Maria Sergeyevna Durnovo (Griboyedova)

Maria Sergeyevna Durnovo (Griboedova) (Russian: Мария Сергеевна Дурново (Грибоедова)) born 1792 died 1856 in Moscow, Russia. She was a younger sister of Russian writer/poet Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov. In 1827 she married Aleksey Mikhailovich Durnovo

While life of Alexander Griboyedov is well documented and researched water bottles wholesale, very few biographers paid attention to the one person that poet was close to, not only by blood, but also in spirit, shared his aspirations and thoughts, his sister Maria. She was two years older than his famous brother [see controversy about Alexander Griboyedov’s date of birth]. Their friendship began in the years of their childhood and lasted their entire life by their own admission they kept no secrets from each other. Especially they shared their love of music. In the letter from St. Petersburg in June 1824 to his close friend Stepan Nikitich Begichev, Alexander Griboyedov writes: “… two women are constantly on my mind: Your wife and my sister. I do not separate them in my memories nor prayers. If you’ll see my sister ‘Masha’, give her my letter, let her feast on it, and then tear it to shreds”

Gifted with remarkable musical abilities, Maria Sergeyevna later became known pianist not only in Moscow and well beyond. By recollection of the famous writer Vladimir Odoyevsky “Griboyedovs often entertained at their house by holding music parties”. Maria Sergeyevna was an excellent piano player and particularly gifted with the harp thermos bottle parts. On many occasions, Griboyedov’s house at Novinsky Square was visited by then famed Moscow music elites such as Alexey Verstovsky, composer Alexander Alyabyev, Alexander Vsevolozhskiy and others. Alexander Griboyedov himself writes about musical popularity of Maria Sergeyevna in the letter from Simferopol to Stepan Begichev, dated September 9, 1825: “When I come here, I see no one; I do not know anybody and do not want to know anybody. Yet, it lasts no more than a day, thanks to my sister’s reputation as a famed piano player.”

Maria Sergeyevna were first to know about literary intentions of Alexander, about his writing of the first acts of the comedy “Woe from Wit” (Russian: Горе от Ума). “He worked anywhere he could” running belts for phones, recalled Maria Sergeyevna. Very often, the writer came to the sister’s room. In the spring of 1823, whereas famed comedy remained a secret to public and majority of friends, Mikhail Vielgorsky, stumbled on several sheets of poem water in a glass bottle, written by the hand of Alexander Griboyedov, while assembling pages of sheet music on the piano of Maria Sergeyevna. Maria wanted to hide accidentally discovered pages, but it was too late. The news of the new comedy rapidly spread around Moscow from the mouth of the well-known at the time musician.

After the death of her brother, Maria Sergeyevna Durnovo with the playwright’s widow Nina Alexandrovna Griboedova became the executrix of Alexander Griboyedov’s estate. After a one-year term Chernsky County Court issued a decree on August 31, 1832: “after the death of State Councilor Alexander Sergeyevich son of Griboyedov the remaining cash capital deposited in St. Petersburg Guardian Council, assigned to the legal heirs of the deceased: wife, Mrs. Nina Alexandrovna Griboyedova and his sister Maria Sergeyevna daughter of Griboyedov, after marriage Durnovo. Shall any book remained after the death of Mr. Griboyedov, comedy “Woe from Wit”, it shall belong to Mrs. Durnovo and Ms. Griboedova”