My soul is hurting

Sergey Prokofjev between two worlds

Prokofiev's musical heritage belongs to three distinct phases: pre-revolutionary Russia, after 1918 the United States and Western Europe, and from the mid-1930s the Soviet Union. This has meant that in the assessment of his music, ideological and political points of view are unavoidable. Most debate has been about the fact that he chose to settle in Stalin's Soviet Union just as Stalin carried out purges, deportations, imprisonments and executions in the millions. And that, as a Soviet citizen, he not only wrote several of his most significant works, but also several large-scale tributes to the dictator and to the Soviet regime. This choice, its background and its effects on his life and music, is the focal point of the book. And the answers to why he voluntarily submitted to a totalitarian regime sheds light not only on his personality, but in more general terms on the general conditions and significance of art in a contemporary world: its integrity, its principled independence and its social responsibility. The title, words his friends heard from him repeatedly befor he died, sadly reflect his last, very difficult years.

Gyldendal 2018, 256 pages