Tolstoi.
48. The two capriccios for piano—“Na iuzhnom beregu Kryma (Gurzuf u Aiu-Daga. Iz putevykh zametok)” [On the southern shore of Crimea. (Gurzuf at Aia-Dag. From travel notes)] and “Bliz iuzhnogo berega Kryma (Baidary)” [Near the southern shore of Crimea (Baidarki)]—were composed in 1879. “Buria na Chyornom more” [Storm on the Black Sea] has not been preserved. The project “Bol’shaia siuita” [Big suite], for orchestra with harps and piano on themes from the Transcaspian region, was apparently never written.
49. Beginning with 1872 not only are Musorgsky’s letters to Stasov filled with simple complaints about his “unhappiness at work” but these letters show the composer’s depressed state of mind, due to the fact that he had to go to work (see above, Preface).
50. Musorgsky worked from December 21, 1868 to September 30, 1878 in the Department of Forestry of the Ministry of State Properties. Tertii Filippov (1826-1899), an important civil servant and a State Comptroller, was an amateur musician and expert on folk art. (Rimsky-Korsakov recorded folk songs right from Filippov’s lips; the collection of songs was published under the names of Filippov and Rimsky-Korsakov.) Filippov was a great admirer of Musorgsky’s talent. He literally saved the composer from starvation and poverty at a time when the composer was under threat of dismissal from the Forestry Department. (Musorgsky was unable to fulfil his duties, his bouts of hard drinking having become habitual.) Filippov hired Musorgsky as a member of the temporary commission of the Government Control on October 1, 1878. But the composer’s condition was worsening; he was incapable of working, and on January 1, 1880, he was dismissed, despite all of Filippov’s efforts. Then Filippov, Stasov, and several other admirers of Musorgsky joined together and provided him with 100 rubles a month for the completion of Khovanshchina. Simultaneously another group (Ukrainophiles) collected 75 rubles for the completion of Sorochinskaia Iarmarka [The fair at Sorochintsy]. Unfortunately all this help came too late; it was impossible to save Musorgsky.
51. The opera Boris Godunov was not taken out of the repertoire but it was performed very rarely. Its last performance during Musorgsky’s life, the 21st, was held on February 9, 1879. Boris’s “castration” (i.e., the deletion of the scene at Kromy) began with the thirteenth performance, on October 20, 1876. At the time the scene in the cell had never been performed.
52. Musorgsky and Leonova’s concert tour in southern Russia and later in the principal cities of Russia ended in Tver’. That this tour was an enormous success is evident, not only from the newspapers, but also from Musorgsky’s letters. The following spring (1880) Musorgsky and Leonova returned to Tver’ with two concerts, which were also very successful. For their stay in Yalta, see S. Fortunato’s recollections below.
53. See K. Wolfurt, Mussorgskii (Stuttgart, 1927) and M. Ivanov’s “Obituary” in the present work.
54. Musorgsky’s birthday was not on March 16 but March 9. For details see A. Orlova, Musorgsky’s Days and Works . . . , pp. 47-48. See also Nikolai Novikov, “Ego rodoslovnaia” [His genealogy] Sovetskaia muzyka [Soviet music], No. 3, 1989, PP. 32-38; and U istokov velikoi zhizni [The sources for a great life] (Lenizdat, 1989), pp. 65-66.
55. In Musorgsky’s letters to Stasov there is no reference to this theme, but it seems that they had conversations about it.
56. In Turgenev’s Dym [Smoke] (1867), chap. 14, one of the characters—Potugin—has a scoffing monologue about Russian art in general and Glinka in particular.
57. “Rogdana” was an unfinished fantastic opera by Dargomyzhsky.
58. The music for Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear was composed by Balakirev between 1858 and 1861.
59. The first version of the chorus of Porazhenie Sennakheriba [The destruction of Sennakherib] (1867) was dedicated to Balakirev and its second version (1873) to Stasov.
60. From 1867 to 1869, while Balakirev was the conductor of the Russian Musical Society, he popularized the works of the Russian composers. Because his activity provoked the displeasure of the “pro-Germans,” he was relieved of his duties. This event in turn caused the indignation of all the Russian musicians, whatever inclinations they had. Tchaikovsky responded with an irate article in Golos iz moskovskogo muzykal’nogo mira [Voice from the Muscovite musical world], in which, among other things, he wrote: “It would be very sad if the expulsion from a higher musical institution of a man who was its adornment did not provoke the protest of the Russian musicians. . . . Mr. Balakirev can now say what the father of Russian philology uttered when he learned of his expulsion from the Academy of Sciences: ‘One can dismiss the Academy from Lomonosov,’ said the genius ‘but Lomonosov cannot be dismissed from the Academy’ ” (in the newspaper Sovremennaia letopis’ [Contemporary chronicle], no. 16, 1869; reprinted in P. Chaikovskii, Muzykal’nye kriticheskie stat’i [P. Tchaikovsky, Articles of musical criticism] [Moscow, 1953], pp. 28-30).
61. The family of the artists, the Makovskiis, tried their best to show Kamennyi gost’ [The stone guest] to Turgenev. It was then that K. Makovskii drew his caricature of the Balakirev circle (which has been attributed to his wife, Elena Makovskaia). For details, see below, Shestakova, “My Evenings.”
62. Apparently Musorgsky did not tell Stasov about his meeting with Turgenev on March 22, 1874, when the writer visited the Petrovs and had the opportunity of getting to know Musorgsky’s works as performed by O. and A. Petrov and by the composer himself. Turgenev wrote to Pauline Viardot about this encounter and the strong impression it had made on him. (Letter dated May 22, 1874 in Ivan Tourguenev, Nouvelle correspondance inédite, vol. 1 [Paris, 1971].)
63. Turgenev regarded Tchaikovsky especially highly. Regarding the opera Evgenii Onegin [Eugene Onegin], he wrote to Tolstoi: “undoubtedly remarkable music; the lyrical, melodious passages are especially good.” (Letter dated November 27, 1878. Quoted from A. Orlova, Dni i gody P. I. Chaikovskogo, Letopis’ zhizni i tvorchestva [Days and years of P. I. Tchaikovsky. Chronicle of his life and works] [Moscow, 1940], p. 192.)
64. Nadezhda Opochinina (1818-1874) was eighteen years older than Musorgsky. From his youth he was her enthusiastic admirer, but it is difficult to say whether Opochinina shared his feelings. There is no proof of intimacy. However, the works he dedicated to her betray these deeply hidden feelings for her. He dedicated the following works to her: “Strastnyi eksprompt” [Passionate impromptu] for piano, with the inscription: “Memories of Bel’tov and Liuba” (from Herzen’s novel Kto vinovat? [Whose fault?]); a song based on Kurochkin’s verses “Rasstalis’ gordo my” [Proudly we parted]; “Noch’ ” [Night], which is based on Pushkin’s poem; “Zhelanie” [Desire] (“Khotel by v edinoe slovo” [In one single word I would like]), based on Heine’s verses, with an undeciphered inscription: “Dedicated to Nad. Petr. Opochinina (in memory of her criticism of me).” In addition, the musical lampoon “Klassik”[The classicist] was also dedicated to Opochinina. The vocal prank “Strekotuniia beloboka” [The white-flanked magpie] was dedicated to her and her brother. Nadezhda Opochinina—an outstanding and strong-willed person—might have been Marfa’s prototype in Khovanshchina. And Musorgsky might have had her in mind when he wrote to Stasov: “If a strong, passionate and beloved woman powerfully embraces the man she loves, then, although he realizes that there is violence, he does not want to escape from this embrace, for the violence is a ‘boundless bliss,’ for because of this violence ‘the young blood blazes with flame.’ I am not ashamed of the comparison: however you twist and flirt with the truth, one who has experienced love in all its freedom and might has lived, and he remembers how beautiful life was, and he will not throw a shadow on a past bliss.” (Letter dated October 18, 1872.) The unfinished song “Zlaia smert’. Nadgrobnoe pis’mo” [Wicked death. Funeral letter] (based on Musorgsky’s own text) is also dedicated to the memory of Opochinina.
65. Mariia Shilovskaia (1830-1879; nee Verderevskaia; by her second marriage, Begicheva) was an amateur singer and a student of Glinka and of Dargomyzhsky. Apparently Musorgsky talks about his youthful passion for Shilovskaia in one of his letters to Balakirev (from Moscow, where he was then a guest at the Shilovskies’): “There was a time when I nearly went under, not musically, but morally—I crawled out; however, you will find out later what really happened—if our conversation should touch this matter—there was a woman involved.” (Letter dated January 19, 1861.) There is no name mentioned, and apparently they never talked about it. About Musorgsky’s love for the singer Aleksandra Latysheva (nee Lileeva, 1830-1872) nothing is known.
