Click on b & w photo to enlarge
It is accepted all over the world that a number of streets, squares, concert halls, theatres or cities are named after the famous people - historical figures, musicians, artists, writers, politicians, astronauts etc. There are also other cases of a rather weird use of famous people's names like a sign of gratitude and recognition, even when such a use is totally inappropriate. Below are several stories about how the Prokofiev's surname was, and still is, used in everyday life.
In his «Diary», Sergey Prokofiev who, since his juvenile years, was passionately fond of geography depicts one of his voyages down the Volga River, in the company of his friend Boris Verin, without forgetting to describe in detail the steamship's particularities. Subsequently - already after his departure from Russia in 1918, he also describes in detail the ships, by which he used to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Could he ever expect that one of the Russian steamships many years after will be named after himself? The Diesel-electric ship «Composer Prokofiev» operated by the Yenisei shipping company was named after the great composer in August, 1958.
These are excerpts from the technical specifications of the vessel:
The Diesel-electric ships of the project 785 («Russia» type) are the medium-size passenger vessels intended for operation on fast passenger lines. The Diesel-electric ships possess the single-, double-, quadruple-berthed cabins, as well as the cabins for 6 or 8 persons, including those equipped with wash-basins, two restaurants and two saloons.
The motor ships of this type are built in Czechoslovakia at the shipbuilding shipyard «Národny Podnik Skoda Komárno» (Slovenské Lodenice n.p. Komárno).
These vessels were named after the 16 republics of the USSR and the Russian composers. (More information).
Now, from the water expanses we will transfer ourselves to the airspace.
In 1927 Sergey and Lina Prokofiev have made hop from London to Paris by plane. Before the travel there were some hesitations - to fly or to not fly?
- December 9, 1927
- (...) Have taken tickets on the Imperial Airline. Ptashka was eager to fly for a long time already. In Paris, before the voyage, we decided that, maybe, we would fly by plane. But now, when we have decided to fulfil our plan, many people told us: «Well, fly if you want, but if I were you... I wouldn't». At first I felt something like a mild agitation, but have quickly mastered it (...) and today have taken the tickets with confidence and interest. The coach with the passengers from Paris has just arrived. A thick elderly French lady, who looked rather like a Russian landowner from Urals, has vigorously got off the coach; the other lady probably felt sick: she was taken out by somebody keeping her under her arms and immediately seated on a chair.
At last, curiosity and practical aspects have gained the upper hand and the flight took place. Certainly, the planes of those days did not resemble the modern giant aircraft - except maybe for similar outlines - the hull, the wings or the tail. Their speed, the noise level, a rather moderate comfort, the jolting and general safety level cannot even be comparable to those of the nowadays airliners transporting daily millions of passengers to the most far-off regions of the world.
«On October 21, 2003, from the Airbus delivery centre in Hamburg, Germany, has been received a new passenger airliner A-319 that will be operated by the company «Aeroflot - Russian Airlines». It was named after the composer Prokofiev».
So, in such a peculiar way was marked the 50th anniversary of Sergey Prokofiev's death: he has literally risen on heavens!
Now, after having visited rivers and lakes and flown the intercontinental airliners, we shall go to the outer space.
All cosmic objects discovered by man have their names.
The first planets or asteroids mankind ever discovered were given the names of gods and goddesses. When those names have been exhausted, asteroids began to be given the women's names. Today the right to name new minor planets belongs to their discoverers. And they choose the names of famous people, memorable events or geographical localities. As the number of the discovered stars, planets and asteroids is literally «astronomical», the mere names do not suffice and the discoverers are obliged to add to these names some numerical designations, which are rather long and difficult-to-remember.
On October 26, 1976, Tamara Smirnova, a Soviet astronomer, has discovered a minor planet which has received the number 3159 and a name: «3159 Prokof'ev». The connoisseurs and amateurs of astronomy can find this asteroid's parameters here.
And now there are some really weird examples.
Let's read a fragment from Sergey Prokofiev's «Diary»:
- September 2, 1913.
- (...) How classy it is to possess a private house, a two-floor apartment and... to stay at an hotel. But it is exactly what the Mestchersky family did who, because of some vagueness with their apartment, have decided to put up at «Astoria», a new, the smartest hotel.
(...) The Mestchersky family occupied a suite of several rooms overlooking the Morskaya street, as well as the St. Isaac's Cathedral and the monument to Peter the Great. It is surprising that I have got exactly into the suite Max dreamed of so often!»
