The house in which  Romeo

Sviatoslav PROKOFIEV



Polenovo, Prokofiev family, Nikifor
Crossing the river Oka. Left to right: Lina Prokofiev with a friend, Sviatoslav, Serge and Oleg Prokofiev, and the buoy-keeper Nikifor; 1935.

Second letter

Polenovo, 27 July 1935

I received your letter of the 21st and the telegram from Chicago, with the news that you will be coming earlier […]. First, how are you going to travel? It’s unlikely that I shall be able to get a ticket for the boat with Soviet currency, although I shall try in Moscow, when I’m en route from Polenovo to Baku. If that’s not possible, either way costs more or less the same, so it’s up to you to choose. It’s more interesting by sea, but quicker by rail. If it’s hot, it’s pleasanter by sea; if cold, then by train. You’ll have to pay a full fare for Sviatoslav […]. When you get to Moscow, the first thing to do is to go to the Bolshoi Theatre Administration office (in Sverdlov Square, over the Metro station) and get authorization for the journey to Polenovo […] and immediately arrange for them to have a car going to Polenovo: insist that it is a saloon, and not a bus or a lorry […]. I shall try to keep the bath-house for you, although the problem is that it’s packed here, three people in some rooms and a detached house doesn’t stay empty. General departure starts on the 15th, and from the 20th there’ll hardly be anyone here […]. It’s easy to arrange a vegetarian diet. You have to inform the local doctor the previous day. I am brought (very good) milk by Marusia Afanasieva, who is the cleaner from House No 2 and I have already spoken to her – she also has curds and eggs. The accompanist is probably leaving by the 15th. I return from the Caucasus on the 22nd or 23rd, unless I go to Sukhumi; if I go, I shall be back about five days later; then I shall be able to act as your accompanist […].

I can take the children back to Paris, it isn’t such a great detour to Basel, but make sure that Horowitz knows this, so that he doesn’t send me off on some journey from Basel. He doesn’t have much on for November. It looks as though it will be a waste of time as regards America if Boston is in the middle of January, and Chicago the middle of February. If there is no other interesting booking for the USA, it’s not worth going there this winter. But I’m not pulling out of America, so Horowitz can go on trying to find me bookings for February, and I shall probably return to the USSR for January. Tell Horowitz that I am leaving for the Caucasus on 22 or 23 August (I’m performing with Defauw (2) ) where I shall be “practically” [in English in the original] unobtainable. From 13 to 17 August I shall be in Tiflis (Plekhanov pr. 123, Tarumov), and letters take about eight to ten days to reach Tiflis, even “par avion”, so it’s up to him to make a decision if there are any bookings. Also, tell him that Miaskovsky’s address is Sivtsev Vrazhek 4, flat 11, whereas he writes flat 4. I am also writing to Monnet that I have finished the piano score of the concerto – will he pay you the five thousand? Wait a few days and then try and get in touch with him […]. It’s not good that you have to expend all this energy, and are not relaxing. Polenovo is good for that. Although it’s rainy, tennis, volley-ball and swimming go on regardless. Just now there are masses of mushrooms.

I’m in good health and working hard. I haven’t missed a day. I’m on the third act of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve delivered the March for the Gymnastics Parade, completed the piano score of the Violin Concerto and written an album of ten pieces for children. If you do get here before the general exodus, get to know the Messerers – everything revolves around them. Mutnykh is pleasant and a sportsman – he plays tennis, chess, goes swimming and fishes.

I hug and kiss you, Mémé and the children. It’s a great pity they are arriving when I’m not there, and so I shan’t see their first reactions to the USSR. It’s so funny that Bébin is toothless!.   NEXT

(2) Désiré Defauw, Belgian conductor and violinist (1885-1960).