1. In 1849 Musorgsky began to take lessons with Anton Herke, a famous piano professor in St. Petersburg, immediately after the latter’s arrival in Petersburg. (Herke later became professor at the Conservatory; Tchaikovsky was also one of his students.) The composer writes in his Autobiographical Note: “My father, who adored art, decided to develop his son’s aptitudes; and his subsequent musical studies [after lessons with his mother] were with Anton Herke in Petersburg. The professor was so pleased with Musorgsky that he assigned him, a twelve-year-old boy, to play the concert rondo by Herz during a concert held in the house of the lady-in-waiting Riumina.”) M. P. Musorgskii, Literaturnoe nasledie. [M. P. Musorgsky, Literary heritage], p. 267.) After his father’s death, when the family’s financial situation deteriorated, Musorgsky’s lessons with Herke were less frequent at first; later they were stopped completely.
2. Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) was a famous Swiss philosopher physiognomist.
3. Musorgsky met Aleksandr Dargomyzhsky (1813-1869) through his friend F. Vanliarskii. They were at school and in the regiment together. Vanliarskii was very fond of music.
4. Regarding Musorgsky’s service, see above, note 50 in V. Stasov’s memoirs.
5. From the summer of 1856 to the spring of 1862 Musorgsky lived on Grebetskaia Street, near Raz“ezzhaia Street, in Tuliakov’s house. Following Filaret’s wedding and their mother’s departure for the country, the brothers established their residence in house number 22/27, at the corner of Znamenskaia and Basseinaia streets. (This address was established recently and appeared in the newspaper Vechernii Leningrad [Evening Leningrad] of June 15, 1989.) The former apartment of the Musorgsky brothers has been used as a post office for a long time. Filaret Musorgsky’s wife was Tat’iana Balakshina (1837-1897). The friendly relationship between the composer and his sister-in-law is evident from the dedication he wrote on the photograph album he offered his belle-soeur : “To my dear sister Temira Musorgskaia in memory of her having come with my brother Filaret Musorgsky to the first performance of the opera Boris Godunov.” (The album was preserved in the Musorgsky family and has been donated by Filaret Musorgsky’s granddaughter to the composer’s museum in Russia.)
6. Filaret is thinking of the so-called commune where the composer lived with his friends. At the time, young people shared quarters in communes, having been influenced by the novel Chto delat’? [What is to be done?] by N[ikolai] Chernyshevskii (1828-1889). Musorgsky’s commune was located in house number 70 on Ekaterinskii Canal. Musorgsky dedicated his piano piece “Detskoie skertso” [Children’s scherzo] to Nikolai Levashev, one of the members of the commune.
1. Musorgsky resigned in 1858.
2. Mendelssohn’s Third (“Scottish”) Symphony.
3. Musorgsky had written the Scherzo in B-flat major in 1858.
4. Sergei Botkin (1832-1889) was a famous physician-therapist, one of the founders of Russian clinical medicine, a professor at the Surgico-Medical Academy, Borodin’s comrade, and an amateur musician.
5. Rimsky-Korsakov’s First Symphony in E-flat minor (second version in E minor). Rimsky-Korsakov was at sea from October 1862 to May 1865.
1. Musorgsky began to take lessons with Balakirev at the end of 1857.
2. In his Autobiographical Note, the composer himself tells about his studies with Balakirev: “The nineteen-year-old composer covered the entire history of the development of musical art—with examples, with exacting and systematic analysis of all the foremost musical works in chronological order. This study was always accompanied with the execution of the musical works on two pianos.” (M. P. Musorgskii, Literaturnoe nasledie. [M. P. Musorgsky, Literary heritage], p. 268.)
3. This is absolutely false. Musorgsky ceased to consult Balakirev at the beginning of the summer of 1867, as a result of the master’s rejection of “Witches” in Night on Bald Mountain.
4. The fact that Balakirev divorced himself from the circle was a result of the sharp change which took place in Balakirev himself. Material hardships played a great role: his father’s death, the necessity of having to care for his sisters, the failure of his concerts in Nizhnii-Novgorod, and his break with the Russian Musical Society. Balakirev began consulting a fortune-teller, and he turned into a bigot. His despotic character played a great part in his break with the circle. Balakirev was unable to understand that his disciples had matured, that they had grown independent in their creativity and individuality. Borodin wrote that Balakirev had lost his mind. Borodin was not very far from the truth: a psychological breakdown must have taken place. Later on, Balakirev again began to meet his old comrades, but the previous relationships were not reestablished. In his Letopis’ moei muzykal’noi zhizni [My musical life], Rimsky-Korsakov wrote about this extensively and in detail (although quite tendentiously). See also the correspondence of Balakirev and Stasov as well as Borodin’s Letters.
1. Unkovskaia’s father, Vasilii Zakhar’in, an amateur singer, was close to the Balakirev circle during its earlier period of activity.
2. Unkovskaia’s mother, Avdot’ia, nee Arsen’eva, was an amateur pianist. She was the sister of the Sanskrit scholar Aleksandr Arsen’ev, who was also close to the Balakirev circle (he had been nicknamed “Mustafa” by the circle). Unkovskaia also mentions her mother’s other brother, Konstantin, who was also an amateur singer.
3. Nikolai Borozdin, a lawyer and amateur musician, was nicknamed “Pyotr” (Peter) and “Petra” by the Balakirev circle.
1. The family of the opera singer Pyotr Gumbin (a baritone).
2. “Lieber Augustin” was a popular Austrian and German song; the waltz is from Gounod’s opera Faust; Kamarinskaia is a fantasy for orchestra by Glinka.
3. Andzholina Bosio (1824-1859), an Italian soprano, performed in Petersburg between 1856 and 1859, and it was there that she died.
4. Osip Petrov was the first to perform the part of Ivan Susanin in Glinka’s opera Zhizn’ za tsaria [A life for the tsar]. He performed this part for half a century.
5. A card game.
1. The first encounter of the Balakirev circle and the Purgold sisters took place on March 5, 1868.
2. A black or brown mineral, the chief source of metallic tin.
3. Ivan the Terrible has a role in the opera Pskovitianka [The maid of Pskov] by Rimsky-Korsakov; and Tsar Boris is the main character in the opera Boris Godunov by Musorgsky.
4. Nadezhda Rimskaia-Korsakova’s diary from before her marriage gives interesting additional details on Musorgsky’s character. It deals with the first years of their acquaintance: “He has a way—probably because of excessive vanity—of never starting a conversation, of never making the first move, of never forcing someone else to speak, as if he were afraid of showing that it gives him pleasure to talk with that person. He wants those who consider it a particular pleasure to talk to him to make the first move. The same thing also happens in other cases: because of vanity, he is never the first one to volunteer to bring his songs. Although he knows what pleasure they give, he waits to be asked. Again for the same reason he never asks Sasha to sing, although I know perfectly well how highly he thinks of her singing. Particularly when he is by himself. . . . In such a case, he usually comes with the idea of performing some work of his own, to show something new, and he wants exclusive attention, he wants to fill the entire evening with himself. In short, the result is (at least I have come to this conclusion) that the most important trait in his character is this vanity. . . . I disagree with those who think that he is not intelligent. He has a peculiar, original, and very spirited mind. But sometimes he abuses this spirited turn of mind out of a desire to strike a pose, to show that he is quite unique or because it is ingrained in his nature. The first is probably true. He has too much pepper in him, if one can express oneself this way. The nickname that my sister and I gave him (we also nicknamed all the others) is Humor. I find it quite appropriate since humor is indeed his most important trait. But he lacks warmth, and gentleness. Dear “Iskrennost’ ” [Candor; Rimsky-Korsakov’s nickname] has so much of it. Perhaps he does not have the ability to be easily carried away and to love. I am not yet sure of that. But, I repeat, he does not possess gentleness and indulgence toward the others.” (Entry of August 29, 1870.) Later she added: “All this is incorrect; or at least many things are incorrect; generally speaking, this description of him is not good.” “It is incorrect only as far as gentleness and warmth are concerned; he has both of them, as I had the opportunity to discover myself.” (A. Rimskaia-Korsakova, N. A. Rimskii-Korsakov, Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo, [N. Rimsky-Korsakov, life and works] [Moscow, 1935], Part 2, pp. 85-86.
5. In the scene at Khovansky’s in the opera Khovanshchina.
6. The first performance was in a concert of the Free Music School under Rimsky-Korsakov’s direction on November 27, 1879. (See below, memoirs by Rimsky-Korsakov and by Tiumenev.)
7. This statement is an example of the biased attitude of Musorgsky’s friends. It is difficult to believe that, with his keen ear and his startling memory, he “did not notice” the changes made by Rimsky-Korsakov in the “Persian Dance.” More likely, it was the result of his illness. But again, possibly, it was due to his usual tactfulness. Finally, the composer was not planning on dying soon—and he might have accepted with gratitude the assistance of Rimsky-Korsakov, who had come to his aid for the concert. And who knows whether Musorgsky would have kept the changes made by Rimsky-Korsakov, were he to work on the orchestration. Perhaps he would have created his own version.
1. V. V. Stasov, Fortunato’s natural father.
2. Dmitrii Stasov (1828-1918) was a lawyer and a well-known figure in the musical world and in society.
3. The dates of Leonova and Musorgsky’s concerts in Yalta have not been established absolutely. More than likely, the two concerts were held on September 7 and 8. In any case, in his letters to Shestakova and V. Stasov (September 9 and 10), Musorgsky says that in several cities, as well as in Yalta, works by Glinka and by the composers of the Balakirev circle had been performed. Therefore, by September 9, the concerts in Yalta had already taken place.
