Albert Coates

The story of the first UK performance of Love for Three Oranges, conducted by Albert Coates and broadcast by the BBC on 4 July 1935, was recounted in Issue 9 of this journal, and brought to attention the friendship between Prokofiev and Coates.1 However, this episode appears right at the end of the Coates-Prokofiev story, as far as it is recorded in the Serge Prokofiev Archive – Coates and Prokofiev had met nearly twenty years earlier, and their friendship is well-documented both in Prokofiev’s diaries (largely between 1915 and 1922), and in their unpublished correspondence (largely between 1921 and 1935). Taken together, from these sources emerges a picture of mutual admiration and respect, a warm friendship tempered only by an occasional sharp exchange. Coates, nine years Prokofiev’s senior, did a great deal (particularly early in Prokofiev’s career) to promote his music, using his influence where he could, and making advantageous introductions. For his part, Prokofiev consistently spoke highly of Coates as a musician, and was always keen to perform with him.

Photograph courtesy of the Tully Potter Collection