excerpt from 'Sergey Prokofiev diaries: 23 May 1924' pp. 56-57 (264 words)

excerpt from 'Sergey Prokofiev diaries: 23 May 1924' pp. 56-57 (264 words)

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Sergey Prokofiev diaries: 23 May 1924

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Chorus rehearsal for Seven, They Are Seven. Apparently this is the sixth rehearsal the chorus has had but the first to which the composer has been invited. However, when I got there it transpired that the rehearsal had been postponed until tomorrow because today's rehearsal was devoted to Chaliapin, who was working with Koussevitzky on Godunov. Chaliapin had come over from America and was touring round several places. I did not mind too much, since it was fascinating to watch Chaliapin take charge of the rehearsal, not merely singing but generally stage-managing it to the extent of encroaching into Koussevitzky's conducting, a procedure that exasperated the latter no little given that the interventions, couched though they were in the most affectionate terms ('Seryozha, my dear friend...') were hardly expressed in the most tactful manner. (Chaliapin to Koussevitzky: 'Serge, why do you fling your arms about like that: you don't give yourself time to finish the gesture,' or: 'Serge, please make sure you leave a decent pause here. Pauses, after all, are part of the music!'

I talked to him after the rehearsal; he was a real 'charmeur', and immediately proposed that I make a setting of a text that had caught his fancy about a king and a jester. There and then he declaimed the verses with great refinement. Afterwards I came back with Koussevitzky, who spent the whole journey in a very bad temper, complaining that Chaliapin had upset him by interfering in his conducting, now he was feeling ill and for two pins would withdraw from conducting the concert,

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excerpt from 'Sergey Prokofiev diaries: 23 May 1924' pp. 56-57 (264 words)


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