Prokofiev and Tairovon "Egyptian Nights"


As from 1930 Prokofiev started to express publicly his admiration for the vibrancy of musical life in the Soviet Union, mainly in interviews for Russian, French and American newspapers. The wide reach of Radio in particular, gained his praise. “Radio is playing a great part in the education of the Russian people, musically and otherwise. This tremendous power for good is under the direction of the State and reaches the remotest corners of an enormous territory, even to the steppes of Siberia, by means of public receiving stations supplied by the Government. And what other civilized country has more widely scattered communities than Russia!” (1) Later, as he integrated into Soviet cultural life, he expounded his views on composing for the new audiences who were now able to access music. One of these articles was written for a little known and short-lived journal, Soviet Travel.(2)
     Subtitled “Special Theatre Number”, Soviet Travel, 1934, No. 3, includes two contributions of special interest to Three Oranges as they address many of the issues discussed in the previous article by Ludmilla Petchenina and Gérard Abensour. In “Soviet Audiences and my Work”, Prokofiev explains how he came to write expressly for a “newly developing audience”, while Tairov expounds his theories in “producing the classics”, with a special emphasis on Egyptian Nights.


1) Musical America, New York, 10 January 1930.
2) This publication was one of the many information journals published in Moscow for a very specific readership – the supporters of Soviet ideology around the world, most of whom were members of “Friends of the USSR”. Soviet Travel first appeared on 1 February 1932 (with 6 issues per year), to be renamed Soviet Land in 1935, with a first “Special Issue” dedicated to Soviet children.

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