Letter from Marina Rakhmanova
Serge Prokofiev's "Diary" is an absolutely unique book. I cannot think of another composer who left notes of this kind. One could probably think of one of Prokofiev's teachers, Taneev; the three printed volumes of his diary are quite interesting, but Taneev did not at all possess the wonderful gift of eloquence characteristic of Prokofiev. In his "Diary" Serge Prokofiev says that he could become a writer; in fact, he did become a writer, and a very good one.
Prokofiev's "Diary" is not intended just for musicologists or musicians. Oh, certainly, it is helpful if, when a certain composition is mentioned, you can immediately hear it in your head. It is helpful, but it is not necessary. There are no comments in the book; they are not necessary, either. Later, music historians will start working. One can be sure that they will comment each precious line of the "Diary". But for now the most important thing is the image of the man and of the world that grows in you as you read the book. This image is accessible to every reader.
Igor Stravinsky was terribly mistaken - or, let's say it, he was not totally sincere - when he tried to convince everybody that Prokofiev had never been interested in anything but music, that he had no understanding of politics, or literature, or other arts. It is just the other way round. Prokofiev was interested in all sorts of things, and he understood them very well. He possessed a perspicacious and flexible mind. But, unlike Stravinsky's, his vision of the world and people was straight and sharp, he did not erect artificial "systems" between the world and himself, he put on no "glasses". The texts of Prokofiev, even those referring to very difficult times, radiate, first of all, light and joy. These texts are a powerful source of pure energy, and the reader will feel it starting from the very first pages of the "Diary".
It is difficult to say what is most interesting in those two thick volumes. Everything; or, maybe, it depends on the reader. To me personally, the most interesting part was the 20s, when major events were happening in Prokofiev's life and when he met so many different people during his travels. People we know very well, and people of whom we know nothing or almost nothing. I must admit that, as a woman, I was deeply touched by the story of Prokofiev's love affair, which ended by an idyll in Bavarian Alps. As a person who had always felt the presence of religious sources in Prokofiev's music but who would never give an exact name or definition to these sources (the word "religious" I am using is not quite exact - anyway, I do not mean "confessional"), I was fascinated by the pages in which Prokofiev speaks about the foundations of his vision of the world, of himself and his activity. It was very amusing to read how Prokofiev selected a name for his younger son, even though I never understood why he liked so much the "Nordic" name of Askold. Anyway, should I write a hundred pages, I still wouldn't be able to mention all that struck me in the book.
I think that the editors (to whom we must all feel a deep gratitude) chose for it very good epigraphs. However, I would add one more, from the 1910 records: "When I was asked what wishes I would like to hear for the New Year, I thought and I answered quite sincerely: nothing. Indeed, everything is all right, and it will be still better in the future".
Yes, I know that later, in real life, things were not always "still better". It happened that they were much worse. But nevertheless, I would like to see this sentence as an epigraph to this wonderful book.