Mira Mendelssohn Prokofiev

Mira Mendelssohn Prokofiev

Kiev, City of Kiev, Ukraine
Death 8 Jun 1968 (aged 53)
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia
Burial Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia
Memorial ID 21906369 · View Source
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Author. The second wife of composer Sergei Prokofiev, and collaborator on his late stage works. She co-wrote the librettos for his operas "Betrothal in a Monastery" (1940), "War and Peace" (1942), and "The Story of a Real Man" (1947), and the scenario for the ballet "The Stone Flower" (1954). Prokofiev dedicated his famous Piano Sonata No. 8 (1944) to her. Maria-Cecilia Abramovna Mendelssohn was born in Kiev, Ukraine, the only child of a Jewish professor, and studied at the Gorky Institute in Moscow. When she met Prokofiev in the Summer of 1939 he was exactly twice her age (48 to her 24) and married to the Spanish-born singer Lina Prokofiev, though the marriage was by then strained. The first hint of their relationship was his setting of one of her poems in the cycle "Seven Songs" (1939). In 1941 Prokofiev left Lina and their two sons and lived openly with Mira throughout the World War II years; she acted as his companion, secretary, librettist, and literary advisor. They married on January 13, 1948 - an act that has puzzled and divided Prokofiev scholars (and fans) ever since. It appears that Lina refused to grant the composer a divorce, and that he availed himself of a 1944 Soviet law that all existing marriages had to be registered with the Census Bureau to be considered valid. The Prokofievs' failure to do this essentially annulled their union (in the USSR at least) and made Prokofiev legally free to marry Mira without the divorce. One chilling fact is undeniable: five weeks after the wedding, the ex-Mrs. Prokofiev was arrested on false charges of espionage and sentenced to 20 years in a labor camp; she would not be released until 1956. This led Russian emigres in the West to speculate that Mira was an agent of Stalin's secret police, assigned to "infiltrate" the independent-minded Prokofiev and keep him in line, and that the authorities pressured them to marry so they could imprison the foreign-born (and therefore suspicious) Lina. Mira's friends dismissed this theory as ludicrous, asserting that she never even joined the Communist Party and was singularly devoted to her husband; by all accounts Prokofiev was shocked by Lina's fate and did what he could to secure her freedom. The impoverished circumstances of the couple's last years together, when Prokofiev was chronically ill and his music was banned under Stalinism, certainly show no signs of official favor towards them. After Prokofiev's death in 1953, Mira catalogued his manuscripts and wrote several articles about him, though Soviet censorship at the time prevented her from mentioning their personal life together. She died at 53, many years before glasnost and the fall of the Soviet Union would have enabled her to tell her side of this still controversial story.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 3 Oct 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 21906369
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Mira Mendelssohn Prokofiev (8 Jan 1915–8 Jun 1968), Find a Grave Memorial no. 21906369, citing Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia ; Maintained by Find A Grave .