Christmas. Cold and clear. I spent the end of the month transcribing Seven, They Are Seven while in the grips of an engrossing new idea: Lina Collini mentioned offhandedly one day that she must leave Russia for America. Why, then, I thought, should I stick around in Russia myself? See more
This tiny spark was seemingly extinguished in the course of our idle chatter, but what I’d fancied at the time to be a mere passing remark proved a veritable combustion agent that set off an immediate conflagration. To go to America! But of course! Here, wretchedness reigns; there, life’s brimming over. Here, slaughter and barbarism; there, cultivated life. Here, shabby concerts in Kislovodsk; there, New York, Chicago. No dithering about it. I shall leave come the spring.
I’m not pleased with myself, I’ve done very little. A draft of the Third Concert, planned out the finale. I started rewriting it clean: it was a lot of work to do, although it was nice and easy.
My state of mind. My attitudes to the unfolding events. A strange serenity. I somehow regarded it all as inevitable, as something that must boil over and run its course, and there somehow wasn’t anyone whose fate was a source of concern for me. Nina Meshcherskaya did cross my mind on several occasions, but she was now married. See more
The unrest, thank God, didn’t reach us; the Caucasus seemed immune from them. What a great idea it had been to settle in Kislovodsk! And so I remained in a state of spiritual equilibrium amidst the sun, the air, my Fourth Sonata (which I was finishing off), the Kant (which I also finished in November), Asya, walks and games of chess with old Prince Urusov.
The papers have shocked me: they paint things not at all as they did before. Bolshevik victories everywhere, not a word about Kerensky, and Moscow in the crossfire of rifles and handguns. See more
I deliberated about whether I should go there; in any case, there’s no point holding concerts in this situation. Undoubtedly, all the soldiers are supporting the Bolsheviks from the front, but all the railroads might strike in response, as they have already threatened to do, and then I will be stranded for no good reason in a hungry, scandalized Moscow. Might it not be better to return before it’s too late?
My concert took place yesterday. For the first time, I publicly played the 3rd Sonata and the “Transience”. Of course, the premiere should have been given in Petrograd, and not Kislovodsk, but I look at this performance as a rehearsal before the concert in the capital. See more
I believed that it would be full: Kislovodsk was filled up to the brim with people from Petrograd and Moscow, who could have potentially known me, but there were very few of them. Through the hole in the curtain I saw, in the fifth row, TaliaPrincess Vera Meshcherskaya, cousin of Peter Struve, the maid of honor of one of the great princesses. After the October Revolution, she emigrated to France, where she became head of the "Russian House". Organized a cemetery for Russian emigrants in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois. and Vera Nikolaevna; despite my intense search, I didn’t see NinaNina Meshcherskaya is the daughter of the banker Alexei Meshchersky. Sergei Prokofiev was in love with her.. The concert was averagely successful: the public liked how I played, but it did not understand what I was playing.
I had a fascinating walk with the most charming General Ruzsky, a man whom I admire not only as the most remarkable Russian commander of this war but also as a general who saved it. See more
And so this old man, in a civilian suit, a soft collar and a grey hat, strolled beside me. In response to my cautious questions, he willingly told me about strategic plans, about the course of battles, mistakes, and opportunities. I was amazed at the simplicity and desire in which he, the hero of so many great events, talked to me about this. And how much lovely kindness had this amazing man!
My life ran as follows: I got up at half-past seven because the children next door started crying. However, I had nothing against getting up at such an early hour. I did Miller's gymnastics followed by cold showers until they began to affect my sleep. Then I started doing gymnastics every day, only took cold showers every other day. See more
Then I’d take a walk, have coffee and go to morning work. I’d take out drafts of "They are Seven" and, sitting in an armchair, look at them and think. And little by little the vast empty spaces began to be filled with texture and pattern: the skeleton began to grow muscular. Alongside this, random harmony was removed, and genuine harmony went in its place. This work lasted an hour. Then I sat on the balcony and read Kant. And sometimes, I instead wrote "The Toadstool" or caught up on my diary. Lunch at one o'clock, and from two to four cinematography: large empty rooms with a beat-up piano; I would practice on it, arranged equipment and learned the 3rd Sonata. Assuming I’ll give a series of concerts in the fall and having a whole summer without a piano behind the scenes, it was useful to think about one’s technique. From five to six, I was again on my balcony, continuing the morning work, then a walk, dinner in the evening, and to relax, a chapter from aesthetics. Sleep at a half-eleven. That’s how the week passed.
