Maria V. Yudina
Letter One: To Elena Gnessina
August 13, 1949
Dear and precious Elena Fabianovna,
For a long time I have been thinking of writing
to you every single day. In hospital, still in very poor state, I all over
the sudden very distinctly and clearly remembered you, and I felt that
you were much closer and dearer to me than it can be judged from our daily
lives, than it is revealed on the surface of our feelings. Then I thought
you might be in Barvikha, and the death of Dimitrov might have deeply affected
you, and from there on I started thinking about you again - as if "a heart
was addressing another heart". On the day I returned to Moscow their was
a phone call from Galina Mavrikiyevna and Mikhail Fabianovich, they asked
about my health, but little did they know I would come to visit them in
person. Then I learned everything about you, I was appalled at your illness
and was terribly happy to learn you were out of town at last. I hope you
enjoy it in Arkhangelskoye and you precious health has been restored.
Once in Moscow I could not write to you right
away either, since almost all the 11 days I had between the clinic (i.e.
my return from Leningrad) and my departure to Sortavala, I stayed in bed
and couldn't possibly get down to letters. While here, on my arrival, I
"fell upon" all the blessings I haven seen for so long: silence, woods,
the expanses of lakes, and - to my shame - I didn't notice how a half -
10 days - of my holidays had flown by! Excuse me, for God's sake, my dear
Elena Fabianovna, you, who we all infinitely revere, and will you except
my best wishes of good health and much strength. I love and respect you
more than you can imagine, but forgive me, if-rather like Shakespeare's
Cordelia -1 love you without speaking about it...
I would never dare cast on this purely lyrical
message even a shadow of business-like appeal or anything of the sort,
but the subject I am going to expend upon is quite a different matter and
it may only distantly resemble such an appeal. Let me approach the subject-matter
in as few words as possible: quite unexpectedly I got as my travel companions
to Sortavala two young composers and theoreticians - M.Meyerovich and A.Lokshin.
I had heard of them, their extensive knowledge and a wonderful duo from
many excellent musicians - but what I saw in reality went beyond all expectations
of mine. Because it's difficult to speak about two persons at once, I'll
write about Lokshin first. He is, no doubt, a man of genius. In what respects?
Almost all of them: whether it be his compositions, which I barely now,
but the "hand" they are written in shows what they are; his mind - and
I have met, dear Elena Fabianovna, some of the cleverest people of our
age and I have spoken to them; his intelligence; his unpretentiousness;
his artistic potential...
Not to win him over for us, for your Institute,
it means to miss a great event, without understanding and appreciating
it. Everything comes easy to him in the domain of art, as, in a different
sense - to Mozart. That's the secret of his mysterious and immensely powerful
influence; I can imagine how students should idolize him - they ought to
be given more poetry, since they have had too much of prose... What is
it he can do? Absolutely anything: theory, harmony, instrumentation, composition,
score reading, musical literature, and, finally, ensemble. At any faculty.
He is only 29 years old and for the time being he could occupy the modest
position of an assistant. He has no "stigmas" attached to him - he worked
at the Conservatoire, then there were mere economy efforts, which resulted
in redundancy - and besides, there's no one Sveshpikov and On/id would
acknowledge, like, or value. His invitation will pass quite safely, I am
sure. Some more information about him: Myaskovsky's pupil, he graduated
in 1944 and worked as assistant; he's a Jew; the man is extremely seriously
ill (he lives with only a tiny piece of his stomach...) but his attitude
to his illness is courageous and cheerful, which is just what should attract
attention to him... And, by the way, may be owing to all this, he is a
person of a particularly sparkling temperament - in a word, a person quite
to the taste and style of our dear Mikhail Fabianovich, whom I am writing
to separately just after you, - as well as to Yuri Vladimirovich. Of course,
I am going to write to them about the second person - also an excellent
musician - Meyerovich. But if you have only one vacancy, take Lokshin.
