FEATURE: Prokofiev in Japan in 1918
Motoo Ohtaguro and Serge Prokofiev:
an unexpected friendship
(Yumiko Nunokawa and Shin-ichi Numabe)
Motoo Ohtaguro interviews Prokofiev
Yorisada Tokugawa and the story of an unrealised commission (Shin-ichi Numabe)
Prokofiev in Japan: a view from the interior
Prokofiev’s Last American Tour
Elizaveta Dattel in Memoriam
Juan Codina – a Singer
(Serge Prokofiev Jr.)
Partisans in the Ukrainian Steppes
Vladimir Jurowski Conducts Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony and Ode to the End of the War
“Tomorrow at twelve noon I shall board the Hosan-Maru and two days later I shall be in Yokohama. Farewell Russia, farewell my old dreams, hail new shores!” These were Prokofiev’s thoughts as he prepared to leave Russian soil on 28 May 1918, on his way to the unknown, luring land of Japan. This issue’s feature, Prokofiev in Japan, throws light on the two months he spent there, a short episode in his roaming life that remained undocumented for almost 90 years until the publication of his Diary in 2002. Anthony Phillips, the Diary’s translator, offers a riveting commentary on Prokofiev’s whereabouts and thoughts during those two months, with sizeable extracts from the Diary. Yumiko Nunokawa and Shin-ichi Numabe provide a fascinating view from the inside, as it were, with an introduction to Prokofiev’s principal connections in Tokyo, Motoo Ohtaguro and Yorisada Tokugawa, two Japanese with a shared passion for Western music and culture.
Prokofiev’s concert tours around the world are another untapped research area. Elizabeth Bergman concentrates on Prokofiev’s last American tour in 1938, almost twenty years after his Japanese adventure. By then Prokofiev was a seasoned traveller, and the excitement and expectations of his early years in the West had waned. This thoroughly documented discussion reveals the composer’s business-like approach to work during his intense schedule, with some entertaining moments such as his characteristic anger towards shabby performances of his own works, and his appearance in glittering company at the Academy Awards in Hollywood.
The main theme of the previous issue, Pushkin’s play Boris Godunov for which Prokofiev wrote music, is picked up again with an article on Elizaveta Dattel, the Soviet musicologist who first started recovering from oblivion Prokofiev’s unpublished scores for stage music in the 1960s. Irina Medvedeva’s article provides a welcome insight into Dattel’s tough life and her dedication to Prokofiev’s work.
In the November 2006 issue I announced the first volume of the much-awaited publication of Prokofiev’s diary, translated and annotated by Anthony Phillips for Faber & Faber. This was universally hailed as an extraordinary achievement. I found it a sheer joy to read Prokofiev’s lively text in this elegant and perceptive translation, and with thorough annotations that transform the diary into a useful reference book on Russian history and culture. I am therefore delighted to announce the second volume – Sergey Prokofiev: Diaries 1915-1923, Behind the Mask, with a Faber discount to subscribers on page 24.