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Sergei Prokofiev: The Genius In Stalin's Shadow

Sergei Prokofiev died 60 years ago -- on March 5, 1953 -- but the famous Russian composer’s passing received little attention in the Soviet Union. It was overshadowed by the death of dictator Josef Stalin, announced on the same day. Prokofiev’s funeral was attended by only a handful of friends and relatives who carried no flowers, as they had all been bought by Stalin’s mourners. But if his death went unacknowledged, Prokofiev's legacy did not. He continues to be regarded as one of the great composers of the 20th century, whose modernist works continue to provoke and surprise. (13 PHOTOS)

After the Russian Revolution, Prokofiev saw little opportunity for his experimental music in Russia and resettled first in San Francisco, then a few years later in Paris. In the United States he wrote the opera "The Love for Three Oranges," which premiered in 1921.
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After the Russian Revolution, Prokofiev saw little opportunity for his experimental music in Russia and resettled first in San Francisco, then a few years later in Paris. In the United States he wrote the opera "The Love for Three Oranges," which premiered in 1921.

Prokofiev (left) with film director Sergei Eisenstein in 1943. Prokofiev wrote the scores for Eisenstein's historical epics "Aleksandr Nevsky" and "Ivan the Terrible."
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Prokofiev (left) with film director Sergei Eisenstein in 1943. Prokofiev wrote the scores for Eisenstein's historical epics "Aleksandr Nevsky" and "Ivan the Terrible."

Prokofiev was evacuated from Moscow in 1941, leaving his wife and children behind, and spent the war in the Caucasus, where he began a relationship with the writer Mira Mendelson. She would collaborate with him on the libretto to his opera "War and Peace," based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy.
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Prokofiev was evacuated from Moscow in 1941, leaving his wife and children behind, and spent the war in the Caucasus, where he began a relationship with the writer Mira Mendelson. She would collaborate with him on the libretto to his opera "War and Peace," based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy.

In 1948, Prokofiev's modernist work fell afoul of Stalin's regime. The head of the Union of Composers denounced him as "formalist" and "bourgeois" and public performances of his compositions were banned for two years. His wife, Lina, from whom he was separated, was arrested and sent to a labor camp.
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In 1948, Prokofiev's modernist work fell afoul of Stalin's regime. The head of the Union of Composers denounced him as "formalist" and "bourgeois" and public performances of his compositions were banned for two years. His wife, Lina, from whom he was separated, was arrested and sent to a labor camp.

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