Nilolay Myaskovsky as He is Portrayed in His Correspondence with Boris Asafiev


For more than 40 years the correspondence between N. Ya. Myaskovsky and B. V. Asafiev has been kept in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Arts behind closed doors. Currently, the archive has granted permission for its publication. The value of this documentary monument for music history cannot be overstated. This correspondence was preserved in its entirety: 467 letters, covering the period from 1906 to 1945. In comparison, the already known correspondence between N. Ya. Myaskovsky and S. S. Prokofiev contains 451 letters. Moreover, if comparing time scale and factual coverage, the Myaskovsky-Asafiev correspondence not inferior to this of Myaskovsky and Prokofiev, it is even superior in some ways (ultimately, Myaskovsky was more honest with Asafiev than with the author of “The Gambler”). This correspondence embraces almost half a century of communication between the two outstanding cultural figures, and it is a precious historical testimony taking into consideration that Russian musical-historical science still disposes only a few samples of documentary heritage of the first half of the 20th century related to personal archival collections of letters and diaries. In this paper previously unknown facts are set out which present Myaskovsky’s biography and his psychological portrait in a new way. His attitude to revolutionary changes in the country, to the Bolsheviks, to emigration, to the state cultural policy, to the Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians (RAPM) is investigated. The question about the peculiarities of the composer’s perception of the creative process, about the background of his complex attitude to his opus is raised. Some new information on the composer’s life, representing the musicological part of his extensive and diverse creative activities, is laid down.


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