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 Lina Prokofiev

Lina Prokofiev

Birth
Madrid, Provincia de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Death 3 Jan 1989 (aged 91)
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Burial Meudon, Departement des Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 21933742 · View Source
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Singer. The first wife of composer Sergei Prokofiev, and a leading interpreter of his vocal music. She premiered some of his works and the cycle "Five Songs", Op. 36 (1924), to poems by Balmont, was dedicated to her. Lina was born Carolina Codina in Madrid, to a Spanish father and a mother of Polish-French extraction, and raised in Cuba and New York City. Both parents were singers and she was encouraged to pursue that profession, taking the stage name Lina Llubera. She met Prokofiev in Manhattan in 1918, and after a long courtship they married in Ettal, Germany in 1924; they would have two sons, Sviatoslav and Oleg. That same year she made her professional debut as Gilda in "Rigoletto" in Milan. From 1925 to 1940 the couple made extensive concert tours of Europe, the United States, and the Soviet Union, alternating Prokofiev's solo piano recitals with programs in which he accompanied Lina in Russian and French art songs. Both were headstrong people, and their frequently combative relationship started to deteriorate after they settled in Moscow in 1936, a move Lina was understandably reluctant to make. This glamorous and cosmopolitan woman seemed hopelessly out of place in Stalin's USSR, and her career did not flourish there. By 1939 Prokofiev had begun an affair with a young writer, Mira Mendelssohn, and two years later he left Lina for her, while continuing to provide the family with financial support. During World War II she used her fluency in several languages to work as a translator, and was protected from the Soviet secret police by her status as the wife of a world-famous composer. That protection suddenly vanished in January 1948, when Prokofiev married Mira - 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. This left the foreign-born Lina vulnerable to the xenophobic Communist authorities, particularly because she made frequent visits to the French Embassy in Moscow to send money to her mother in Paris. Just five weeks later, on February 20, 1948, Lina was arrested on false charges of espionage and sentenced to 20 years in a Siberian labor camp. She would not be released until 1956, when millions of Stalin's innocent victims were granted a general amnesty. By then Prokofiev was dead. After repeated requests Lina was finally allowed to leave the Soviet Union in 1974. Reclaiming her Spanish citizenship, she divided her time between London and Paris and had a comfortable income from the international rights to Prokofiev's music. (Lina was still recognized as his legal widow outside the USSR; Mira had died in 1968). She organized the Sergei Prokofiev Foundation in 1983. Feisty as ever, she claimed she wanted to write a memoir of her husband but rebuffed everyone who attempted to help her with the project; in the end nothing publishable was produced. In 1986, at 88, Lina made her only known recording, as the narrator of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" with the Scottish National Orchestra under Neemi Jarvi. At her request she was buried beside the composer's mother in Meudon, near Paris.

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 21933742
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lina Prokofiev (21 Oct 1897–3 Jan 1989), Find A Grave Memorial no. 21933742, citing Cimetière de Meudon, Meudon, Departement des Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .