Russian Tour.

Piatti's next foreign tour was to Russia, where he spent twelve months in 1844-45; his only visit to that country. There are two compositions which belong to the Russian period, the "Mazurka Sentimentale" (opus 6), of which Piatti himself said that there was nothing remarkable about it except that it was written in seven flats, and the "Air Baskyr" (opus 8), the subject of which used to be played by a man who was a Baskyr, that is a native of the confines of Asia, on a bagpipe under Piatti's windows in St. Petersburg. The Baskyr used to begin by filling his bag producing a note which descended chromatically as the bag filled.

In Russia Piatti played with Döhler, the pianist with whom, it will be remembered, he had already played in London. Döhler, while in Russia, became engaged to a lady of noble family, Countess Scheremetief; but the lady being noble the Emperor would not allow the marriage to take place. Döhler was a native of Lucca, so he went off to his own country and got the Duke to make him a Baron and the marriage then took place.

On one occasion Piatti went to a public seance given by a mesmerist in Russia. It was suggested to Piatti that he should offer to be mesmerized. He sat down and the mesmerist tried for a quarter of an hour without any result. Piatti felt sorry for him and wishing to avoid a failure pretended to go to sleep, and he then heard the mesmerist say "It 's all right, he is ready now." Young ladies were brought up to Piatti and they enquired about future marriages and received the most satisfactory answers. After this to give an exhibition of the power of thought transference through the mind of a person in mesmeric sleep Piatti was asked the time. By opening his eyes to an imperceptible extent he was able to see a clock at the end of the hall, and his answer produced exclamations of "Wonderful, wonderful!" In the same way he was able to identify a gentleman who entered the room. The mesmerist then announced that he had complete control over his subject and could at any time make him do anything that he pleased. Some three or four years later the mesmerist called on Piatti in Paris and wanted to borrow from him a thousand francs. But his control was not sufficient to procure the loan.

Piatti was introduced by Panofka, the Russian composer, to Bordogni, who was a native of Bergamo, but whose talents were, according to Piatti, musical to the exclusion of all else. On one occasion he heard the Grand Duke Michael say to a lady, who handed him a cup of tea:—"Madame, cette tasse vous ressemble tout-à-fait." "Pourquoi, Monseigneur?" "Parcequ'elle est remplie de bon thé (bonté)." The laugh that followed this calembour made Bordogni feel that it was worth repeating and he took an early opportunity when a lady handed him a cup to say "Madame, cette tasse vous ressemble tout-à-fait." "Pourquoi, Monsieur?" "Parcequ'elle est remplie de bon café!" Bordogni was asked once "Pourquoi devez-vous respecter la chicorée?" Being unable to solve the riddle the answer was given him "Parcequ'elle est amère (ta mere)." He promptly asked a lady the same question and she being unable to answer was told "Parcequ'elle est votre mère."

One outcome of the visit to Russia was the composition by Piatti of his "Fantaisie Russe," which was however only produced in public for the first time at a concert of the Musical Union in 1860.


Piatti was detained in St. Petersburg longer than he had originally intended. The steamer used to leave but once a month; and when Döhler and his brother left there were only two vacant places and Piatti had to follow them later.

Piatti spent altogether about two years on tour with Döhler. On one occasion at Berlin he was to play at Court before King William I. When his turn to play came he looked at Döhler who said "I cannot play; there is the Court accompanist." Piatti was not unnaturally nervous at the idea of playing with a new accompanist without any rehearsal; he saw a little man coming forward who took his seat at the piano, but the performance went splendidly and, when Piatti asked who the accompanist was, he was told—"Meyerbeer."

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