The Black Summer of 1939 (Irina Medvedeva)
Tonya (Simon Morrison)
Soviet Wartime Films (John Riley)
Never Stop Fighting (Harvey Sachs)
Papers from the Attic (Oleg Prokofiev)
FACTS… FACTS !
The UK premiŤre of “Love for Three Oranges”
CONCERT AND CD REVIEWS
Prokofiev’s Soviet output has been the subject of many heated discussions in past years. Yet many areas of this period remain elusive, one of them being Prokofiev’s contribution to Soviet films during the Second World War. He contributed to the war effort with music for four films, which remained obscure in the West until 2004, when two of them, Tonya and Lermontov, were screened in the UK (Tonya for the first time) as a complement to the Gergiev series of Prokofiev symphonies at the Barbican, London. Tonya is this issue’s Feature, with two highly informed articles respectively on this film and on Soviet wartime films. The articles portray vividly the prevailing atmosphere and ideological doctrine in the Soviet Union during the war.
As a measure of the journal’s commitment to represent current research and thinking in Russia, a recently published article is offered in translation. The author, Irina Medvedeva, is Vice Director of the Glinka Museum in Moscow, and the article is an expanded version of a captivating paper she presented at the Manchester Prokofiev 2003 Symposium. It focuses on obscure events that took place in Leningrad in the summer of 1939, around a colossal Gymnastics Parade for which Prokofiev wrote some music. This article is very significant. First, the events recounted here focus on the last days of freedom of Prokofiev’s long-standing advocate and collaborator, the famous theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold; he was arrested, and later shot, just as he was putting the final touches to the parade. Secondly, the article offers a detailed description of the parade itself, and of the music Prokofiev wrote for it, a subject that has never been explored before.
Reminiscences might not always be reliable, but they are usually fascinating. Those in this issue are particularly so as Prokofiev is remembered by his son Oleg, and Lina by Harvey Sachs, the man she entrusted with lengthy interviews in her last years. His vivid and sharp recollections of Lina nicely complement those of Lady Downes in the journal’s Inaugural Issue (January 2001).
Finally, and this is now a regular feature, the Archive’s rich holdings and expertise bring out new facts. A revelation to us all, Love for Three Oranges was first heard in London during Prokofiev’s lifetime, and what’s more, in English – brought to the public by the BBC.
The Prokofiev Archive has started a new feature on the Foundation’s Website www.sprkfv.net – a Newsletter that lists all current Prokofiev events in the UK, the USA and France. This was made possible thanks to the dedication of two subscribers from the latter two countries. I should like to hear from anyone willing to contribute to this resource by collating a listing of events in their own country.