If it is the ensemble course -1 will gladly
hand to him my "half of it, and I will remain with the vocalists' half,
or Yuri Vladimirovich will settle everything the way he thinks is right
- but, of course, there's nothing he cannot do. Dear Elena Fabianovna,
once again I wish you all, all the best. So sorry. Thank you. Yours always
Letter Two: To Mikhail Gnessin
Sortavala, August 16, 1949
Dear Mikhail Fabianovich,
If only I knew your whereabouts! Is it Kazan,
Pestovo, Moscow or somewhere else? I hope you had a rest, you had recovered
from the worries of Moscow winter, your heart beats more calmly, and may
be you even managed to get down to work? Before my departure I received
a wonderful bunch of flowers from Galina Mavrikiyevna. I was very touched
by it, I took it with me, and between the train from Moscow and the one
to Sortavala I paid a five-minute visit to visit Lubov Vasilyevna Shaporina.
There was her grand-daughter's birthday party - Sonechka turned ten and
I gave her the flowers, as I didn't know anything about the birthday and
I couldn't possibly think of a present because of the lack of time. Thus
I was not alone to who Galina Mavrikiyevna extended affection by her charming
gesture. Thank her wholeheartedly. As for me, at the Finlandsky Station
I almost immediately received a "recompense" in the shape of another bunch
of flowers. An hour earlier there had arrived young gentlemen from Moscow
- Lokshin and Meyerovich, who accompanied me further to Sortavala. Bunin,
who had just had a marriage, didn't come to meet them and hence I got Bunin's
It's the young men, not the flowers I am going
to tell you about, dear Mikhail Fabianovich! I had already written a letter
to Eiena Fabianovna - although I deeply regret the fact that I did not
manage to write a purely lyrical letter I had envisaged in the clinic -
I didn't manage to write it in Moscow either, since I spend all 11 day
being laid up. It was only in the last 2 days that I felt better, and in
Sortavala I suddenly found myself in good health, I rushing on waters and
trough the woods, and forgot everything! But there were some Intermezzos,
associated with the Muscovites and it is the subject of this letter. But
wait: it so happened, that Elena Fabianovna, unfortunately, received a
twofold letter - with the first part expressing my most sincere feelings
about her, and the second - concerned with those people; besides, you and
I had never been in written correspondence. That's the way it was considered
"proper" - therefore it is not surprising that I am impelled to write to
you by a matter of utmost importance. Well!
The Intermezzos were of two sorts: our trio
and Lokshin's illness. In short: Extraordinary, fabulous erudition they
both have, and the danger of complete wreck, with its dark wings spread
above an artist who is not even 29 years old yet...
To be more specific: we must drag them into
the Institute. Let us speak of Lokshin first. The man has no doubt a gift
of genius; I don't know much about his compositions yet, but even the extract
which he showed to me was wonderful, modern and written on a large scale.
In the world of music he is so much in his element, that I have hardly
seen anyone else like him. No matter which epoch or style, he plays from
memory: Symphonies, quartets, vocal music, anything you wish. He plays
brilliantly and immediately, in an offhand manner comments on the piece
emphasizing that or another, but always an essential feature of it. (He
can hear 13 sounds in a chord.) There was something about his ebullience
and sincerity, which very much reminded me of you, dear Mikhail Fabianovich...
Some information about him: a pupil of Myaskovsky
- the favourite one; graduate of 1943 (may be I am wrong, and it was 1944);
a member of the Composers Union from 1941; a Jew; from 1944 to 1948 he
worked as assistant at the Conservatoire; he was dismissed without being
mentioned personally in the order, and he escaped the peculiarities of
that year- it was done under the pretext of mere staff reduction, but apparently,
even this is not indicated, so the question causes no concerns; in Novosibirsk
Mravinsky has performed - with a great success - one of his symphonic compositions.
He can read any subject in theory or composition at any department: Theory,
harmony, instrumentation (he would very much like this one), score reading,
musical literature, and ensemble. I would gladly give up my ensemble course,
and let him do my "half, for I believe he is better than I -people like
him are sometimes very mature. It's just that he could be more helpful
in the relation to other subjects, perhaps. Just to think about it... Mira
Bruk and Lokshin... Shall we give the students a mess of pottage or the
water of life and Champaign? It's all quite clear...