4. Musorgsky wrote about his stay in Yalta: “And what wonderful places we have seen, what lovely scenery, what a vivifying air. . . . Crimea’s southern shore is magic: either formidable and inaccessible, frowning with the clouds hanging above the cliffs, or tender and hospitable with the most luxurious, charming gardens, which seem to be built of air, dressed from head to foot with rare, twining vegetation; through this intricate garb one can see the light, fretted cornices with lacy galleries and balconies. And in addition to all this a bright blue sky and a sea green as an emerald.” (Letter to P. Shemaev, September 19, 1879.)
5. Borodin’s opera Kniaz’ Igor’ [Prince Igor] and Cui’s opera William Ratcliff.
1. V. Komarova-Stasova was born in 1862; therefore, she is talking about the year 1869.
2. The second series of Detskaia [The nursery]: “Na dache. Iz detskoi zhizni” [At the dacha. From childhood] has two songs: “Kot Matros” [The sailor cat] and “V Iukki verkhom na palochke” [In Iukk’ riding on a stick]; the songs “Son” [Dream] and a fourth one (without title) were not preserved, and possibly were not written down.
3. From William Ratcliff, an opera by Cui.
4. Konchak’s aria from the opera Kniaz’ Igor’ [Prince Igor], by Borodin.
5. The three scenes were performed on February 5, 1873. The premiere of the entire opera was held on January 27, 1874.
6. The cast of Boris Godunov was as follows: O. Palechek—Rangoni, O. Petrov—Varlaam, I. Mel’nikov—Boris, F. Kommissarzhevskii—The Pretender. A. Krutikova took the part of the hostess much later; at the premiere it was sung by A. Abarinova. Komarova-Stasova’s memory fails her: when only the three scenes were performed, it was Leonova who sang the part of the hostess.
7. The benefit was for the manager of the opera company, G. Kondrat’ev.
8. The first performance of the opera Kniaz’ Igor’ [Prince Igor] took place in 1890 after Borodin’s death (the opera was finished by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov). M. Kariakin sang the role of Konchak.
9. Komarova-Stasova is giving the titles of the scenes in the tsar’s chambers from the opera Boris Godunov.
10. “Sirotka” [The orphan] was composed in 1868, “Zabytyi” [Forgotten] in 1874, and “Trepak” in 1875.
11. Tararui is the historical nickname of Ivan Khovanskii. From the episodes enumerated here, only one scene has been preserved: that of the destruction of the clerk’s booth. It was deleted by Rimsky-Korsakov in his version of Khovanshchina.
12. The drama Smuta ili Vasilii Shuiskii [Sedition] was also by Golenishchev-Kutuzov. See his reminiscences below.
13. Ol’ga Andreevna Gulevich.
1. Shestakova’s and Dmitrii Stasov’s daughter Olia (Glinka’s godchild) died at the age of ten in 1863.
2. Shestakova was present at the celebration of V. Stasov’s birthday on January 2, 1866.
3. Dargomyzhsky died January 5, 1869.
4. Dargomyzhsky died without finishing Kamennyi gost’ [The stone guest]; Cui completed it, and Rimsky-Korsakov orchestrated it. Prior to Dargomyzhsky’s death, Balakirev wrote the Overture on a theme from the three Czech scenes; he planned and began to write the fantasy “Islamei” for piano and the symphonic overture “Tamara.” Other songs written by Musorgsky during that period were: “Po griby” [Gathering mushrooms], “Pirushka” [The feast], “Strekotun’ia-beloboka” [The white-flanked magpie], “Ozornik” [The mischievous one], “Kozyol” [The he-goat], “Klassik” [The classicist], “Po-nad Donom sad tsvetyot” [On the Don a garden blooms], “Kolybel’naia Eryomushke” [Yeremushka’s cradle song], the first song from the cycle Detskaia [The nursery] (“Ditia s nianei” [The infant with Nursey]; the children’s song “Vo sadu, akh vo sadochke” [In the garden]; and “Ia tsvetok polevoi” [I am a flower of the fields] (“Evreiskaia pesnia” [Hebrew song]). The opera Boris Godunov was planned during the fall of 1868; prior to it, Musorgsky wrote the first act of the opera Zhenit’ba [The marriage].
5. Musorgsky presented Boris Godunov to the Board of Theatrical Directors in the spring of 1870. In the first version the hostess did not have the song “Poimala ia siza seleznia” [I caught a dove-grey drake].
6. For information about Platonova see her recollections below.
7. On Eduard Napravnik see the head note to his memoir, below. Gennadii Kondrat’ev (1834-1905), a baritone, was the principal manager of the Russian opera from 1872 to 1900.
8. The committee on opera rejected Boris Godunov in February 1871. Musorgsky’s reaction to this decision came as a great surprise to his friends. Rimsky-Korsakov wrote to A. Purgold on February 14: “The insensible Tigra [Musorgsky’s nickname in the circle] . . . knows everything about Boris’s fate and he has reacted to it absolutely unlike one might have expected, and consequently his reaction has been quite different from what everyone expected.” (A. Orlova. M. P. Musorgsky’s Days and Works, p. 229.)
9. Shestakova erred: the entire episode happened in 1871. See also V. V. Stasov’s recollections.
10. The caricature of the Balakirev circle (which is kept in the museum of the theater named for A. Bakhrushin in Moscow) was drawn not by Elena Makovskaia but by her husband, Konstantin Makovskii. In the lower left-hand corner one sees the initials K. M. It seems that it was his wife’s idea, but it was he who drew it. It is quite possible that Shestakova forgot the details, hence her mistake. V. Komarova-Stasova reports that this picture had been offered to Shestakova by E. Makovskaia, and that for a long time it was hidden in a back room. Later Shestakova gave it to V. Stasov; and from him it passed into the hands of his brother Dmitrii. After Dmitrii’s death V. Komarova-Stasova gave the picture to the Bakhrushin Museum “because it is a document of paramount interest and value, which, in an extremely talented manner portrays all the representatives of the Mighty Handful.” (Vladimir Karenin, Vladimir Stasov [Leningrad, 1926], Part 1, p. 375.)
11. Stasov holds the trumpet of glory; riding on the trumpet is the architect and artist Victor Hartmann depicted as a monkey; and on Stasov’s shoulder sits the sculptor Mark Antokol’skii, depicted as Mephistopheles.
12. The scene in the Inn was written for the first version of the opera. The song of the hostess is a later addition (see above, note 36 of Stasov’s recollections).
13. The premiere of Pskovitianka [The maid of Pskov] was held on January 1, 1873; the three scenes from Boris were given on February 5.
14. The prototype for the seminarian in the song Seminarist [The Seminarian] was Vasilii Molchanov from the Velikie Luki Seminary. He had been “assigned” to the village of Poshivkino “for a one-year training program” under the supervision of the priest of the Odigitriev Church, Simeon (Semyon) Vasilievich Suvorov. Father Simeon had several daughters, one of whom caught Molchanov’s fancy. According to Father Simeon, Molchanov was far from gifted in his studies. Thus, the scene in Musorgsky’s song was drawn from real life. (See Nikolai Novikov, U istokov velikoi zhizni [The sources for a great life] [Leningrad: Lenizdat, 1988].)
15. See Iu. Platonova’s recollections and notes, below.
16. O. Petrov died on February 28, 1878.
17. Shestakova refers to the period when she was writing “My Evenings” (at V. Stasov’s suggestion). At the beginning of the manuscript is the date May 31, 1889.
18. The author of the project for the monument was the architect I. Bogomolov, and the bas-relief was the work of the sculptor I. Ginzburg.
19. The beginning of a letter from Musorgsky, dated January 17, 1876. It refers to Borodin’s Second Symphony, in B minor, entitled Geroicheskaia Simfoniia [Heroic symphony] or Bogatyrskaia Symfoniia [The Bogatyr symphony].
20. Stasov was collecting Musorgsky’s autographs for the Public Library.
21. The letter has not been found.
22. Fyodor Gridnin (1844-1917), a journalist, Leonova’s common-law husband.
23. Stasov’s nickname in the Balakirev circle.
1. Kniaz’ Kholmskii was a tragedy written in the 1830s and 40s by the famous playwright Nestor Kukol’kin, a friend of Glinka. The latter wrote the music for this tragedy (1840); apparently that was why the Balakirev circle took interest in it.
2. On Aleksandr Arsen’ev, see above, note 2 of Unkovskaia’s recollections.
3. During this period of close acquaintance with Balakirev and his studies with him, Musorgsky composed an Allegro for orchestra (not preserved), a Scherzo in B-flat major, “Alia marcia notturna,” Menuetto (not preserved), and a Symphony in D major (not preserved). The music for the tragedy “Tsar’ Edip” [Oedipus] has not been preserved except for the chorus in the temple scene.