The hotel in question is «Astoria» in St.-Petersburg (B.Morskaya Street, 39). How strange are destiny's turns and how unexpected the coincidences may be!
It is the extremely difficult to me to find out why the owners of this hotel to name five classier suites - so called «Presidential» ones - after famous Russian composers: «Tchaikovsky», «Prokofiev», «Rachmaninov», «Shostakovich», «Stravinsky». In theory may be it is not so bad, but in practice...
Just fancy a following scene!
- On a table of the employee of the Astoria Hotel the phone rings:
- Good afternoon, Hotel Astoria, what can I do for you?
- I'd like to book a classy suite!
- I can offer you Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov...
- How much does it cost to rent Prokofiev for a night?
- 2 898 euro, and an extra bed for Prokofiev will cost you another 68 euro...
- Well, book me two nights from Wednesday till Friday, please.
- Unfortunately, for these dates Prokofiev has been already booked.
- (The worst alternative of a question of the client would be:
- - How much will a night in your Prokofiev come to?)
What do you feel after you read it? You certainly will be ashamed before the memory of Russian composers and embarrassed for the stupidity of the manager who found a «creative» approach to resolving a marketing problem he had.
(All prices are quoted as of March, 2007).
For the curious and unbelieving: detailed information (in Russian)
Now, from a luxurious hotel we shall go to racecourses. As you know, horses also go under names - often unusual, exotic or even simply incomprehensible. Here is an example to it: a dazzling stallion, a handsome racer, with an impressive list of victories and awards, its pedigree being worthy of royal families!
Its name is Holme Grove Prokofiev...
The imagination of loving owners is at least unlimited! I sent a mail to the present owner of the racer asking him about the reason of Prokofiev's presence in the horse's name, and the answer has come up to my expectations. Yes, Holme Grove Prokofiev has been initially acquired in Germany and was then called Prokofjew (the German spelling of the surname). After the arrival to England, its name has been changed to Holme Grove Prokofiev. Yes, that's true, he was named in honour of the composer, it appears to Prokofiev's music and its off-springs are as beautiful, as their father is.
Details about «Prokofiev the Stallion» can be found here.
The complete pedigree. (From this page you can go to individual pages with several ancestors' pictures).
Using the same principle, as in case of Astoria Hotel, we could imagine the following sentences to be pronounced:
- Prokofiev broke into a gallop to get disqualified.
- Prokofiev has finished first!
- What a shame that Prokofiev had a false start...
Anyway, horses are fine and noble animals, and the fact that the owner carried his love to music over a handsome racer, is not unpleasant for me.
The doors are important elements in our houses. They can be made of wood or iron or glass, be armoured etc. We open them with our hands, legs and other parts of the body, or with the aid of various fittings and objects, depending on situation. I know that it is accepted to give names to houses, particularly to private residences. But it never occurred to me that a door, even given its importance, can have a name of its own. And what a name it is! If one want to enlarge his/her horizons in this area, the Welguard Corp. (Great Britain) an be more than helpful:
- Welcome to the website of Welglaze, specialist manufacturer of double glazing products, windows, doors, conservatories and glass sealed units.
There was no limit to my surprise when I have discovered on this corporation's Web site a real bouquet of doors wearing names of famous composers with additional «adornments»: Bach Plain, Beethoven Bevelled Sonata, Beethoven Climbing Rose, Beethoven Georgian Bar, Berlioz Bevelled Tempo, Berlioz Climbing Rose, Bizet Bevelled Tristar, Bizet Climbing Rose, Brahms, Britten Bevelled Tristar, Chopin, Debussy Bevelled Fleur de Lys and so on.
Prokofiev also did not remain without attention and was included into this company. Let's glance at «Prokofiev the Door».
Indeed, among White Door Panels, between Massenet in the beginning and Rossini in the end, we find a door Prokofiev clear. In the previous section, Mahogany Door Panels, you can admire the version Prokofiev Fantasia Prelude (dark wood). In the section Sherwood Door Panels we discover an alternative version of medium saturation - Prokofiev Fantasia Prelude. Impartially speaking, there is nothing special in these doors, fair to middling. The Prokofiev's spirit is not felt at all. And trying to find a deeper sense in conformity of the name with the essence of the subject - is rather hopeless affair.
Let's close the door. Let's lock it up. Let's give up the subject. Certainly, this door has not been opened completely, and possibly there are in the world other animated or inanimate objects going under the name of Prokofiev. But we just have met several most important specimens of the species: on land and sea, in the air, in the outer space and even in our everyday life.
1 MARCH 2007