A word from the editor (NoŽlle Mann)
Sviatoslav Prokofiev, Valery Gergiev, Sir Edward Downes
"An Incredible country": Prokofiev and America. (Harlow Robinson)
Prokofiev in St Petersburg.
The inexorable journey towards France (NoŽlle Mann)
Listening to Prokofiev: memories from a Soviet classroom.
Back in the USSR (Natalia Savkina)
Lina Prokofiev. (Lady Joan Downes)
Oleg Prokofiev: traces left behind. (Frances Prokofiev)
About the Prokofiev family.
Little-known facts about people close to Prokofiev. (Sviatoslav Prokofiev)
A PHOTO - A STORY
A friendship in Terioki.
(Serge Prokofiev Jr.)
REVIEWS AND PREVIEWS
Live and on disc: the last decade of Prokofiev performances. (David Nice)
FROM THE ARCHIVE
Getting it right!
Boosey & Hawkes.
Sir Edward Downes: a life in music. (NoŽlle Mann)
Lady Joan Downes
One Friday morning my husband read in the Times Literary Supplement an advert for a sale at Christie’s of a collection of Prokofiev’s manuscripts and personal letters. We tele-phoned Mrs P., who was in Paris, since we doubted that she knew about it, and within hours I met her at the airport with her attorney and drove them to their London solicitor to have the sale stopped. The projected sale included a collection of her private belon-gings which she had sent to Paris with friends from Moscow in the hope that one day she would be able to leave Russia and reclaim them. Her friends had both died and their children, not knowing the background, had been advised to sell them. Fortunately the sale was stopped, and she and I went to Christie’s to collect the items offered for sale. She was very moved to find letters and postcards from her husband to her and manuscripts, including his first opera written when he was nine called The Giant. We took all this to the librarian at the Royal Opera House who had a photocopier so that we could put the originals in the bank. She asked my husband to look through the manuscripts to see if he could place them. At that time he was preparing the first performance of Prokofiev’s music for Evgeny Onegin, and there were four “numbers” missing from the material he had, and here were the missing pages, so within a week, he had orchestrated them and they were performed.
On Mrs P.’s 90th birthday, my husband and I were in Madrid where he was conducting concerts. I knew that Mrs P. was born in Madrid so I asked her if she remembered the address. She told me she was born in Calle di Braganza in an apartment in block 1-5. On her birthday I made a pilgrimage to Calle di Braganza and with great good luck found an international telephone box right outside, so I telephoned her to wish her happy birthday yards from where she was born.
As her eyes began to worsen, she became very frustrated. She was very keen to have a CD player so that she could listen to the new Prokofiev recordings. My son Caractacus and I took her to buy the latest equipment which he then set up for her in her apartment and made stickers with big numbers on them so that she could manage it on her own. She was very thrilled to hear the quality of CD recordings. She loved new things and had one of the first cordless telephones which she called her “talkie-walkie.”
When she became ill in Bonn in the Autumn of her 91st year she still seemed to have her usual fighting spirit but on her return to England when I went to see her in the Churchill Clinic, I was very sad to see how on some days, she was angry and frustrated and on other days so utterly lost. She refused to drink water given her by hospital staff since she thought it was poisoned. She thought she was back “in the North” and would only drink water I took to her in an unopened bottle. Her last weeks were spent in a hospice, and on what was to be her last Christmas Day I saw the real spirited Mrs P. in her full glory for the last time. I went to see her in the afternoon and she told me with glee that the Catholic and the Protestant chaplains had both been to see her and she had asked them various questions about which they had not been able to agree. So she told them to go away and when they themselves had come to some agreement they could come back and talk to her.
On January 2nd 1989 I spent the afternoon with her. It was quite clear that she was very weak and she slept most of the time. The next morning Oleg telephoned me to say that she had died in the night and he asked me to go with him to the hospice to see his mother. We went and said our farewells - Oleg made some drawings and took photographs to send to the family in Russia. What a life she had led, and despite everything how much she achieved. The lives of family and friends alike were much enriched by knowing her and I still sit quietly before starting on a journey just as she always insisted that we should.
(Lady Joan Downes is the wife of Sir Edward Downes).
To the Beginning