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On Russian Music$
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Richard Taruskin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249790

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249790.001.0001

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Prokofieff's Return

Prokofieff's Return

(p.233) 20 Prokofieff's Return
On Russian Music

Richard Taruskin

University of California Press

This chapter appraises the invocation of Prokofieff's essence, in an age that found stark reflection of itself in Prokofieff's piece for Sergey Eisenstein's 1938 film Alexander Nevsky. The portrayal of the victory of a thirteenth-century Russian despot over an alliance of Germanic and Finnish invaders paralleled the contemporary hostility that Russia was facing on a common German Finnish front, and the requisite of a new despot to garner support. The project, both the film and the music, was executed under strict party supervision, and hence, the content had to be appeasing in nature. From the outside, it seems an outrage, an unacceptable compromise of art, virtually unqualified for greatness. This chapter seeks to extract the finesse that this compromised art of appeasing reflected, not once separating it from its essential yoke. Alexander Nevsky seemed to lead by example; authentic art requires political, moral aloofness.

Keywords:   Prokofieff, Alexander Nevsky, Germanic, Russian despot, Finnish invaders

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