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Video: "Prokofiev's Casus", or two widows of the great composer
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
Composer Sergei Sergeevich Prokofiev died on March 5, 1953, on the same day as the leader of the peoples, Comrade Stalin. The death of the latter overshadowed the death of the musician. Everyone who wanted to come to say goodbye to Prokofiev came to the civil funeral service at the House of Composers with indoor flowers in pots - there were no others in Moscow that day, all the flowers "went" to Stalin. At the composer's tomb stood his widow - the humble and sad Mira Mendelssohn. And few people knew that at that time his other widow, the prisoner Lina Lyuber, was pushing a barrel of slop in the village of Abez. She knew nothing and knew that there was no longer the person whom she loved more than anyone else in the world.
Karolina Kodina-Lyuber … This name was not remembered for a long time, it was not in any biography of Prokofiev. And all because the six-time winner of the Stalin Prize, one of the most famous composers, should not have a foreign spouse. But it was with this fragile Spanish woman, in whose veins "enemy" French, Polish and Catalan blood flowed, that Sergei Prokofiev lived 20 happy years. But this woman was mercilessly erased first from the life of the composer, and then from the memories of him. In the biography of the composer, there is only a place for Mira Mendelssohn - "exemplary" in all respects. She was the daughter of the "old Bolshevik" Abram Mendelssohn, a Komsomol member, a graduate of the literary institute and, they said, the niece of Lazar Kaganovich …
Lina and Sergey
Caroline grew up in a musical family. Her father Juan Codina and mother Olga Nemyskaya - Spanish and Polish - were singers. From Spain they moved to New York, and in 1918 Prokofiev was the highlight of the musical program at Carnegie Hall. The manner of Prokofiev's performance delighted Olga Nemyskaya, and she literally forced her daughter, who at that time was an aspiring singer, to meet Prokofiev after the concert. Lina herself did not like either the music or the 27-year-old lanky Russian composer himself.
At that time, Lina was 21 years old, she was surprisingly similar to the silent movie star Teresa Brooks, she knew her own worth very well, and men simply could not pass by. She not only sang beautifully, but also knew five foreign languages. And she did not want to portray an enthusiastic admirer in front of Prokofiev. Lina hoped that she would remain unnoticed among the other young ladies, but Prokofiev immediately noticed a beautiful dark-haired girl in the crowd and invited her to enter. And that's how it all began. Later in his diary, he wrote: “Lina struck me with the liveliness and brilliance of her black eyes and some kind of youthful trepidation. In short, she was the type of Mediterranean beauty that has always attracted me."
Quite a lot of time passed, and Sergey and Lina were together almost constantly. Prokofiev called Carolina "Birdie" and wrote a cycle of songs for her. they gave concerts together - the Russian pianist and composer Prokofiev and the Spanish mezzo-soprano Lyuber (she took the name of her maternal grandmother as her pseudonym). Karolina quickly learned Russian. Between tours, the couple got married. The wedding took place on September 20, 1923 in the Bavarian town of Ettal. In February 1924, little Svyatoslav appeared in their family. And after 4 years - the second son - Oleg.
Fragile Lina has only become more beautiful over the years. She was considered a model of elegance in the music salons of Paris and London, New York and Milan. Her style was highly appreciated by Diaghilev, Picasso and Matisse, Balmont dedicated poems to her, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky, Prokofiev's musical rivals, paid tribute to her. And Lina surprisingly managed to combine three seemingly incompatible roles at once - a socialite, a singer and the composer's wife.
Carolina took care of Prokofiev's life, organized tours, relocations, negotiated, translated into different languages. And she did everything elegantly, playfully and beautifully. She supported her husband always and in everything. And when Prokofiev wanted to return to the USSR after a tour that lasted 18 years, Ptashka put the final point in his throwing. Indeed, in the USSR, Prokofiev was promised the opportunity to write music, while in the West, like Stravinsky and Rachmaninov, he was forced to engage in performing activities in order to feed himself. Lina adored her husband and understood that creativity came first for him, which meant that there were no options, she needed to move.
Moving to the USSR
In 1936, the Prokofiev family returned to the Soviet Union. Children study at an Anglo-American school. Lina is also in the spotlight in the Union - she shone at receptions in numerous embassies. Prokofiev was indeed allowed to create, but they quickly clarified how a Soviet composer should actually create. Almost in parallel with Romeo and Juliet, he writes an opera about the Ukrainian collective farm - Semyon Kotko and Lenin's cantata. The circle of friends of the Prokofievs is catastrophically thinning - this one is missing, another is arrested, the third is shot or declared a spy. But Lina continues to write to her mother in France, visit the embassies and communicate with her foreign friends.
In 1938, Sergei Prokofiev was vacationing in Kislovodsk. From there, literally in the first days, he wrote to his wife: “A charming Jewess is following me here, but don’t think anything bad …” Lina didn’t even strain, but in vain. Mendelssohn Prokofiev could not resist the persecution of Mira. Moreover, the resort romance has grown into something more. In 1941, Prokofiev left the family. Carolina's heart was torn to pieces, but she "kept the brand" - no tears, no scandals, no requests. She continued to love her husband and was sure that their breakup was temporary.
But when, a few years later, Prokofiev started talking about divorce, she reared up. And one can only guess whether it was wounded pride, love or fears for the fate of his own and children. Knowledgeable people explained to Prokofiev that a marriage registered in Bavaria is considered invalid in the USSR, which means that he can marry in peace. On January 15, 1948, he did just that. Less than a month after this wedding, Lina Kodina was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in the camps for espionage.
Life after Prokofiev
Lina Kodina learned about her husband's death in the camp - one of the prisoners over the radio heard a concert in memory of Prokofiev and told her. It seems incredible, but she bitterly mourned the man who abandoned her with her sons in a difficult time to their fate, the man through whose fault she ended up in the camp. In 1956, Lina returned from Kolyma. As contemporaries recalled, literally two days later she was again an example of elegance. Almost immediately, she declared her rights to the composer's legacy. It was then that it turned out that the genius left behind two widows at once. This piquant circumstance entered the practice of jurisprudence under the name "Prokofiev's case."
Stalin died, the marriage between Lina and Prokofiev was recognized as legal, so she and her sons got almost all the property of the composer. Lina wanted to go to the West. She turned to Brezhnev more than once to give her the opportunity to see her mother. In 1974 she was granted a 3-month visa to the UK. At 77, she left for the West and never returned. But the Soviet authorities were in no hurry to declare her a refugee - they were afraid of a political scandal: the widow of the great Prokofiev asked for political asylum in the West. Therefore, the Soviet embassy in London extended her visa without any problems.
In the West, Lina Prokofieva divided her time between London and Paris, where her eldest son and his family later moved. She spent a lot of time in the USA and Germany. In London, in 1983, she founded the Sergei Prokofiev Foundation, where she transferred her extensive archive, which included correspondence with her husband. She celebrated her last, 91st birthday, in a hospital in Bonn with her sons. The terminally ill woman even took a sip of champagne. She died on January 3, 1989 at the Winston Churchill Clinic in London. The recordings of the soprano singing by Lina Lyubera have not survived.
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