The Cantata for the Twentieth Anniversary of October, or How the Specter of Communism Haunted Prokofiev
University of California
By Simon Morrison and Nelly Kravetz
It is well known that during a terrible period in Russian history, marked by the consolidation of totalitarian control over all aspects of society, the composer Sergey Prokofiev moved from Paris to Moscow. The Stalinist government needed celebrities to shore up its cultural standing, and Prokofiev, an international artist longing to return to his homeland, succumbed to the government’s temptations. In 1936, he became a national artist, composing patriotic works that celebrated Russia’s cultural and political history. In the months ahead, he composed a series of works for the centennial of Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837), the nation’s most beloved poet.