I have been really busy with packing. Mom sent me a list of instructions—bring such and such, do such and such—of no fewer than fifty seven items. See more
I had to dig through a thousand cupboards, trunks and boxes, and when everything was found, there were not enough suitcases, boxes and baskets that could have fit it all. There were no servants, the porter woman was really angry—I had to do it all myself. Finally, fourteen items were packed and B.N, in some kind of a miracle, managed to drive me to lunch at “Contana” (here, for the first time we were given new money, twenty and forty roubles—shockingly small!). At nine thirty, having loaded the sleeping car of the International Society to the top, and having been seen off according to tradition by Eleonora and B. Verin, I left Petrograd.
My longstanding urge to try gymnastics has congealed into a decision to exercise regularly using the Miller system, which I have begun to study and apply in practice. I have taken to pouring cold water from my head to my toes carefully before an open window although it is hellish cold and there are frosts in the morning. See more
The rare passerby who would raise his eyes up to the second floor could see in the window only a pair of flitting, naked feet. This would be me, lying across my bed, doing circular foot rotations according to the Miller system.
For me, the most important event of September was the composition “Seven, They Are Seven”. It’s something which I’d thought about a lot, something I’d been working towards for along time, and when I finally got down to it, I knew early that something exceptional would be born. On 17th September I finally got to work. I still didn’t write a thing. I didn’t record any music, but some general outlines, occasionally one voice part; I didn’t write notes, but I drew up some general sketches and orchestrations. I enjoyed myself to such an extent that as a reached the climax of my work I had to stop working and go for a walk to calm myself down, otherwise my heart would have burst out of my chest. I didn’t spend long working on “Seven, They Are Seven”, no more than half an hour or an hour per day, and not every day. I thought a great deal. My sketches were completed on 28th September, that’s to say 12 days, of which I only worked 7, and I didn’t writeon the other 5.
Imperceptibly August changed into September. And it was so cozy that I did not want to go anywhere from Zet. It rained at night, but the days were sunny. From the first day of the month, leaves began to gradually turn yellow, red and orange, while others remained fresh, green, contrasting with the sometimes bright red leaves and maple trees, which were bright yellow from top to bottom, thus creating a striking motley and magnificent outfit. See more
It's amazing how behind such an ordinary town of Sablin there was such a beautiful countryside: cliffs, dachas, a river.
Walking around the neighborhood I thought how beautiful the northern autumn was, and that, in fact, every autumn should instill some sadness in the heart, for all of this is dying. But I’m going south at the end of the month, to Kislovodsk, to the sun, and so for me, the beauty did not conjure a rainy November and long dark nights, and I watched the surrounding beauty with an easy heart. Every five days I went to the city as to settle any personal businesses, and also as to buy myself sweets and English cigarettes (oh, how difficult and expensive to get them now!), and every time returned back home with a particular pleasure.
Horrible news. Riga is captured by Germans. A plated fist is looming over Petrograd. It's still far away, but we don't know if the revolutionary army is strong enough, and no one knows what would it look like when three million people start fleeing Petrograd.
You’re all asking me how I’m doing and where have I gone. In the night our belated train brought me to Petrograd. Well, it’s nice, although quite wet and dirty. The first face that I saw was Eleanor. See more
She told me - I do not know how certain this is - that the headquarters found my release strange: how is it possible to be released from military service on the basis of being a composer? - and they wanted kick me out, but apparently Kerensky himself (so said Eleanor) went to the headquarters and said that they should leave this thing alone forever, as long as he is Head of the War Ministry and the government. These days I usually had breakfast at the “Bear”.
It is stuffy and dusty in Petrograd. I lived in a completely empty and dusty apartment, and was fed poorly and expensively at restaurants (lunch - eighteen roubles instead of four).
In the morning, I’ve heard on the phone, that it was quiet on the Nevsky: Bolsheviks, having demonstrated into the night, were resting. I decided to use their moment of rest and headed to Nevsky. Some stores were open. I bought English cigarettes, lobsters, a book by Kuno Fischer on Kant, and headed to the Nikolayevsky train station. I left at one, and at half past two the Bolsheviks woke up, and a lively fire fight started all along the Nevsky. See more
Meanwhile I safely arrived to my Sablino that practically enchanted me with its deep calmness, peace, silence, sun, blue sky and flowers. With delight, I immersed myself in the orchestration of the Concerto’s finale and in finishing the symphony. During intermissions, I walked the picturesque grounds surrounding my country house, smoked my cigarettes, cracked open the lobsters. I cut the Kuno Fischer book and immersed myself in Kant’s wisdom. Thus I live calmly 15 miles from Petrograd, where they are shooting and rampaging.