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Books

Book review

‘Lina and Serge’ by Simon Morrison

When in 1936, Sergei Prokofiev moved from the West to Stalin’s Soviet Union, the choice not only affected his music, but put his personal life in turmoil. An innovative composer, Prokofiev lost his freedom to create, and his first wife, Lina, a foreigner, was deprived of her liberty altogether. In 1948, she was charged with treason and sentenced to 20 years in the gulag, of which she would serve eight.

Lured with commissions and privileges, the Prokofievs never even discussed their decision to migrate to the totalitarian state. Prokofiev, who initially had left Russia after the revolution, wanted to make Moscow the center of his international operations. Lina had ambitions of her own, hoping to perform on Soviet radio, something she would not later admit.

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