Moscow Nights

The Musical Snuff Box

There was a rather saddish Russian composer, Liadov, who, as one of his contemporaries said “Laziness was Anatoly Konstantinovich’s most remarkable feature”.  Simply he was gifted and didn't do much with it.  

One thing he was gifted at, when he actually did it, was writing little "bon bons" - little pieces of candy if you will -

There is a clock in the lobby of the Hotel Mezhdunarodnaya in Moscow - their pre-1989 western hotel - that plays the fanfare from "The Golden Cockeral" and then "The Musical Snuff  Box"...

The Clock in the Lobby of the Mezh....

We were talking last night, Christmas Night, of travels an adventures, the "clock" in the lobby being one of them and how every time I hear the fanfare and Snuff Box I'm drawn to the recollection, the sound of the lobby, the hush tones of us Westerners as we walked through this great space and, at the time, it being fairly much off limits to Russian citizens.  One paid in dollars, cash preferred but Visa excepted.  Each of the floors had a concierge.  

I met my first Chinese diplomat there and shared a breakfast table with him and some dour fellow from East Germany who said nothing.  One is often very cautious, or was at the time, of an East German who said nothing and by miracle appeared at your table. 

My wife and I spent several weeks on business in the dead of winter at the Mezh.  There were other occasions but two weeks in Moscow in the winter were memorable if for no other reasons than the company, the prospect of meeting people from the world in a willy-nilly fashion and that clock crowing on the hour followed by little dancers twirly to the "Snuff Box".