excerpt from 'Sergey Prokofiev diaries: 5 January 1926' pp. 248-249 (440 words)

excerpt from 'Sergey Prokofiev diaries: 5 January 1926' pp. 248-249 (440 words)

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Sergey Prokofiev diaries: 5 January 1926

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Stokowski is performing Myaskovsky's Symphony No. 5 today, using orchestral parts I sent a year ago to Ziloti, who was responsible for arranging this performance. I had asked Ziloti the day before yesterday to get me a ticket; he prevaricated, saying Stokowski's concerts were always sold out, and in short it appeared today that there was no ticket. Although V. Bashkirov had invited us to dinner at the Russian Restaurant  opposite Carnegie Hall (he brought along a very pretty but slightly vulgar Jewish girl) I excused myself halfway through to catch the interval of the concert, hoping to find some way of getting in. But there was a crowd of about a hundred people all desperate for access, pushing and shoving, and at the artists' entrance it was the same story. For half an hour I elbowed my way through, apologising, cursing and sweating, until I finally managed to grab the coat-tails of the assistant manager, who was trying to hide from his assailants on every side. To him I spluttered out, 'I am just off the boat from Europe and at Myaskovsky's express request must hear his Symphony. It was I who provided the material you are using for the performance.' He understood not a word, but something in what I said made an impression on him, and he asked what my name was. I identified myself, not imagining for one moment that it would mean anything to this wretched institution, which had never performed any of my music. But the assistant manager smiled: 'Oh, we have been wanting to perform your Violin Concerto. Come this way, although you will probably have to stand.' Ptashka and I were let through, and found ourselves among a crowd of people standing, including Ziloti, Casella and Szigeti. What an uncivilised organisation! If all the tickets have been sold, things must be going well, and if they are going so well then why could they not allow themselves the luxury of keeping a couple of boxes aside for visiting musicians? The orchestra is genuinely superb: Stokowski conducted well, from memory. When I had looked at the score it seemed to me that there were a few places where not everything would be heard, but with this orchestra everything did sound. Szigeti commented, 'This orchestra sounds so marvellous it makes no difference what they play.' The Symphony itself is not Myaskovsky's best. It has too many Glazunovian devices, which come across as simply 'prentice pieces, and there are longueurs. I was not very pleased with it. Nevertheless, it had a decent reception and some parts of the hall applauded loud and long.

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excerpt from 'Sergey Prokofiev diaries: 5 January 1926' pp. 248-249 (440 words)


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