Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

She began as follows:

‘I do not remember whether there was anything in music that touched me inwardly when I was still quite young, but I do remember very well how I thought about it. Like everybody else I did not wish to appear ignorant and, in praising or criticizing a piece of music, I judged it only with my mind. Even when I was quite indifferent to the music I heard, if my opinion was asked about it, I expressed a view, for or against, according to the circumstances.

‘Sometimes when everyone praised it I spoke against it, using all the technical words I knew, so that people should think I was not just anyone, but an educated person who could discriminate in everything. And sometimes I condemned it in unison with others, because I thought that, if they criticized it, there was doubtless something in it which I did not know about, for which it should be criticized. But if I praised a piece of music, it was because I assumed that the composer, whoever he might be, having been occupied with this matter all his life, would not let any composition see the light if it did not deserve it. In short, in either praising or blaming, I was always insincere with myself and with others, and for this I felt no remorse of conscience.

‘Later, when that good old lady, the sister of Prince Luboved­sky, took me under her wing, she persuaded me to learn to play the piano. “Every well-educated, intelligent woman,” she said, “should know how to play this instrument.” In order to please the dear old lady, I gave myself up wholly to learning to play the piano, and in six months I did indeed play so well that I was invited to take part in a charity concert. All our acquaintances present praised me to the skies and expressed astonishment at my talent.

‘One day, after I had been playing, the prince’s sister came over to me and very seriously and solemnly told me that, since God had given me such a talent, it would be a great sin to neglect it and not let it develop to the full. She added that, as I had begun to work on music, I should be really educated in this field, and not just play like any Mary Smith, and she therefore thought that I should first of all study the theory of music and, if necessary, even take an examination.