Zinaida Kamenetskaya

From the Memoirs of Zinaida Kamenetskaya about Sergei Diaghilev

Opening chapter, editing and comments by Yelena Terkel

Magazine issue: 
#3 2009 (24)

Sergei Diaghilev enjoyed considerable public exposure during his lifetime. Much has been written about his public work and management skills, his strong devotion to the arts, his intuitive ability to spot talent and novelty, his friends and adversaries, his dictatorial manner and allcharming gallantry - the mask that he always wore. But how often has the reader been able to penetrate his mask and get a glimpse of the real person behind it? Alas, not too often. An introvert, avoiding heart to heart conversations even with the closest people, Diaghilev lived an essentially lonely life. His whirlwind of activity was visible to all, but very few people saw him in his rare moments of leisure. Zinaida Kamenetskaya, his first cousin once removed, was one of those few. She left some recollections, full of candour and intimate family details, about her famous relative. She wrote her memoirs in 1931, after she had been asked to do so by Serge Lifar. She wrote them down in a school notebook - its pages covered in neat woman’s handwriting are now turning slightly yellow. There are some alterations made here and there, but not too many of them. The memoirs have never been published before and are part of the manuscript archive of the Tretyakov Gallery.

From the Memoirs of Zinaida Kamenetskaya about Sergei Diaghilev
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