Maria V. Yudina
Nine Letters
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 M.V. Yudina.


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 wedding bouquet!
     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 Meyerovich...
     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 and thoughts.


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 deepest respect,
     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 impact.
     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. 
     M.V.Yudina


Letter Eight: To Vladimir Apresov
September?, 1951 

     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 to people.
     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

Dear VE-ES!
[...]
     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