Composing for the Red Screen: Prokofiev and Soviet Film by Kevin Bartig

By Kevin Bartig

Sound movie captivated Sergey Prokofiev in the course of the ultimate 20 years of his existence: he thought of composing for almost dozen images, ultimately venture 8 of them, all Soviet productions. Hollywood luminaries equivalent to Gloria Swanson tempted him with commissions, and arguably extra humans heard his movie track than his efforts in all different genres mixed. movies for which Prokofiev composed, particularly these of Sergey Eisenstein, are actually classics of global cinema. Drawing on newly to be had resources, Composing for the purple Screen examines - for the 1st time - the whole quantity of this prodigious cinematic occupation.

Author Kevin Bartig examines how Prokofiev's movie tune derived from a self-imposed problem: to compose "serious" track for a vast viewers. the image that emerges is of a composer looking someone film-music voice, shunning Hollywood types and objecting to his Soviet colleagues' ideologically expedient movie songs. Prokofiev's movie song as a complete - with famous blockbusters like Alexander Nevsky thought of along extra vague or aborted initiatives - finds that there have been a number of options to the problem, every one with various levels of luck. Prokofiev conscientiously balanced his personal populist schedule, the perceived aesthetic calls for of the flicks themselves, and, afterward, Soviet bureaucratic calls for for accessibility.

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99 The lyricism and clarity of the new simplicity are shared by both film score and suite, however, accounting for the latter having become one of the most performed works in Prokofiev’s oeuvre. The suite is also among the composer’s most quoted works in Western popular culture: Alec Guiness, for example, used it in the soundtrack of his comedy The Horse’s Mouth (1958). 8. The Kizhe ballet, 1963 (Muzïkal’naya zhizn’ 16 [1963]: 6) nineteenth-century Russian literature, Love and Death, uses the suite’s sarcastic tone to great effect.

52 Prokofiev later complained in his autobiography that the script suffered multiple revisions that “muddled and confused” the film, resulting in a mediocre final product. ”54 Prokofiev’s flexible, adaptable score was, however, wholly spared the cuttingroom floor. Fayntsimmer merely shifted the positions of several of the score’s shorter numbers to accommodate the script’s revisions. Prokofiev’s tour of Russia in the fall of 1933 (to Leningrad, Moscow, and Voronezh) allowed him another visit to Belgoskino, where he assisted Fayntsimmer in devising an updated musical plan.

Prokofiev, 19363 Throughout 1936, Soviet cultural institutions prepared to commemorate the February 1937 centenary of Alexander Pushkin’s death. Theaters mounted new stage productions of the writer’s works, libraries formed reading groups, and scholars readied public lectures, all extolling the life and works of the man considered the father of modern Russian literature. 4 Its celebratory mood was also perhaps the most paradoxical, given contemporaneous political repression, show trials, material deprivations, and the not-so-distant memories of agricultural collectivization and famine.

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