4. Here, Rimsky-Korsakov repeats an accepted legend (see also Balakirev’s recollections, above).
5. Musorgsky’s brother was christened Filaret; the name Evgenii was often used out of superstition, to protect him from death, if death were to seek him out (his parents had lost two children before Filaret’s birth).
6. “Koroleva Mab” [Queen Mab scherzo] and “Bal u Kapuletti” [The feast at the Capulets] are episodes from Berlioz’ Symphony “Romeo and Juliet”; Musorgsky’s arrangement has not been preserved.
7. Kavkazskii plennik [The prisoner of the Caucasus] and Syn Mandarina [The mandarin’s son] are operas by Cui. The symphony is Rimsky-Korsakov’s First Symphony.
8. The Scherzo in B-flat major was performed on January 11, 1860, at the concert of the Russian Musical Society under A. Rubinstein’s direction. The chorus from Oedipus was performed on April 6, 1861, in the Mariinskii Theater, in a concert directed by K. Liadov.
9. Cf. Balakirev’s letter to Stasov: “Musorgsky is almost an idiot,” dated June 3, 1863. (Quoted in M. Balakirev and V. Stasov, Perepiska [Correspondence], [Moscow, 1970], vol. 1, p. 212.)
10. The symphonic fantasy Noch’ na Lysoi gore (Ivanova noch’ na Lysoi gore) [Night on bald mountain (St. John’s night on bald mountain)] underwent a series of “transformations.” The first version mentioned by Rimsky-Korsakov is unknown; it is possible that it was never even written down. According to Musorgsky himself, it was planned in 1866. In 1867, it was written for a symphony orchestra but it was rejected by Balakirev, to whom Musorgsky wrote: “I was blue not because of living in the country or because of my financial situation. It was an author’s spleen . . . due to your guarded response about my “Witches” [this was what Musorgsky called “Noch’ “]. I thought, I think so now, and I will think that I consider this piece a decent one, particularly because, in it, after several independent trifles, for the first time I independently came up with an important work. . . . Whether or not you agree, my friend, to perform my “Witches,” i.e., whether I will hear them or not, I will change nothing in the general outline or treatment; both are closely linked with the content of the picture and executed sincerely without pretense or imitation. Every author remembers the mood he was in while conceiving and executing a project, and this feeling or the memory of a past mood greatly supports his personal criterion. I accomplished my task as well as I could—to the best of my abilities.” (Letter dated September 24, 1867.) The work was not performed during Musorgsky’s lifetime. In 1880 the composer included this music in “Son parobka” [Reverie of a young peasant] in the opera Sorochinskaia Iarmarka [The fair at Sorochintsy], having transformed the symphonic poem into a chorus with orchestra. It is precisely this version which Rimsky-Korsakov revised and orchestrated and turned into the widely known symphonic fantasy Noch’ na Lysoi gore [Night on bald mountain]. At the end of the 1920s Musorgsky’s original manuscript was discovered in the library of the Leningrad Conservatory by the musicologist Georgii Orlov. It was performed once by the Leningrad Philharmonic Society and then forgotten. In the West, Musorgsky’s symphonic poem, in the author’s version, is known and performed. The conductor N. Mal’ko brought along a copy of the score when he emigrated from the USSR.
11. On the chorus of Porazhenie Sennakheriba [The destruction of Sennacherib], see above, note 59 of V. Stasov’s recollections. The chorus of “Iisus Navin” [Joshua] (the biblical text had been rearranged by Musorgsky) was dedicated to N. Rimsky-Korsakov (the author’s date on the manuscript is July 2, 1877).
12. This statement by Rimsky-Korsakov shows the biased attitude toward Musorgsky which was generally accepted at the time, when people did not understand the innovative searching of the brilliant composer.
13. During these years Musorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov maintained a correspondence dealing particularly with problems of creativity.
14. The choice of L. Mei’s drama Pskovitianka is characteristic of the sixties. At the time, young Russian composers such as Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky simultaneously turned toward subjects from their own history, subjects in which moral problems played a determining role.
15. Musorgsky, following in Stasov’s footsteps, also opposed marriage and family responsibilities for artists. His feelings had their origin in Glinka’s unsuccessful marriage and painful divorce, which left an excruciating imprint on the composer’s life.
16. Aleksandr Serov (1820-1871) was at first a friend but later a fierce enemy of the Balakirev circle. Aleksandr Famintsyn (1841-1896) was a critic and a professor at the Petersburg Conservatory. He was the enemy of the composers of the New Russian school and violently attacked the works of Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and others. Famintsyn’s criticism of the symphonic poem Sadko by Rimsky-Korsakov provoked Musorgsky into composing his satirical song “Klassik” [The classicist]. (Incidentally, Famintsyn is the author of an interesting but still unpublished music dictionary; it is kept in the Manuscript Section of the Leningrad Public Library.)
17. In the summer of 1871, Musorgsky did not go anywhere.
18. Rimsky-Korsakov’s older brother Voin (1822-1871) was a sailor. Raised on Italian opera he was, nevertheless, from his youth able to appreciate Glinka’s Ruslan i Liudmila [Ruslan and Ludmila], an opera which was far from understood by many contemporaries.
19. Musorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov became roommates on September 1, 1871. Musorgsky was then working on the second version of Boris Godunov.
20. Aleksandr Opochinin (1805-1887) and his sister, Nadezhda (1821-1874), were close friends of Musorgsky’s (about his relationship with Nadezhda see Stasov’s recollections above.) Musorgsky lived at the Opochinins’ while he was working on the first version of Boris Godunov.
21. For information about Lukashevich, see the recollections of Iu. Platonova and L. Shestakova in this volume.
22. N. Krabbe, head of the Naval Ministry, was Rimsky-Korsakov’s patron.
23. The first Polish scene was also performed. The benefit was for K. Kondrat’ev.
24. Rimsky-Korsakov and Nadezhda Purgold were married on June 20, 1872. Musorgsky was their shafer [he held the crown].
25. The Khovanshchina project goes back to 1872, i.e., when the orchestration of the second version of Boris Godunov was on the verge of completion. It is of interest to note the following dates: June 23 when the score of the scene at Kromy was completed; and July 7, when Musorgsky finished researching the historical sources for Khovanshchina.
26. The author’s date on the manuscript refers to a later period.
27. This passage and the following one from Letopis’ moei muzykal’noi zhizni [My musical life] reflects Musorgsky’s loneliness and the total lack of understanding of his tragic situation (see also the Preface to the present volume).
28. Rimsky-Korsakov’s tone attracts one’s attention. For example, when he talks about the stage history of Boris Godunov in Letopis’ moei muzykal’noi zhizni [My musical life], it is one of estrangement: “it was rumored”; “it was said that the censors did not like the subject”; “the opera, which has been performed for two or three years, was now taken out of the repertoire.” At the same time, Rimsky-Korsakov was not only a witness to these events but also close to Musorgsky. And he alludes to rumors. As for the “removal from” the repertoire of Boris Godunov, he is mistaken: the opera was not taken out during the reign of Aleksander II; it was taken out during the next reign, after Musorgsky’s death. Indeed, the opera was seldom performed, but each of its performances was a triumph for the composer. Despite the violent attacks by the critics, the public, particularly the young people, liked the opera (see above, Stasov’s recollections).
29. This statement shows a lack of knowledge of the circumstances of Musorgsky’s life and an even greater ignorance of his acquaintances and relationships. Malyi Iaroslavets was not simply a tavern, as Russians understood it. It was a restaurant where the avant-garde intelligentsia gathered; it was a unique club of actors, physicians, writers, and artists. Rimsky-Korsakov writes about the personnel of Malyi Iaroslavets with aristocratic arrogance. The author of the present work discovered a letter from Musorgsky addressed to P. Shemaev, the maître-d’hôtel of this tavern. It testifies to Musorgsky’s democratic spirit and his respect for people, regardless of their social status.
30. Musorgsky’s statements refute Rimsky-Korsakov’s assertions that Musorgsky had a negative attitude—due to some personal reason—against Rimsky-Korsakov’s studies in theory. Musorgsky considered Rimsky-Korsakov’s academism a betrayal of the precepts of the Mighty Handful, a betrayal of the innovators’ ideals. On September 19, 1875, Musorgsky wrote to Stasov: “When I think of some artists who are behind the “barrier” [shlagbaum], I feel some sort of anguish as well as some sort of slushy witchcraft. All these yearnings of theirs, drizzling drop by drop, in such regular, dear, little drops; they are amused, but one who looks on is bored and grieved. Cut your way through, my dear fellow, as real men would do; show us if you have claws or fins; are you a beast or an amphibian? It is beyond you! Don’t you see the barrier? Without reasoning, these artists have unwillingly chained themselves to tradition. They corroborate the law of inertia and think they achieve something.”
31. Again it is not a matter of “liking” or “disliking” but a divergence of opinions.
32. Regarding Musorgsky’s relationship with Balakirev, see Balakirev’s and Stasov’s recollections and their notes in the present volume.
33. During the “decline” of his talent (according to Rimsky-Korsakov) Musorgsky wrote two scenes from Khovanshchina and Sorochinskaia Iarmarka [The fair at Sorochintsy], Pesni i pliaski smerti [Songs and dances of death], Kartinki s vystavki [Pictures from an exhibition], the cycle Bez solntsa [Sunless], and a series of songs and romances.
