A word from the editor (NoŽlle Mann)
A PHOTO - A STORY
Prokofiev - Driver (Serge Prokofiev Jr)
PROKOFIEV’s LIFE AND INTERESTS
1920 (Sviatoslav Prokofiev)
The Game (Serge Prokofiev Jr)
FEATURE: SEVEN, THEY ARE SEVEN
A letter from France
Magic, Music and Poetry: Prokofiev’s Creative Relationship with Balmont and the Genesis of Seven, They Are Seven (Pamela Davidson)
Breathless with Excitement: Prokofiev’s Incantation (NoŽlle Mann)
On the Dnieper: Reappraisal of an “unfairly rejected opus” (Stephen Press)
Prokofiev in Public and Private
FROM THE ARCHIVE
An Unlikely Alliance: Prokofiev and London (NoŽlle Mann)
The Tribulations of a Curator
Betrothal in a Monastery in Lyon
CD reviews (David Nice, ed.)
“Went in for an examination to receive a ‘carte rose’, that is to say a driving licence. The examination started with a very hard task, in one of the side streets of Avenue de la Grande Armťe: I had to start on a steep ascent and then make a sharp turn. At that very moment another car raced down in my direction and I had to give way. My examiner cursed, but not because of me. He was cursing this car for having shot out instead of giving way to me. I then had to make some more manoeuvres, answer three theoretical questions and, having got the pink sheet of paper, came home beaming with joy.”
(From S. Prokoﬁev’s Diary, 5 January, 1927)
A Photo: Vladimir Sofronitsky, Serge Prokoﬁev, Vladimir Dukelsky, Lina Prokoﬁev (1929, France).
Trips were a long-standing passion of Serge Prokoﬁev’s. In St Petersburg, before his departure abroad in 1918, he often made long walking tours with his friends in the city’s environs. And with Max Schmidthoff he made many day-trips along a pre-planned route well-armed with accessories – sticks, suits, hats.
His enthusiasm for such trips was by no means diminished when he settled in France during the 1920s. In 1927 his passion gained a new aspect – trips by car. Having obtained a driving licence, Prokoﬁev hesitated for a long time over his choice of car. Naturally he was attracted to such famous cars of the time as Hotchkiss, Hispano-Suiza, Panhard & Levassor, Delage… But he had to curtail his own wishes to within what was possible – he did not have much spare money. His choice eventually fell upon a second-hand but nice Ballot, which he had found with the help of his friends.
His ﬁrst trips were around Paris and its environs – Bois de Boulogne, Chambord, Blois… Often on those ﬁrst drives he was joined by some of his friends, such as Vladimir Dukelsky, Paitchadze, or the Samoilenkos. Prokoﬁev noted with pleasure that, thanks to the car, he had not lost contact with his beloved nature. Almost every day he drove out of the town ‘in ﬁelds and forests’. Then followed more serious trips.
For the summer Prokoﬁev and his family usually rented a house, often at the seaside and sometimes in the countryside. In order to look for a suitable country house, Prokofiev would plan a route through a selected area and then, together with Lina and often with some friends, would drive off on his search. Since motor-cars at that time were not fast, the drive would last several days and was often full of adventures, mainly connected with breakdowns due to such mishaps as a burnt axle or a puncture. In the meantime the company visited historical places encountered during the trip and did not forego the pleasure of tasting the local cuisine. Prokoﬁev’s notes from these trips now seem amusing: “We have today driven 224 kilometres. Average speed (excluding breaks) 43.4 km/h”. He was very proud of his driving achievements at that time, though not an experienced driver. Yet for some reason an opinion exists that Prokoﬁev was a bad driver. This is no more true than it would be to claim that he was a perfect driver. He drove rather carefully and, leaving aside a pair of crushed hens on provincial roads and mudguards that got crumpled during unsuccessful manoeuvres in the city (you can imagine for a moment how it felt to drive this enormous car in the 1920s!), the most serious crash he had occurred in 1929 on the way from Culoz (where the family spent the summer) to Paris. On that occasion the car lost one wheel and turned over several times. Fortunately, the passengers escaped with nothing more than not very dangerous bruises and spent some days recuperating.
The valiant Ballot served Prokoﬁev for some years and at the 30th year it was replaced by a not so old and more powerful Chevrolet. Prokoﬁev wrote: ‘Ballot was an old aristocrat, and Chevrolet is a young democrat. It is a thousand times more comfortable to drive in the city and in the mountains, it is mobile and powerful. But the friendly old Ballot was incomparable on the level road.’
Coming back to the USSR, Prokoﬁev brought a car with him – a new blue Ford. But he did not drive this himself, but rather a chauffeur.
A Story: Serge Prokofiev Jr