Composing for the Red Screen: Sergei Prokofiev's Film Music


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Prokofiev composed eight film scores while working in the complicated artistic milieu of Stalinist Russia. These works, from the well-known Aleksander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible to more obscure propaganda shorts, were tremendously influential on subsequent generations of composers. This dissertation uses a host of newly declassified archival materials to explore Prokofiev’s work with film, considering issues of collaboration, technology, aesthetic goals, and—perhaps most importantly—the privileged and hyper-politicized role of film production and composition in Stalin’s Russia. This study fills a significant gap, not only in Prokofiev studies, but also in the larger picture of art in Stalin’s Russia.