34. Rimsky-Korsakov himself reviewed Pskovitianka [The maid of Pskov] once more and wrote a new version. He made an independent one-act opera, Vera Sheloga, from the Prologue.
35. Parafrazy [Paraphrases] for piano, based on the theme of “Chopsticks,” consists of eight variations and six pieces by Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Cui, and Liadov.
36. The rendition of the scene in the cell from the opera Boris Godunov, in a concert of the Free Music School on January 16, 1879, under the direction of Rimsky-Korsakov. See also below, I. Tiumenev’s recollections about this concert.
37. The opera Maiskaia Noch’ [May night] was premiered on January 2, 1880 in the Mariinskii Theater.
38. The concert was held on November 27, 1879. See I. Tiumenev’s recollections below.
39. At the concert on November 27, 1879, Leonova sang “Pesnia Marfy” [Marfa’s song]. The newspaper Voskresnyi listok muzyki i ob”iavlenii [Sunday leaflet of music and announcements] reported: “Mrs. Leonova and . . . Musorgsky had many curtain calls.” (Reprinted in A. Orlova, Musorgsky’s Days and Works [Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1983], pp. 594-595.)
40. Leonova had been Glinka’s student, in itself a very solid recommendation. Furthermore, she took special voice lessons with the singer Andrei Lodi, who had studied with the Italian school. Her trip to Japan was to promulgate Russian music. The ironic attitude toward Leonova was characteristic of all the members of the circle (Balakirev, Shestakova, and, in part, Stasov).
41. See D. Leonova’s and A. Demidova’s memoirs, below.
42. Fyodor Gridnin was a journalist and a translator. The Balakirev circle regarded him and Leonova with contempt. “Leonova and her companion,” wrote the shocked Shestakova to Stasov, suspecting that they were making a drunkard of Musorgsky.
43. The tour took place in the summer of 1879.
44. The programs of the concerts included works of both Russian composers (Glinka, Dargomyzhsky, Balakirev, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Musorgsky) and West European composers (Chopin, Gounod, and others). The programs had been thoroughly worked out: In the cities where there were no opera theaters or symphony orchestras, Musorgsky and Leonova performed excerpts from opera, including Russian operas, and so introduced the provincial audience to the new works of the composers, especially those of the New Russian school.
45. For details see I. Tiumenev’s recollections, below.
1. “Voldemar” is Vladimir Stasov; Aleksandr Meyer was a friend of the Stasov family.
2. Konstantin Vel’iaminov, a general, was an amateur singer with a bass voice.
3. Musorgsky’s friend Victor Hartmann (1834-1873), a talented architect and artist, died suddenly in June 1873. His death was a shock to Musorgsky (coincidence or not, the first information about Musorgsky’s drinking bouts goes back to the summer of 1873). The piano suite Kartinki s vystavki [Pictures from an exhibition] was dedicated to Hartmann’s memory. The themes were based on Hartmann’s drawings.
4. Vasilii Clark was married to Sofiia, the sister of Vladimir and Dmitrii Stasov. She died in 1857.
5. Vladimir Il’inskii (d. 1890s), a physician and an amateur singer (baritone), was close to the Balakirev circle.
6. See above, note 1 to Filaret Musorgsky’s recollections.
1. Since Borodin’s mother died in the summer of 1873, this took place in the early seventies.
1. M. Saltykov-Shchedrin’s essay “Mezhdu delom” [At odd moments], a parody on the New Russian school, depicts Stasov as the critic “Neuvazhai-Koryto” [Do-Not-Respect-the-Pig’s-Trough] and Musorgsky as the composer “Vasilii Ivanovich.” Signed M.M., it was published in the November 1874 issue of the journal Otechestvennye zapiski [Notes of the fatherland].
2. Nikolai Rubinstein (1835-1881) was the younger brother of the composer and pianist Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894). He was a distinguished pianist and conductor and the founder of the Moscow Conservatory.
3. Stasov wrote to his daughter explaining his being delayed in Petersburg: “I postponed my trip for a whole week. . . . I kept waiting for you; besides, as if on purpose, I had to wait a long time for my money.” (Letter dated July 8, 1875. In V. Stasov, Pis’ma k rodnym [Letters to relatives] [Moscow, 1954], vol. 1, Part 2, p. 241.)
4. During his stay in Paris in the summer of 1875, Stasov mentions Musorgsky in his letters only twice: “As for the good news, I have just received beautiful letters from Musorianin and Shcherbach” [the composer N. Shcherbachev]. (Letter to his brother Aleksandr dated August 14/26, Letters to Relatives, p. 267.) “I am now convinced that he [Repin], despite having several wonderful talents, lacks the talent of imagination, the talent that Hartmann and Musorgsky have in abundance.” (Letter to Dmitrii Stasov, August 17/29, 1875, Letters to Relatives, p. 271.)
5. Stasov’s letters to Musorgsky were published in M. P. Musorgskii, Pis’ma i dokumenty [Letters and documents] (Moscow, 1932).
6. Incorrectly quoted from first sentence of the essay “Pamiati Musorgskogo” [To the memory of Musorgsky], written for the unveiling of the monument on the composer’s grave, November 27, 1885. (In V. Stasov, Stat’i o muzyke [Articles on music] [Moscow, 1977], Part 3, p. 267.)
7. Repin incorrectly quotes and condenses an excerpt from Musorgsky’s letter to V. Stasov dated January 2, 1873.
8. The whole essay, not just the foreword, ends with these words.
9. This quote from Musorgsky’s letter to Repin, dated June 13, 1873, is incomplete and incorrect. It should read: “Keep on pulling, wheelhorse, keep on pulling; the cart is heavy, and there are many jades.” Stasov called Musorgsky, Antokol’skii, and Repin his “troika”; and Musorgsky, in order to underline Repin’s significance in art called him a “wheelhorse” and himself a “trace horse” (in the same letter).
10. Repin painted Musorgsky’s portrait on March 2, 3, 4, and 5, 1881. Aleksandr II was assassinated on March 1.
11. Musorgsky, as well as all his family, makes a mistake about his birthday. He was not born on March 16 but on March 9. He was baptized on March 13. V. Karatygin discovered an entry in the register of births, deaths, and marriages in the church where he was baptized (see also above, note 54 of Stasov’s memoirs).
12. Repin is mistaken: Musorgsky died on March 16, but the sudden turn for the worse happened on March 6.
1. Liudmila Ivanovna Shestakova.
2. Nikolai Alekseevich Lukashevich (1821-after 1894) was the stage manager of the Imperial Theaters. Gennadii Pavlovich Kondrat’ev (1834-1905) was the manager of the Russian opera. Fyodor Kommissarzhevskii (1838-1905), a tenor; Dar’ia Leonova (1829-1896), a contralto; and Osip Petrov (1807-1878), a bass, were artists in Russian opera.
3. See E. Napravnik’s recollections, below, concerning his opinion of Boris Godunov.
4. See L. Shestakova’s Moi vechera [My evenings], above, regarding the rejection of the opera by the committee.
5. Stepan Gedeonov (1815-1878) was an archeologist, a literary historian, and the director of the Imperial Theaters from 1867 to 1875.
6. Platonova’s story is not entirely clear. In her contract for the 1873-1874 season there is no mention of this benefit performance. In S. Gedeonov’s personal papers there is a letter from the singer, dated April 11, 1873, in which she asked that her contract include a clause about a benefit performance and requested that it be a new opera (the author’s name and the title were not specified). Were there other, private letters from her to Gedeonov, which he did not put in the theater files?
7. Platonova is mistaken: the confrontation with the Grand Duke refers to the first presentation. Here is what V. Stasov wrote immediately after the episode described by Platonova, i.e., while he “was hot on the scent”: “The first representation of Boris Godunov was most brilliant. Musorianin was given, if I am not mistaken, between eighteen and twenty curtain calls. In the entire audience, I think only Konstantin Nikolaevich was unhappy (he does not like our school, in general), and it is said that he even forbade his son’s applauding, right there in the theater. Incidentally, perhaps, it was not so much the fault of the music as that of the libretto, where the ‘folk scenes,’ the riot, the scene where the police officer beats the people with his stick so that they cry out begging Boris to accept the throne, and so forth, were jarring to some people and infuriated them. There was no end to applause and curtain calls.” (Letter to his daughter, dated February 2, 1874, in V. Stasov, Pis’ma k rodnym [Letters to relatives] [Moscow, 1954], vol. 1, Part 2, pp. 206-207.) The success was immense: “After each of the seven scenes the vast majority of the audience called for the performers and the author.” (SPB vedomosti [Saint Petersburg news], no. 37, February 6, 1874.)
1. Napravnik could have heard Shaliapin’s first appearance as Boris in 1896, during the tour by Mamontov’s Private Russian Opera in Petersburg.
1. Kruglikov was studying at the Free Music School, and it was through the school that he made Rimsky-Korsakov’s acquaintance and became a close friend. He might have heard Musorgsky’s performance in Rimsky-Korsakov’s house.
