THE SERGE PROKOFIEV
Department of Music
Princeton, NJ 08544
Aron Vangorder (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Christopher Mann (email@example.com)
Prokofiev’s Cousins: A Tragedy
Every Happy Family…
(Natalia Savkina. Translated by Simon Morrison)
Каждая счастливая семья...
Prokofiev’s Mass Songs (Laurel E. Fay)
Sergey Prokofiev and William Primrose:
An Unrealized Collaboration
(Vladimir V. Perkhin. Translated by Simon Morrison)
Gavriil Popov. 1941-1945: Wartime Music
The feature piece in this issue is by the distinguished Moscow-based musicologist Natalia Savkina, who has spent years compiling the biographies of Prokofiev’s maternal aunt and cousins. She tells an inescapably tragic story, a chronicle of systematic repression that was all too typical of the fates of aristocratic Russian families in the years following the Revolution. The letters Savkina has unearthed at the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, and the Serge Prokofiev Archive at Goldsmiths attest to Prokofiev’s familial devotion—his efforts to keep his relatives fed and clothed during their imprisonment and exile, and to help their children get by in their absence. The chronicle is alternately chilling and poignant, especially as it concerns the fates of Prokofiev’s beloved Aunt Katya and Cousin Shurik.
There follows a much-needed account of the mass songs that Prokofiev composed in the 1930s for various Soviet contests and competitions. To date, the origins of these songs, and the sources for their texts, has been more a matter of guesswork than scholarship. But in her painstakingly researched article, Laurel Fay fully explores these lesser-known works, whose sources range from a propagandistic collection of fake-lore edited by Maxim Gorky to the pages of the Soviet newspaper Light Industry.
By way of a sequel to the feature article from the last issue, on Prokofiev and the violinist Robert SoŽtens, this issue of Three Oranges also includes a short piece by the St. Petersburg-based literary historian Vladimir Perkhin, who explores the violist William Primrose’s attempt to commission a Concerto for Viola from Prokofiev. The conductor Serge Koussevitzky expressed interest in conducting the premiere, and correspondence flowed back and forth between New York and Moscow through the VOKS cultural exchange organization. But postwar politics and bad timing (so often the case with Prokofiev) ensured that the commission went unrealized. Perkhin makes use of documents unearthed at the State Archive of the Russian Federation, which contains a trove of hitherto unstudied material about Prokofiev’s contacts with Soviet officials before and after his relocation to Moscow in 1936.
The issue is rounded out Kevin Bartig’s review of two recent recordings of music by Gavriil Popov, a composer whom Prokofiev greatly admired, to the point of recommending him to the filmmaker Sergey Eisenstein for the completion of the soundtrack of Ivan the Terrible, following the stroke that Prokofiev suffered in 1945.
14 July 2013