Add to this a personal aspect: he lives without
his stomach, 3/4 of it he has had excised - there is, in fact, only the
soul... We must, we ought to take care and cherish such people - while
he just makes his living depending on whether he can "flog" something to
the Radio from time to time... It is terrible... You can talk about him
to Nikolai Yakovlevich, if you wish... Let our institute absorb all the
best, the most britiant, vibrant, propeltant of future while, thank God,
our precious Elena Fabianovna herself is still in charge!
You, my dear Mikhail Fabianovich, with your
insightful, keen sense of future, with your sensitivity to truth and life
- more than anybody else you can appreciate and come to love such a rare
person, and help him and the cause in the way I have indicated. He is in
Sortavala until the end of this month. Moscow telephone: D-3-00-80 ext.
146 (How odd - for half a year we lived in the same town or courtyard,
and we had never met!) I had heard of him for a long time: he was laid
up with the ulcer for 7 years...I also heard of his tremendous duo with
Well, the car is leaving for town...The clock
has stopped in the house, and last night the lights went out, hence everything
is done by guess-work. I have been writing since 6 a.m., and as the trains
are on alternate days, I am anxious not to miss one, and therefore I have
to finish this message...
Don't be cross with me, dear Mikhail Fabianovich,
for the matter can not be alien to you. As for Muromtsev, to avoid upsetting
him ("Something is done behind his back!"), I am writing to him separately
to his home address. Thank you and Galina Mavrikiyevna for everything.
It was very touching indeed, and now I am also presenting her with imaginary
flowers and it's with the flowers that I conclude my letter. Life is wonderful
after all... I embrace you both with all my heart. Again, I am sorry. Yours
always M.V.Yudina. I wish all the best to you both.
P.S. By the way, it was here that we were
alarmed: what if his disease was getting'' worse? I and Meyerovich even
wondered if we would have to take him to Moscow. Thank God, everything
turned out all right. That was during the illness that I learned about
the hardship of his life - which, of course, he never complained about.
On the contrary - it's all "excellent" for him, as, in fact, are his knowledge
Letter Three: To Nikolai Myaskovsky
Sortavala, August 19, 1949
Dear Nikolai Yakovlevich,
I was fortunate to spend some time in Sortavala
with your former student Alexander Lazarevich Lokshin and a friend of his,
Misha Meyerovich. I got a chance to listen to their famous duo in various
capacities, as well as to endless streams of music - very different pieces,
played from memory. When Alexander Lazarevich showed me some of his works
- not too many, unfortunately, - and when on different occasions he expressed
in conversation various ideas, inimitable in their depth and originality,
thus incidentally, as it might seem, revealing his rare, diverse erudition
- the scale and importance of his personality began to sparkle with due
intensity. You know that better than I do, Nikolai Yakovlevich. Of course,
there is something else you know better: how fragile a shell contains his
extraordinary soul, and how hard the life has been on him...
I suppose, every attentive onlooker, just
like me, in the circumstances would be prompted to do one's best to take
some burden off him. I am still working at the Gnesin Institute yet. I
wrote to Elena Fabianovna and Mikhail Fabianovich about my impressions
and plans associated with Alexander Lazarevich. That is, I strongly suggested
that they should invite him to read a theoretic subject at whichever department,
and to lead the ensemble class (for, as you know perfectly well, his performing
art is just as brilliant). But will they listen to me?.. The world of Gnesins
-it's, in a sense, a petty world of people linked to each other in some
way or another. Otherwise they need to be addressed by an authoritative
voice. May I say that in my opinion, your appeal to one of them, either
written or verbal, would have a decisive effect on them. It's the best
time for it now - before the new academic year begins, or immediately after
it starts. It's a huge complex, isn't it? Just like in the Moscow State
Conservatoire, apart from the Institute itself there are many other possibilities.
But it must be clearly dinned into their minds, that all will have to thank
their lucky stars if the teaching staff is joined by a person like our
mutual friend Alexander Lazarevich. I am not sure I'll show him this letter
of mine. When I mentioned it, he objected vigorously, asked me not to [unreadable
fragment], and not only he, but Meyerovich also said that you had been
doing so much to him all the time, that you would not need me to "prompt"
you in a way. But, dear Nikolai Yakovlevich, you will not take this letter
tor a prompting, will you? It's just that in the last three weeks of daily
contacts it became all too obvious for me, how fragile the shell is, and
how much it needs to be strengthened, and that often we have to act against
people's will for their own benefit. As for the uncommonly kind attitude
you have shown to him, I became aware of it as from many things I was told,
as from what was passed over in silence - that's why I hope that you will
understand me, Nikolai Yakovlevich. I enclose here the telephones of Elena
Fabianovna and Mikhail Fabianovich.