1. In the draft of the manuscript, the introductory sentence reads: “Without having won for himself any particular fame or even any recognition for his obvious merits”; and this paragraph contains an additional sentence: “And these talents were undoubtedly considerable. All his life Musorgsky geared these talents toward the realization of tasks which bore in themselves the lively, healthy seeds which sooner or later will bear fruit in the field of Russian musical art.”
2. In the draft of the manuscript there is an additional sentence which was deleted by the author: “Among those who accompanied him was the author of these lines.” The following paragraph begins: “On one hand I am deeply convinced that the seeds I mentioned earlier, which were sown by Musorgsky in the field of Russian art, will not disappear without leaving a trace but sooner or later will bear fruit, and that the name of Musorgsky, in time, will be inscribed in the history of Russian music along with its most honorable names. On the other hand, during the last eight or nine years I enjoyed the particular favor of the deceased, and I had the right to call myself his friend, not in the general sense, but in the real meaning of this word; immediately after Musorgsky’s death, I intended to write, and eventually publish, my personal recollections about him. . . .” From here on, except for minor and unimportant differences, the draft concurs with the final manuscript, which still has some breaks and unfinished sentences.
3. Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s name is mentioned for the first time by Musorgsky in a letter to Stasov dated June 19, 1873. The composer must have made his acquaintance just prior to this date.
4. See Stasov’s recollections, above.
5. Unfortunately, it has been impossible to establish in whose house Golenishchev-Kutuzov and Musorgsky had met. At any rate, it could not have been in a house frequented by the members of the Balakirev circle, for Musorgsky would not have had any reason to recommend Kutuzov to Stasov, since Stasov would have met the poet in the same house (usually all the members of the Balakirev circle were in one house or another). Musorgsky’s circle of acquaintances was extremely wide and spread well beyond the limits of the people known by the Balakirev group.
6. When Golenishchev-Kutuzov moved into Zaremba’s house on Panteleimon Street, Musorgsky had already left. The composer moved there in August 1871; and from September 1 he shared a room with Rimsky-Korsakov. The next summer, just before his marriage, Rimsky-Korsakov moved out, and on September 1, 1872, Musorgsky moved to Shpalernaia Street, to the house where Cui was then living. Rimsky-Korsakov and his wife were living in a house nearby.
7. The song “Tsar’ Saul” [King Saul], based on Byron’s poem and translated by P. Kozlov, was composed in 1863. The song “Noch’ ” [Night], based on a much-altered text by Pushkin, was composed in 1864.
8. Obviously, the author has Stasov in mind. Although Stasov did not have a formal musical education, he was extremely well trained in music.
9. Musorgsky, an ardent lover of the Russian past, could hardly have been “enthusiastic” about Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s verses in their second version, which was as pitiful as the first. A stern critic, Musorgsky was an expert in versification. For instance, his remarks on the manuscript of N. Shcherbachev’s poem “Zabytyi” [Forgotten], an attempt to give a text to Musorgsky’s ballad, and on the manuscript of Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s drama “Smuta ili Vasilii Shuiskii” [Sedition] (Golenishchev-Kutuzov had kept all these materials in his archives) contradict the memorialist’s assertion that Musorgsky sought originality for originality’s sake.
10. Regarding Musorgsky’s agreeing to the deletions in Boris Godunov, Stasov wrote: “Unfortunately this year, our poor Musorgsky is drinking more and more, and at present, he is so fogged by the wine and the fear that his opera will be taken off the stage that he blindly obeys Napravnik and all the singers, men or women, in the Mariinskii Theater . . . he deletes anything they tell him to delete.” (Letter to his daughter, dated February 2, 1874, in V. Stasov, Pis’ma k rodnym [Letters to Relatives] [Moscow, 1954], vol. 1, Part 2, p. 209.) This explanation seems more reliable than Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s comments. For Napravnik’s appraisal of Boris Godunov, see his recollections, above.
11. After the deletion of the scene at Kromy from the presentation, Stasov wrote a sharp article “Urezki v Borise Godunove” [Deletions in Boris Godunov] (letter to the editor of Novoe Vremia [New time], no. 239, October 27, 1879). Although none of Musorgsky’s views about the deletion of the scene at Kromy have been preserved, one readily accepts that the composer shared Stasov’s opinion, otherwise he would have come forth in writing with a refutation on behalf of Napravnik and the Board of Directors immediately after the premiere of the opera, at least for the reason indicated by Stasov (see note 10). In 1876, the composer could have feared seeing his opera taken out of the repertoire for the same reasons as in 1874. Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s quotation of Musorgsky’s alleged words, that in the scene at Kromy the composer “had lied about the Russian people,” does not inspire confidence, not to mention the fact that the expressions used by Musorgsky and quoted by the poet conflict with the composer’s vocabulary. We can, of course, assume that Golenishchev-Kutuzov repeated Musorgsky’s thought in his own words. However, it is utterly unbelievable that the composer would disavow the scene at Kromy. For an artist, especially such a truthful one as Musorgsky, to disavow something he had written was a frightening thought. Undoubtedly it would have been reflected in his correspondence of the time. In the meantime, in 1873, the composer wrote: “I am rereading Solovyov [Sergei Solovyov’s historical work] to become acquainted with this period [i.e., the period of Sof’ia’s reign and the Streltsy riots], as I became acquainted in Boris with the origin of the ‘troubled times’ in the tramps.” [Musorgsky called the scene at Kromy “the tramps.”] (From a letter to V. Stasov, dated September 6, 1873.) Six months later the famous dedication of the opera Boris Godunov appeared: “I view the people as one great individual, animated by one idea. This is my task. I have attempted to resolve it in the opera (January 21, 1874).” In 1876 Musorgsky wrote: “Before Boris I had created some folk scenes. My present wish is to make a prediction which is the following one . . . a realistic melody and not a melodic one in the classical sense. . . .” (From a letter to V. Stasov, dated December 25, 1876.) Does this look like a disavowal of Boris Godunov, or was he talking about the growth he had achieved through it? Incidentally, this letter had been written after the deletion of the scene at Kromy, i.e., after the “renunciation” invented by Golenishchev-Kutuzov. On August 15, 1877 Musorgsky wrote to the poet: “The delight experienced with the musical exposition of Pushkin (in Boris) is renewed with the musical exposition of Gogol’ (in Sorochinskaia [The fair at Sorochintsy])” and “Woe to those whose whim it is to use Pushkin or Gogol’ only for their text!” Where is his rejection of Boris Godunov or, at least, of the scene at Kromy? In Khovanshchina, Musorgsky developed all the elements which were embryonic in Boris Godunov.
12. Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s dramatic chronicle Smuta [Sedition] was dedicated to Musorgsky and obviously written under his influence.
13. During the first season, i.e., from January 27 to February 10, 1874 (the season ended at Lent), Boris Godunov was performed four times.
14. C. Cui and his article about Boris Godunov.
15. There is no evidence to ascribe to Musorgsky the opinion that the music criticism of his time was the voice of “competent judges”; quite the contrary! The quality of music criticism in Petersburg then was very low. Except for the talented and intelligent Laroche—by principle a fiery enemy of the New Russian school—the music criticism of that era astonishes by its dismal mediocrity. (Serov—also an enemy—died in 1871; Stasov at that time rarely voiced his opinion; his article in defense of Boris Godunov was his first article about Musorgsky.)
16. This entire passage is a testimony to the total misunderstanding of Boris Godunov. One is absolutely at a loss to see how Golenishchev-Kutuzov could have said that the Balakirev circle neither appreciated nor understood the great poet. In their works, the composers of the New Russian school demonstrated exactly the opposite. In referring to the “additional rubbish” supposedly included by Musorgsky in the libretto, Golenishchev-Kutuzov seems to be talking about the movement of history, about everyday occurrences, about reality. Musorgsky found material for his opera not only in Pushkin’s tragedy but also in historical works, primarily in Istoriia Gosudarstva Rossiiskogo [History of the Russian state] by Karamzin.
17. The piano suite Kartinki s vystavki [Pictures from an exhibition] is one of Musorgsky’s greatest works. It is far from being a simple “illustration” of Hartmann’s drawings. It is a profoundly philosophical work, a meditation on life and death, on history, on the people, and on man in general. In short, it is much more than Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s perception of this suite. (Incidentally, there are no “kittens” in the suite; the memoirist obviously mistook “Tanets nevylupivshikhsia ptentsov” [Ballet of the unhatched chicks] for “kittens.”)
