Friday, June 22, 2007

Bird Friday Honors Sergei Prokofiev!

The Russian musician Sergei Prokifiev composed the ballet Romeo and Juliet during Stalin's terror. When I listen to the piece called "The Montagues and Capulets," also known as "Dance of the Knights," I hear the hatred and tension as the captive nations suffer in agony while the communists turn them brother against brother.

Wikipedia's entry on "The Montagues and Capulets" observes:

"A dark and atmospheric piece, it has become a de facto signature tune for the Soviet era, and is used as the soundtrack for numerous dramas, documentaries and adverts that have Soviet subject matter."

Watch and listen! Here some young Japanese musicians perform their rendition. Here is the entire piece on GoEar. Prokofiev's ballet was not performed when it was written for political reasons; his life became very difficult because of arrests of his friends and foreign-born wife as well as the vacillating Communist Party policies and controls on cultural life. He died on the same day as Stalin, but many of his artist friends had gone before him.

Prokofiev also composed the children's symphony Peter and the Wolf. I also see this story as an allegory about what was happening in Russia under Stalin's terror.

My favorite character is the duck who gets eaten by the wolf.
Here are some YouTube snips of Peter and his duck.

Grandfather tells Peter to stay at home and not go into the meadow because hunters have discovered the tracks of a wolf...but boys like Peter are not afraid of wolves! The full story with music is here!

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