Simon Morrison will be giving a talk on his just-published biography of Lina Prokofiev, wife of composer Serge Prokofiev, on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at 6:00 pm in Columbia University's Butler Library, Room 523. The event is free and open to the public.
Following World War II, Lina was arrested as a foreign spy and spent eight years in the Soviet gulag. During that time, Prokofiev died. Morrison's book presents evidence of how her release from the camps in 1956 was due in large measure to composer Dmitri Shostakovich, and also in part to a composer who is not as well known in the west, Tikhon Khrennikov. Virginia Kay, daughter of composer Ulysses Kay, met Shostakovich and Khrennikov three years later.
In 1958, Ulysses Kay was a member of the first delegation of composers sent to the Soviet Union, a part of the U.S. State Department's Cultural, Educational and Technical Exchange Agreement. The others in his group were Roy Harris, Peter Mennin, and Roger Sessions. In a letter to Kay, President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote that Kay and his fellow composers "represent us all in bringing assurance to the people you meet that the United States is a friendly nation and one dedicated to the search for world peace and to the promotion of the well-being and security of the community of nations."
The following year, in November, 1959, a delegation of composers from the U.S.S.R. came to the U.S. for a similar visit. Kay welcomed them, and his daughter Virginia, then seven years old, presented them with a bouquet of flowers. The moment was captured by this photograph. The group, shown here with Virginia Kay are, from left to right, composers Dmitri Kabalevsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Tikhon Khrennikov, Fikret Amirov, Konstantin Dankevich, and the musicologist and critic Boris Yarustovsky.
The group, shown here with Virginia Kay are, from left to right, composers Dmitri Kabalevsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Tikhon Khrennikov, Fikret Amirov, Konstantin Dankevich, and the musicologist and critic Boris Yarustovsky.