18. Letter to Stasov, dated November 23, 1875.
19. The piano score of Khovanshchina was published in 1884.
20. Musorgsky lived with Golenishchev-Kutuzov for a very short time: On November 7, 1874, the poet had not yet moved to Shpalernaia Street, since on that date, Musorgsky wrote him a letter in which he regretted being unable to come to see him. On December 29 and on March 7, 1875, the composer wrote letters to Golenishchev-Kutuzov in the country. In February, Golenishchev-Kutuzov left for the country after receiving a telegram from his mother. Therefore, he was in Petersburg in January (the exact day is unknown) and part of February. It is only at that time that he could have moved to Shpalernaia Street. An undated letter from the poet to his mother is believed to date from that time: “I want to find an apartment. At Musorgsky’s it is cramped and cold. I hope to drag him along with me.” (Quoted in M. P. Musorgskii, Pis’ma k Golenishchevu-Kutuzovu [Letters to Golenishchev-Kutuzov] [Moscow, 1939], p. 33.) After returning from the country, not earlier than March 10, Golenishchev-Kutuzov moved to Galernaia Street. But on May 11, 22, and 25, Musorgsky wrote to him in Tver’. In the first half of June, Golenishchev-Kutuzov was in Petersburg (Musorgsky mentioned him in his letter to Stasov dated June 13, 1875); and on June 27, Musorgsky announced to Shestakova that he was going to move from Shpalernaia Street. Apprently about July 1, he did move to Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s apartment on Galernaia Street. Near the end of July the poet left, and Musorgsky moved in with P. Naumov; he did not live with Golenishchev-Kutuzov after this. Therefore, Musorgsky lived with Golenishchev-Kutuzov on Shpalernaia Street a little bit longer than a month, and they lived together for about another month on Galernaia Street. The cycle Bez solntsa [Sunless] (six and not five songs) was composed between May 7 and August 25, 1874; the ballad “Zabytyi” [Forgotten] was composed in May of the same year. On September 2, 1874, “Vstuplenie (Rassvet na Moskve-reke)” [Introduction. Dawn on the Moscow River] was written for Khovanshchina. Musorgsky wrote the first scene (the scene of the clerk with the recently arrived newcomers) on January 2, 1875; the first act was completed on July 30; between August and December, he wrote the beginning of the second act; and on December 31, the beginning of the third act. In other words, while living with Golenishchev-Kutuzov, Musorgsky wrote almost nothing for Khovanshchina (of course, this does not preclude his thinking about the opera).
21. Among Musorgsky’s unfinished works, there are outlines for a song “Krapivnaia gora” (“Rak”) [The hill of nettles (The crab)], based on Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s words. It dates from 1874.
22. Golenishchev-Kutuzov carefully kept not only all the letters from Musorgsky but even notes of no importance and other autographs by him. The letters from which the poet quotes these words are not in his archives.
23. No trace of these scenes can be found in the manuscript of Khovanshchina.
24. It is unknown what nonprogrammatic piano pieces the poet is talking about.
25. The opera Sorochinskaia Iarmarka [The fair at Sorochintsy], based on Gogol’s novel, was begun during the summer of 1874 and was being created simultaneously with Khovanshchina; it was not completed. Golenishchev-Kutuzov collaborated on the libretto; in his archives there is an outline in verse for “Rasskaz o krasnoi svitke” [Story of the red svitka (a Ukranian garment)] (Muzykal’noe nasledstvo [Musical heritage] [Moscow, 1935], p. 48).
26. There is no information about Musorgsky’s intention to write an opera on the seventeenth-century “Povest’ o Savve Grudtsyne” [Tale of Savva Grudtsyn] or on “Vii” by Gogol’. Except for their being mentioned by Golenishchev-Kutuzov, there is no trace of these projects.
27. In 1872 S. Gedeonov, the Director of the Imperial Theaters, commissioned Borodin, Musorgsky, Cui, and Rimsky-Korsakov to write an opera-ballet called “Mlada.” This project was never completed, although all the composers worked on it. “Marsh kniazei” [The march of the princes] and “Sluzhenie chyornomu kozlu” [Worship of the black he-goat] are from Musorgsky’s pen. It is at a later date that Rimsky-Korsakov composed an opera-ballet Mlada.
28. The sudden change for the worse in Musorgsky’s condition began after March 6; three days prior to his death paralysis struck him.
29. The brothers Matvei (1794-1866) and Mikhail Viel’gorskii (1788-1856)—a cellist and a composer—were enlightened patrons of art. They played a great role in the musical life of Russia in the first half of the nineteenth century.
1. The father of the composer N. Cherepnin was Nikolai Cherepnin, a well-known physician and journalist who wrote for the radical press. Evgraf Golovin, also a physician, was Borodin’s pupil.
2. Musorgsky lived in Oranienbaum in Leonova’s dacha during the last summer of his life (1880) and while there he worked on Khovanshchina.
3. Musorgsky regarded Gorbunov highly. After listening to Gorbunov in a folk scene, the composer wrote to him: “Keep on the same artistic path; stay with the same force for truth, love, and spontaneity” (letter written during the night of January 4-5, 1880). Musorgsky wrote the musical piece, “Privet Gorbunovu” [Greetings to Gorbunov] for the twenty-first anniversary of “the national Russian artist.”) Polnoe sobraniie sochinenii Musorgskogo [Musorgsky’s complete works], vol. 5, Part 10, p. 43.)
1. Sergei Maksimov (1831-1901) was an ethnographer and a writer.
2. The famous playwright Aleksandr Ostrovskii (1823-1886).
1. Mikhail Valuev (1823-1897) was an employee in the Harbor Customs Office; his wife was named Mariia, nee Iudina (d. 1901). They had two sons—Pavel and Fyodor (d. 1917), both communications engineers—and a daughter, Elizaveta.
2. Musorgsky apparently moved to the Valuevs’ toward the end of 1879 and lived there a short time, but the length of his stay has not been established. Most likely he lived there during the winter and moved to furnished rooms in the spring. From a letter Rimsky-Korsakov wrote to Stasov about Musorgsky’s visit of May 10 dated May 11, 1880, we can conclude that Musorgsky lived by himself, i.e., in furnished rooms. (See N. Rimskii-Korsakov, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Literaturnye proizvedeniia i perepiska [Complete Works, Literary works and correspondence] [Moscow, 1963], vol. 5, p. 370.
1. This episode can be dated to the summer of 1879 or 1880.
1. Aleksandr’s brother Nikolai (1843-1917), a painter, was the husband of A[leksandra] Purgold.
2. Aleksandr Molas errs; the Free Music School had no ties with the Conservatory.
3. This concert of the Free Music School was held on March 23, 1876, under the direction of Rimsky-Korsakov (see also the memoirs of A. Molas [nee] Purgold and Tiumenev, below).
4. The first public performance of “Sirotka” [The orphan] took place on March 3, 1874 with A. Kruglikova as soloist. At the second performance, on April 23, 1875, the soloist was Makhina. There is no information about the “failure” of this song, nor can it be assumed that the singers did not perform it in the declamatory manner that was intrinsic to A. Molas, but in an academic one. The shattering impression left by A. Petrova-Vorobyova’s rendition of “The Orphan” is described by the author himself, by Shestakova, and by Turgenev (in a letter to Pauline Viardot). (See also the recollections of V. Stasov and of Shestakova, above.)
5. See note 2.
6. Molas errs: Vasil’ev the Second was a tenor. Pimen’s part was sung by Vasil’ev the First, a bass.
7. Musorgsky began to compose The Fair at Sorochintsy in 1875.
8. See Repin’s memoirs, above.
1. This statement is inaccurate: The Purgold sisters met Musorgsky on March 5, 1868; the idea of Boris Godunov dates from the fall of the same year.
2. Aleksandra Purgold married Nikolai Molas on November 11, 1872.
3. Glazunov began to visit the Molases soon after Musorgsky’s death.
4. Compare with N. Purgold’s entry in her diary for April 30, 1870: “I am convinced that some of Musorgsky’s pieces would never have been written were it not for Sasha. Without realizing it himself he wrote his ‘kids’ (Detskaia [The nursery]) only because of her and for her, because he knew very well that she was the only one who could perform them as they should be performed. By her performance, she inspires the others.” (A. Rimskii-Korsakov, N. A. Rimskii-Korsakov, Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo [N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, life and work] [Moscow, 1935], Part 2, p. 96.)
1. Dargomyzhsky’s piano score for Kamennyi gost’ [The stone guest] is kept in the Tsentral’nyi muzei muzykal’noi kultury imeni Glinki [Central Museum of Musical Culture named for Glinka] in Moscow. The dedication is by V. Bessel’: “To Modest Petrovich Musorgsky from the Publisher. January 22, 1872.” On the same sheet Musorgsky had written the date of the premiere and the names of the performers. Underneath he added: “German text according to Bodenstedt [Alexander Puschkin Dramatische Werke, Berlin, 1855], copied by me in June, 1872. M. Musorgsky.” In this copy Musorgsky added the German text in pencil (A. Orlova, Musorgsky’s Days and Works, pp. 255 and 271). Apparently the German text for Listz had been included in a different piano score.
1. Musorgsky’s copyright was given to Tertii Filippov, who gave Bessel’ the right to publish Musorgsky’s works without any royalties. If Stasov paid Musorgsky’s debts, he did it out of his own pocket. It is Stasov again who made the largest contribution for the monument.
2. This statement is inaccurate: Musorgsky was dismissed from the Government Control on January 1, 1880, as he was no longer able to work.
1. “Plyvyot, plyvyot lebyodushka” [The swan glides on the water] is the chorus honoring Khovanskii in Scene 1, Act 4 (Khovanskii’s chambers), of the opera Kovanshchina.
