Lost Motherland: A Portrait of Sergei Prokofiev

The unruly child of Russia

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Program notes

A musical genius with human failings...both sides of the beloved composer are revealed in this striking account of his 1936 return to Russia and its tragic consequences. Oliver Becker takes as his starting point a diary, recently discovered in 1989, which Prokofiev kept during his trip to Russia in 1927.

In 1927, Sergei Prokofiev returned to the Soviet Union for the first time after almost ten years in self-imposed exile. In 1936, he re-settled there, bringing with him his wife and sons. During the difficult years that followed, Prokofiev experienced a slew of professional and personal problems only to be resolved with his death in 1953.

The film includes interviews with Aram Khachaturian's son, Karen, Tichon Chrenikov, who dominated Soviet cultural bureaucracy for decades and who still lives in Moscow today, Prokofiev's son, Sviatoslav, etc. Oliver Becker also showcases extensive footage of performances by living artists like Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Valery Gergiev, Alexander Melnikov, and Vadim Repin as well as late greats like Van Cliburn, Yevgeny Svetlanov and David Oistrakh. Prokofiev himself is also seen in a performance from the end of his life, playing the waltz from Cinderella.

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