The Master and Margarita

The Spring Festival Ball at Spaso House

One historical event which Bulgakov attended had an important influence on the novel—the Spring Festival at Spaso House, Moscow (the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union) hosted by Ambassador William Bullitt on 24 April 1935. Bullitt instructed his staff to create an event that would surpass every other Embassy party in Moscow's history. The decorations included a forest of ten young birch trees in the chandelier room; a dining room table covered with Finnish tulips; a lawn made of chicory grown on wet felt; an aviary made from fishnet filled with pheasants, parakeets and one hundred zebra finches, on loan from the Moscow Zoo; and a menagerie of several mountain goats, a dozen white roosters and a baby bear.

Although Joseph Stalin did not attend, the four hundred guests at the festival included Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, Defense Minister Kliment Voroshilov, Communist Party luminaries Nikolai Bukharin, Lazar Kaganovich and Karl Radek, and Soviet Marshals Aleksandr Yegorov, Mikhail Tukhachevsky and Semyon Budyonny, as well as Bulgakov.

The festival lasted until the early hours of the morning. The bear became drunk on champagne given to him by Karl Radek, and in the early morning hours the zebra finches escaped from the aviary and perched below the ceilings around the house.

Mikhail Bulgakov transformed the Spring Festival into The Spring Ball of the Full Moon, which became one of the most memorable episodes of the novel.[10] On 29 October 2010, seventy-five years after the original ball, as a tribute to Ambassador Bullitt, Bulgakov and the Master and Margarita, John Beyrle, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, hosted an Enchanted Ball at Spaso House, recreating the spirit of the original ball.[11]


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