1. Rozhdestvenskii was a professor at Petersburg University.
2. Druri’s identity has not been established.
3. See recollections by A. A. Vrubel’, above.
4. Larin is mentioned by Musorgsky in a list of people who were to receive tickets for the opera Boris Godunov. He is also mentioned in a letter to Golenishchev-Kutuzov, dated August 17, 1875. Musorgsky includes Larin among the people who visited the Naumov family, with whom the composer lived after Golenishchev-Kutuzov’s departure for the country. Since no additional information about this person is available, it is difficult to establish the exact time span mentioned later.
5. Iakov Polonskii (1819-1898) was a famous poet.
6. “Kol’ slaven nash Gospod’ v Sione” is an Orthodox hymn.
7. The memorial concert for Dostoevsky was held on February 4. This was not the next to the last appearance by Musorgsky. He appeared twice more as accompanist, both times on February 9: in a concert in the editorial office of the newspaper Novoe vremia [New time], and in a musical evening for the benefit of needy students of the Art Academy.
1. The concert was held on April 6, 1880.
1. Leonova refers to the performance on February 5, 1873, of three scenes. She had the role of the hostess of the inn (see below). Neither Khovanshchina nor Sorochinskaia Iarmarka [The fair at Sorochintsy] was completed.
2. The two scenes (in the inn and in Marina’s boudoir) scheduled for Leonova’s farewell benefit performance were not performed because Kommissarzhevskii was ill (he was to perform the role of the Pretender).
3. Leonova had made a worldwide concert tour.
4. The Naumov family.
5. The concert tour of the summer of 1879. the spring of 1880, Leonova and Musorgsky went to Tver’.
6. Three-part exercises without words have been preserved: Andante cantabile, Largo, and Andante giusto. Also preserved are arrangements of two Russian folk songs for male chorus in four voices: “U vorot, vorot batiushkinykh” [By father’s gates] and “Ty vzoidi, vzoidi, solntse krasnoe” [Rise, beautiful sun]; a rearrangement for two tenor voices (soli) and male chorus of the song “Uzh ty, volia, moia volia” [O! Thou, my freedom]; and a rearrangement for four male voices of the song “Skazhi, devitsa molodaia” [Tell me, young girl].
7. February 10, 1881.
8. Musorgsky was admitted to the hospital on February 12, 1881.
1. The translation has not been preserved.
2. For details about Musorgsky’s funeral see Tiumenev’s recollections, below.
1. See M. Ivanov’s obituary, above.
2. A monograph by K. Wolfurt, Musorgsky’s German biographer, provides additional information. The author reports that after Filaret Musorgsky, the composer’s brother, visited him in the hospital, “ ‘Something sad happened,’ the then-75-year-old Leningrad physician Dr. Bertenson told me personally in 1926. Filaret had left the composer some money; the composer, without knowledge of the hospital administration, sent for wine and drank himself to oblivion. This immediately provoked a terrible catastrophe. Musorgsky became mortally ill with erysipelas. True, on March 15 he felt better, and he and all his friends hoped for the best. But this was only a spark from his last vital forces. On March 16, at five o’clock in the morning, he twice uttered a loud cry and then died. His adipose heart refused to keep on working. None of his relatives or friends were with him at the end. Two hospital attendants paid him the last respects and closed his eyes.” (K. Wolfurt, Mussorgskij [Stuttgart, 1927], p. 128; translated from the German.)
1. Glazunov “appeared on the horizon” the year of Musorgsky’s death.
2. Ippolitov-Ivanov is mistaken; in 1881, Musorgsky was already dead, so this story must refer to the winter of 1879-1880. It is possible that that was when Ippolitov-Ivanov met Musorgsky.
3. This statement is inaccurate: Glazunov’s friendship with Laroche came later. At the time of this incident, Glazunov had not yet appeared on the musical scene.
4. The actual date was December 11, 1881. Napravnik wrote in his notebook: “Boris Godunov was resumed with great success.” (A. Orlova, M. P. Musorgsky’s Days and Works, p. 664.)
1. Nikolai Rubinstein died on March 11, 1881.
2. See L. Bertenson’s recollections, above.
3. Musorgsky’s copyrights were officially given to T. Filippov on March 14.
4. The description of Musorgsky’s funeral has been deleted from Ivanov’s obituary. For additional details, see I. Tiumenev’s recollections, below.
5. Musorgsky’s portrait by Repin was exhibited during the Ninth Traveling Exhibit in Petersburg on March 17, 1881. After this, the portrait was acquired by P. Tret’iakov; it is now located in the Tret’iakov Gallery in Moscow.
6. Nothing is known about this intention.
7. Musorgsky’s participation in the musical morning of February 9.
8. It is obvious that Ivanov got his information from someone else. Musorgsky’s drinking bouts began much earlier.
9. In Ivanov’s assertions one sees his animosity toward Stasov.
10. Stasov was outraged that Ivanov made Musorgsky’s alcoholism public. Stasov’s obituary states that Musorgsky died of erysipelas. It is interesting to notice that this version is still repeated today. Thus, Mikhail Goldstein (Hamburg) categorically proclaims in his article “Inakomysliashchii Modest Musorgskii” [Modest Musorgsky, the heretic]: “He died ... of erysipelas of the leg and not of any of the other illnesses which were ascribed to the composer”) Novoe russkoe slovo [New Russian word], April 26, 1981). But Musorgsky’s contemporaries thought that concealing his illness was senseless. “An unfortunate weakness for alcohol,” according to Repin, “was the main reason for his early death.” “Remember how many times you saved him from this poisoning,” Repin wrote to Stasov, on June 14, 1881, “how you sobered him up, how you took care of him and how with all sorts of remedies you brought him back to his previous human, artistic creativity—this man who had become a half-idiot with shaking hands. . . . Why should one hide this distressing fact? It was known to almost everybody who knew him.” (I. Repin, Izbrannye pis’ma [Selected letters], 2 vols. (Moscow, 1969), vol. 1, p. 258.)
1. Rimsky-Korsakov was then head of the Free Music School, which had been founded in 1862 by Balakirev and Gavriil Lomakin, the famous choir conductor.
2. The scene in the cell was not performed in the theater. The censors had forbidden its staging.
3. Borodin was writing the opera Kniaz’ Igor’ [Prince Igor]. He died without completing it.
4. Rimsky-Korsakov completed the opera Maiskaia Noch’ [May night] in 1879.
5. V. Vasil’ev the First, a bass, was a soloist in the Mariinskii Theater.
6. V. Vasil’ev the Second, a tenor, was a soloist at the same theater.
7. During the concert at the Free Music School, on November 13, 1879, the following were performed: excerpts from the new version of Pskovitianka [The maid of Pskov]; excerpts from Kniaz’ Igor’ [Prince Igor]; Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, Berlioz’ overture Benvenuto Cellini, and Liszt’s fantasy on Verdi’s Rigoletto.
8. The second concert of the season at the Free Music School was held on November 27, 1879. For this event, Rimsky-Korsakov orchestrated “Pliaska persidok” [The Persian dance] by Musorgsky.
9. A friend of Tiumenev’s whose identity has not been established.
10. Mikhail Berman, a choir conductor and leader of the Dumskii Circle.
11. All these prominent figures died about the same time. Dostoevsky and Pisemskii were writers; N. Rubinstein was a pianist and a conductor; and Azanchevskii was at one time Director of the Petersburg Conservatory.
12. Filaret Musorgsky.
13. It was not S. Botkin who took care of Musorgsky but L. Bertenson, then a young physician.
14. Musorgsky was paid for composing Khovanshchina.
15. A choir conductor.
16. Nadezhda Nikolaevna Rimskaia-Korsakova, the composer’s wife.
17. Karl Davydov (1838-1889) was a famous cellist, a conductor, and a composer. At one time he was Director of the Petersburg Conservatory.
18. I. Mel’nikov (bass), M. Kamenskaia (mezzo-soprano), and I. Prianishnikov (baritone) were artists at the Mariinskii Theater.
19. Aleksandr, Vladimir, and Dmitrii Stasov.
20. N. Solovyov was a music critic, a composer, and a professor at the Petersburg Conservatory. He was the sworn enemy of the New Russian school.
21. Slonovaia was the former name of Suvorov Prospekt.
22. A singer.
23. These ribbons had been embroidered by Musorgsky’s admirers for the premiere of Boris Godunov.
24. Aleksandr II had been assassinated on March 1.
25. Tiumenev was studying in the Art Academy.
26. Musorgsky regularly participated in concerts for the benefit of the students of the Art Academy. His last public appearance was for the students of the Academy.
27. F. Stravinskii (bass), F. Velinskaia (soprano), and O. Shreder (Napravnik’s wife, a mezzo-soprano) were artists at the Mariinskii Theater.
28. Vasilii Maksimov was a painter.
29. The Bestuzhev Courses was the name of an institution of higher education for women. Musorgsky participated in concerts for the benefit of the Courses. Borodin was their active organizer.
30. Grigorii Lishin was a composer and a translator.
31. These leaves are pasted in Tiumenev’s diary.