Five of the foremost conductors of their generation, photographed at a banquet in Berlin in the summer of 1929. From left to right: Bruno Walter (conductor of the Berlin City Opera), Arturo Toscanini (at the time departing from the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, about to become co-director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and a regular visitor to Berlin), Erich Kleiber (conductor of the Berlin State Opera), Otto Klemperer (conductor of the Berlin State Opera’s subsidiary at the Kroll Theater), and Wilhelm Furtwängler (conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra). Source: Internet

The Borovskys moved to Berlin, first temporarily, for the 1928/29 season, and more permanently the following year. Their move was not surprising. The 1920s were for Berlin their cultural Golden Twenties. Music, the theatre, film making, painting, sculpture, the whole European cultural life focussed in Berlin and the city attracted the best artists from all over the world. There was no room at all for Nazism so it is not surprising that the Nazis called the city  the ‘haven of vice’. Also scientific activities flourished in Berlin. For example, Albert Einstein was the Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute – he knew Borovsky, who wrote him a personal note in 1931 from Tel Aviv, telling him about the wonderful progress made by settlers  in Palestine. It is clear from that note that, although Borovsky’s father was a Jew converted to Orthodox christianity and his mother as well (according to Natasha Borovsky, many years later), he was proud  and very conscious to be a Jew.

The Borovsky’s during an after-concert dinner in Berlin, Erich Kleiber to Moussia’s right.

As has been mentioned before, Moussia hated to be alone during her husband’s long absences and she visited her relatives in Poland once or twice a year ever since 1922, even in winter. The family dwor, the estate house, did not anymore have its former glory after a fire, some years after the family wedding in 1905 (see article 7), but it had been restored, as is shown in the photographs below. Since 1927, Borovsky went on tour in Russia and Poland every year. So it is possible that Berlin’s more convenient location, being closer than Paris to Poland and Russia, with a direct train connection, played also a role in their decision to move there, so that Moussia could reach Poland more conveniently.

After the momentous 1927 tour, Borovsky returned to Russia already in January, 1928. Upon his return he was questioned intensely by Prokofiev, about the concerts, any entry and departure  difficulties, in short about all which could affect Prokofiev’s next visit. Prior to the departure to Berlin of the Borovskys, the two families saw a lot of each other in 1928, which Prokofiev duly notes in his Diaries, including mention of  Borovsky’s introduction of his work in so many concert halls of the world.

The change of scene, from Paris to Berlin, had a great impact on the Borovskys. On Moussia the most, Alexander being away on concert tour so often. In the United States and in Paris, she had moved mainly in Russian émigré circles and most of the people she knew were Russians involved in music. The scene in Berlin was much more international, and she could also  reconnect with the world of theater and film which flourished in Berlin, film in particular. Fritz Lang, for example,  was making his famous films there at that particular time.

It was from Berlin that Moussia managed to make contact with her beloved brother Julian in Russia, finally, for the first time since 1917. Prokofiev went to Moscow in the fall and she gave him an envelope with 150 roubles to pass on to Julian. Prokofiev’s comment in his Diaries is  baffling: “17 November (in his Moscow hotel): Maria Viktorovna’s brother came to see me in the morning, a handsome young man not without a certain chic. As it was nine o’clock in the morning, I was still in my pyjamas to receive him, before completing my morning toilet. 18 November: People started to arrive in the morning. …  Maria Viktorovna’s brother came (I gave him 150 roubles from M.V. and stunned him with the news that she had a husband). So, apparently, Julian was under the impression that Moussia was still married to Vladimir Baranovsky, maybe wondering whether Vladimir was dead. I’ll come back to Julian in the following article.

The Borovsky’s with Natasha in Poland, 1928.

Wylagi, the dwor, estate house of the family Sila-Nowicki, in Poland, 1927/28. From Mousia’s private collection.

At Wylagi, Poland, in 1927/28. In the centre: Josef Slosarki with his wife, Moussia’s Aunt Jozia on his left and Moussia on his right. Four-year old Natasha in front. Standing behind Moussia at her right is Wieslaw Olendzki, her distant relative, and the estate supervisor Kazimierz Pawlowski stands at the far left. The lady on the far right could not yet be identified. From Moussia’s private collection.

A proud father and daughter at Wylagi, 1929. Mousia’s private collection

(to be continued)

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