A Prokofiev Family Tree
If you tune in to WFCR during the noon hour on Tuesday, you'll hear, together on our stage, three generations of a remarkable artistic family. First, there's composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953, pictured above with wife Lina, more on whom below), one of the giants of 20th century music, represented by his ever-popular children's story with music, "Peter and the Wolf." The narration, usually performed by one actor, will in this performance be divided among two: Oleg Prokofiev (1928-1998, below left), painter, sculptor, and the composer's son and champion, and Gabriel Prokofiev (below right), composer, producer, son of Oleg and grandson of Sergei. What kind of music does this Gabriel compose? Stay tuned after "Peter and the Wolf" to find out. Hint: You will not confuse Gabriel's music with his granddad's.
Missing from the airwaves, but not from the discussion, is the remarkable woman who was Gabriel's grandmother, Oleg's mother and Sergei's first wife, Lina Prokofiev (1897-1989, three photos below). Born in Madrid as Carolina Codina y Llubera, the young singer Lina Llubera met the famed expatriate composer in 1919 in New York, where she had grown up, married him three years later, and moved to the Soviet Union with him when he repatriated in 1936. There, her story takes a darker turn: Isolation, Sergei's infidelities, his abandonment for a younger second wife, and Lina's eight years in a Soviet gulag. That story is told in the new book "The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev" (review here) by Prokofiev scholar Simon Morrison, whom you can hear discuss the book on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show. For anyone under the under the delusion that nobility of talent translates into nobility of character, be warned that Sergei Prokofiev does not come off well in Morrison's telling. Then again, with tomorrow's bicentennial of history's most ignoble musical genius looming, I think I'll save this week's store of disapprobation for Richard Wagner.