Unfortunately, I am invited from Sortavala
to play in Riga, and won't be present in Moscow precisely during the most
important days preceding the start of the academic year, but, if you allow
me, immediately after my return on 8-10. IX I shall inquire what will come
of the whole business.Will you accept my best wishes and assurance of my
M.V.Yudina, Moscow [address details]
Letter Four: To Nikolai Myaskovsky
Sortavala, August 20, 1949
Dear Nikolai Yakovlevich,
I wrote to you to Nikolina Gora, presuming
that you were still out of town, but then I decided to send a few words
on the crux of the matter to you Moscow address. In Sortavala I met Alexander
Lazarevich Lokshin, and I was greatly impressed with the power and rank
of his musical talent, as well as with the whole complex of his troubled
life. I believe, it would be good for him if he tried to return to his
teaching practice - at least in order to make his daily life easier. I
wrote about him to Elena Fabianovna and Mikhail Fabianovich al the best
I could think of, and most importantly I wrote that he was your pupil and
that you were so sympathetic of him. (I've just realized I was so absent-minded
to forget to enclose their telephones in that letter - here they are: Elena
Fabianovna - K-5-45-05, Mikhail Fabianovich - G-1-63-71.) An authority,
of course, is something that matters and your opinion of Alexander Lokshin
is, no doubt, immeasurably more important than mine generally, and in the
eyes of the Gnesins. How wonderful it would be if he was invited to the
Gnesin Institute in Vorovsky Street - you know better than I do about his
unlimited pedagogical potential. Your phone call might have a decisive
Our mutual friend himself flatly objected
against my writing the letter, and he said that everything you had ever
done for him - only the best - was done at your own will, and then you
would even conceal your kind deeds. But I venture to step over his resistance,
and I believe you won't condemn me, dear Nukolai Yakovlevich. I believe,
no evil can ever come of good intentions, and to my thinking the Gnesins
have to be pressed on this issue... Anyway, will you forgive me and accept
my expression of immutable respect.
M.V.Yudina, Moscow [address details]
Letter Five: To Elena Gnessina
August 31, 1949
Dear and precious Elena Fabianovna,
I feel obliged to inform you that being so
adviced by Elena Ivanovna Perlatova, I, just in case, discussed with A.S.IIyukhin
his proposal to A.L.Lokshin to teach "instrumentations and arrangements"
at the Faculty of Folk Instruments. Having contacted Lokshin in telegraphic
style, I obtained his consent, but he was literary "dismayed and saddened".
Omitting the latter circumstance, as I was advised by Nikolai Yakovlevich
Myaskovsky (who takes keen interest in what concerns his wonderful disciple),
I told Yilyukhin about Lokshin's consent, just in case. It's such a disproportion
however, as if, say, Richter was invited to lead the group of trombonist
at the Institute...
I am telling you about this "excuse" you may
wish to have "in reserve", just to make sure that when "radiant" llyukhin
will inform you about Lokshin's consent, you will not\ be easily led to
believe that everything has been fixed up already. I hope, today you and
Yuri Vladimirovich, and Mikhail Fabianovich will find something appropriate
for Lokshin at the department of theory (or history). I'll tell llyukhin
about his proposal being turned down, thus getting all the blame for the
indiscretion, while he will only loose 1-2 days before he find's somebody
else [to fill the vacancy]. I will do as you have told me and I will come
to see you today at 4.30 p.m. Do forgive my inevitable hastiness in relation
to this problem - the future, i.e. Lokshin's contribution, will prove that
it is justified.
Yours faithfully M.V.Yudina.
Letter Six: To Elena Gnessina
September 5, 1949, Institute
Dear and precious Elena Fabianovna,
It is terrible that I have to make you worry
about the Lokshin's case, but the whole affair takes quite an odd turn,
as I was told by P. A. Bondarenko (and I was exactly 5 minutes late and
he didn't wait to see me).
