Back in 1971 when OTR was in the throes of grad school, he was in love with Marti. She was the most beautiful Marxist he knew and one who enjoyed film and fine music. Marti introduced him to the films of Sergei Eisenstein and their more revolutionary musical scores by Sergei Prokofiev , but their love of music took them beyond the silver screen. Together, they would enjoy many National Symphony Orchestra concerts at the Kennedy Center dressed in their revolutionary blue jeans and Pendleton shirts and seated in Orchestra Center, Row Three. They went so often, the young concertmaster (Miran Kojian) began to greet them when the orchestra was seated. And yes, they were making a statement. After all, the contradictions were not confined to the concert hall. They were everywhere in the tumultuous American experience of 1971, but that discussion is for another time.
What brings these memories to the fore is a spectacular performance of Prokofiev's
cantata arranged from his score for the 1938 Eisenstein film, Alexander Nevsky. This vivid, complex, and patriotic music (about 35 minutes in length) is available for the next four days on BBC's Radio 3 high-definition Internet link. The concert is part of the Proms 21 music festival and features Andris Nelsons, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and soloist, Nadezhda Serdiuk. A note about the radio link: nothing short of superb. Even readers who don't care for the classics should make note of BBC Radio 3 as it features a wide variety of first-rate music and sound.
A concluding note: Though my Russian film maker and his composer stayed with me, Marti did not. After a year or so, she transferred to UNC Chapel Hill and eventually rekindled a relationship with a professor there. We parted on the best of terms, but it was tough to say good-bye and after some phone calls and letters, she was a memory. I imagine her beauty in both looks and personality are still with her. I would hope that her political philosophy eventually mellowed toward sanity as did that of the student who loved her so many years ago.
Photo: Still from Alexander Nevsky