Sergei Tolstoy

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I have never seen anyone who felt music so strongly and deeply as my father.

Count Sergei Lvovich Tolstoy (10 July 1863 – 23 December 1947) was a Russian composer and ethnomusicologist, and the eldest son of Leo Tolstoy.

Quotes[edit]

Dushan told me later that he distinguished a few words which he wrote down at once: "Truth... I love all... all of them..."
  • About one p.m. I went into Father's room. His breathing was very rapid. He was having camphor injections and oxygen. But his face was drawn, and his colour blue. I thought that this must be the end. But he rallied a little after the injections. I returned again about ten p.m. He was restless and moaning, trying to get up. At one moment he said: "I'm afraid I'm dying." Then he coughed and made a face of disgust. Then he murmured: "I'll go somewhere where no one will interfere... Leave me in peace." I was terribly shocked when he suddenly sat up and said loudly: "Escape, I must escape!" Soon after that he saw me though I was standing in the dark (there was only one candle in the room) and he called out: "Serejha!" I rushed to the bed and knelt to hear better what he said. He uttered a whole sentence but I could not understand a word. Dushan told me later that he distinguished a few words which he wrote down at once: "Truth... I love all... all of them..."
    • Tolstoy Remembered by His Son, trans. Moura Budberg, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1961, p. 145.
  • I have never seen anyone who felt music so strongly and deeply as my father. It upset him, moved him, excited him, made him sob and weep. Sometimes it was even against his will, for it caused him pain and he said: "Que me veut cette musique?"
    • Tolstoy Remembered by His Son, trans. Moura Budberg, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1961, p. 226.

Quotes about Sergei Tolstoy[edit]

  • [Sergéi] is fair-haired and good-looking; there is something weak and patient in his expression, and very gentle. His laugh is not infectious, but when he cries I can hardly refrain from crying too. Every one says he is like my eldest brother [Nikolái]. I am afraid to believe it. It is too good to be true. My brother's chief characteristic was neither egotism nor self-renunciation, but a strict mean between the two: he never sacrificed himself for any one else, and he always avoided, not only injuring others, but also interfering with them. He kept his happiness and his sufferings entirely to himself. Seryózha (Sergéi) is clever; he has a systematic mind and is sensitive to artistic impressions, does his lessons splendidly, is athletic and lively at games, but gauche and absent-minded. He lacks independent-mindedness; is a slave to his physical condition; according to whether he is well or unwell he is two quite different boys.
    • Leo Tolstoy, letter to Alexandra Andreyevna Tolstoy, 1872; quoted in Reminiscences of Tolstoy by Ilya Tolstoy, trans. George Calderon, London: Chapman & Hall, 1914, ch. 1.
  • A talk with Seryozha. For no reason, he said something rude. I was chagrined and threw everything at him—his bourgeois mentality, dullness, malice, his self-satisfied attitude. And then he said, all of a sudden, that no one loved him, and burst into tears. Dear God, what pain I felt. All day long I walked about, then after dinner I took Seryozha aside and told him, "I feel ashamed...". He burst out sobbing and began kissing me, saying "Forgive me, forgive...". It is a long time since I felt as I did then. That is happiness.
  • Seryozha was different from all the other Tolstoys because of his great shyness and reserve. He often concealed his emotions, his outbursts of tenderness or passion, under a cloak of deliberate rudeness, or brusqueness. The most serious-minded and industrious of all the Tolstoy brothers, he had his own separate existence; he did not lean toward either his mother, or his father, and he rarely confided his thoughts to the members of his family. It was only when he sat down to the piano and for hours played his beloved Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, Grieg, or attempted to compose something himself, that everyone listened to him.
    • Alexandra Tolstaya, Tolstoy: A Life of my Father, trans. Elizabeth R. Hapgood; quoted in The Kreutzer Sonata Variations, ed. Michael R. Katz, Yale University Press, 2014, p. 347.

External links[edit]

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