Neskol’ko slov o Musorgskom
A Few Words about Musorgsky
Nikolai Bruni (1856-1935) was a painter. These memoirs were written at the behest of Andrei Rimsky-Korsakov but were never used.
. . .
[In 1877-1878 Musorgsky participated in the evenings at the Valuevs’.1]
The house was often filled with guests who formed the circle which Musorgsky frequented and which he considered his own; he obviously had a good time and could enjoy himself. . . . Theater, concerts, exhibits, home performances, and live tableaux were held. There were also modest but very lively balls. . . .
Usually rather pensive, extremely unassuming, almost shy, he would become amazingly animated when he sat down at the piano and played at our request. I especially remember one evening when, during the show which followed the live tableaux, surrounded by the young people, he sat down at the piano, lost in thought. We quieted down and waited; and suddenly wonderful sounds, full of inexpressible passion and force, unusually lively and enticing, began to flow from his hands. It was Glinka’s Kamarinskaia.
[The young people who met at the Valuevs’ home included the painter Mikhail Vrubel’, who was later to become famous, and his sister.]
In order not to wake the adults, we would just gather up the leftovers from dinner and sit down and talk very softly. Musorgsky, who lived at the Valuevs’,2 would appear unexpectedly. Dressed in a robe and slippers, holding the flaps of his robe with one hand, he would give us a friendly smile as he approached the dresser, where he opened a well-known door. Then he would take out a carafe of brandy, pour himself a small glass, drink it, and after keeping us company for a bit, he would silently leave. . . . At that time, he looked very much like the portrait Repin painted of him. . . .
In my memory Musorgsky will always be a quiet, pensive, unassuming person, leading a different life—the one where creativity overpowers everything else. He somehow stood aside.