Are they mixing up "politics" into it? But
Lokshin is not involved in anything of the sort, he is clean and is not
to be held responsible for any of the so called "uncalled-for words", or
my reputation of "politically uneducated person".
It means that Muromtsev has shown his distrust
to me and the Institute (which, as you know, I love and treasure) will
no longer need my presence. Obviously, if the invitation of Lokshin does
not go in quite as easy, peaceful and trouble-free a manner, as you intended,
and as it was suggested by some highly reputable musicians, i.e. the only
way it should go to the glory of the Russian art and your Institute, -
while already the whole thing or initiative has been given a negative interpretation
- then there will be no other moral and dignified way to act for me, but
to leave the Institute myself...
It is very sad, but may be it will make everyone's
life easier? Most importantly, I wont you to feel comfortable and contented,
and as far as you are concerned, dear Elena Fabianovna, I am only grateful
for your approach to the problem in question. I hope, Muromtsev will realize
one day how wrong his present position has been, and the whole thing will
end peacefully... Otherwise, of course, it would be better if I left, for
how can one go on with one's work, facing such a mistrust?
Forgive me. Yours most faithfully M.V.Yudina
Letter Seven: To Valentina Menshikova and Evgenia Fedorovskaya
Moscow, August 29, 1950
Dear Evgenia Yakovlevna and Valentina Yakovlevna,
I am bereaved just like you are. Not a single
day passes without me thinking of Nikolai Yakovlevich. I could never imagine
he would mean so much to me, even though I've hardly ever seen him. It
was just the realization of Nikolai Yakovlevich being present in the world,
in our musical life, and it was a comfort and joy to know and to feel him
being out there. I even didn't really try to be closer to him, I waited
-"what if he wrote a concerto and I would play it". I silently acknowledged
the authority he exerted and enjoyed him "sheltering" us all (not only
composers, but all those, who love music more than "career") from alien,
malignant and pernicious tendencies. Since some time ago, when I learned
how kind, warm-hearted, responsive, willing to help he could be, his image
began to shine for me in a new, more transparent and sublime light.
The news of his death found me in Leningrad,
I was told about what had happened by Al. Lokshin. You know, what Nikolay
Yakovlevich meant to him; there was no one he spoke of with such boundless
reverence, no one he treasured so much... But he was not timely informed,
the first phone call from Moscow gave him a wrong notion of the date and
time of the funeral. After the second phone call we headlong rushed to
catch the "Arrow", and there were no tickets left when we rushed in just
15 minutes before the departure time. We were so frustrated and confused,
that it didn't occur to us until the next day that we could've managed
to get on the train "by storm" without any tickets... Ever since I was
unable to send you a telegram, as if some kind of guilt was hanging over
me... I have wronged against myself, for in many years of Nikolai Yakovlevich's
life I deprived myself of the endless benefits of his guidance... I venture
to write to you only because my experience of losses tells me that no voice,
which can relate to the sense of loss, is out of place. Forgive me, if
it's not so.
Letter Eight: To Vladimir Apresov
My friend, Volodya, having thought over your
proposal for a day, I have almost decided to accept it, i.e. to find a
way to realize it. [...] Trying to be someone who keeps one's word as far
as possible, / am not giving my formal consent yet, just in case I would
have to withdraw it before it's all settled between us, but / certainly
do intend to give my consent!
Now to a different matter: wouldn't you like
to invite - on similar on-tour conditions a certain fellow, a good friend
of mine (I hadn't met him yet in the days you were round), Shura Lokshin,
who, by the way, you have never invited. You know that he worked at the
Moscow Conservatoire and doesn't work there any longer - not because of
that or another decree on cosmopolitism or formalism. He was disgracefully
dismissed because of his constant and lengthy stays in hospitals, because
of his stomach ulcer, which is just typical of Shebalin's3 heartless attitude
Since then he had the bulk of his stomach
excised, and started to recover rapidly, but still couldn't find a permanent
job, because in the last two years, when, as you well know, many distinguished
theorists, such as Konen, Pekelis, and many others, were "pushed aside",
and they started to travel to different cities, the vacancies both at the
Moscow Conservatoire and our Institute were taken up by all kinds of new,
and often rather worthless and insignificant people. Rabble, who are not
in the least inclined to give up their positions. Meanwhile some of the
old characters regained their strength, for instance, Vissarion is said
to be coming back to the Conservatoire.
So then, you know Shura Lokshin, and there's
no need to repeat that he is able to do and he knows everything - I mean
it, and that's exactly what I was told by the late Mysakovsky: he "had
never come across anything like that". If Genrikh llyich Litinsky comes
to see you, he will tell you the same. In the last few years we've played
music together [with Lokshin] a lot, we play duos, I play my programmes
to him, and I very much appreciate his critical opinion. He shows his compositions
to me. This is, obviously, an unusual occurrence, not just an ordinary
man, but, of course, life is hard on him... Having invited him, you will
acquire quite a distinctive ornament for your conservatoire. He, no doubt,
will also make a good teacher, he has colorful and expressive language,
and, so to say, "the gift of heart"!
The best choice would be instrumentation for
composers, a practical course, but anything else will do: analysis, or
literature, or even composition. Make up your mind as soon as possible,
Volodya, and call him! His address is: Moscow, Sokol, Novo-Peschanaya Street
[...]. But you can do it all through me.
I shall make no secret of the fact that once
he is invited my visits also will become more frequent, for I like it,
when there is a common spirit and atmosphere in an educational establishment.
As it was in good old times at the Moscow Conservatoire, when unforgettable
Yavorsky, and Dyakov, and poor Kogan were still alive, and the work was
lively, and enjoyable, and easy - do you remember? We - you, and I, and
Shura (and he has the ability to attract and animate all around him) might
well create a similar groundbreaking sublime atmosphere at your place!
So, I will be waiting for the news, my dear
friend. I must admit, as far as I am concerned the whole thing has caused
some confusion and excitement! I only wish I were strong enough to cope
with it... Since recently something makes me wonder if it's the right time
"to take to one's heels"...
My regards to Toma and Natasha. M.V.Yudina.
I am looking forward to hear from you!
P.S. I am writing this at the Institute, and
I've just met Litinsky, so there" something more to be said (about Lokshin).
What he told me was discouraging: first, there are no international carriages,
second, they aren't going to pay for the trip (for Shura L.) - therefore,
Volodya, do try to find some extra hours so that he, Lokshin could make
up for the travelling expenses. Third, Litinsky entreated me "not to forsake
you in Kazan!" 4. Lokshin has no intention whatsoever to live in Kazan.
Letter Nine: To Vladimir Lyublinsky
Moscow, February 28, 1961
Now I have to tell you something magnificent,
tragic, delightful and to a certain extent, secret. Listen: I wrote a letter
- "professional and business-like", concerned with Mahler - to Shura Lokshin,
since no one knows the subject better. In response he wrote to me, urging
to meet him. I did. Yesterday he played to me his Requiem, which he had
been writing for many years, or rather "approaching it", and putting aside
until finally he wrote it "at once" some 2V2 years ago. It is based on
the full version, more complete then that of Mozart's. What did I tell
him when he finished playing? "I always knew you were a genius."
Yes, it is so, and it's much more impressive
than anything I am breaking lances over, and it's equal (now) to Shostakovich
(not the last...) and Stravinsky, This music cannot be performed neither
here, nor any other place other than here, it is quite clear... It's like
Bach, Mozart, Mahler, and the two I mentioned above... He has reconciled
himself to the knowledge of it being that way, and to the fact that it
is not going to be performed... Shostakvich now virtually idolizes him.
The fact is known to but a few. I only ask you to tell Bima; Alexandra
Dmitrievna has very little to do with music, I believe. Apparently, it
is something she can do without, that's all; while the art doesn't tolerate
cold-hearted attitude. It's nobody's fault, but a fact of life - it's only
natural that people and their mind-sets should be different.
Perhaps, you shouldn't tell anyone after all.
t am glad that the man has accomplished his mission, and his life is meaningful,
that I was not mistaken, when I trusted him, and I was not mistaken, when
I helped him to deal with daily matters, by just being a friend in the
time of hardships. That's it. Don't be angry with me. Take care. My best
regards. Don't be angry. M.V