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Original Music to the Movie “Ivan the Terrible” Receives World Premiere


The world premiere of Sergei Prokofiev’s original music to the film “Ivan the Terrible” will take place on 16 September 2016 at the Musikfest Berlin in the Konzerthaus (Gendarmenmarkt). This will be a co-production between ZDF/ARTE, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the European Film Philharmonic, Hans Sikorski International Music Publishers and Deutschlandradio Kultur.

The reconstruction by the conductor Frank Strobel will be presented live, simultaneously with the extensively restored film, by Marina Prudenskaya (alto), Alexander Vinogradov (bass), three children’s voices, the Berlin Radio Choir and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the musical direction of Frank Strobel.

Sergei Prokofiev’s film scores to “Alexander Newsky” and “Ivan the Terrible” are stylistically very closely related. Both soundtracks include a series of Russian national folkloristic characteristics as well as a certain influence from the romantic models Mikhail Glinka and Modest Mussorgsky. Prokofiev’s music for the Eisenstein film “Ivan Grosny” (as it is known in Russian), made during the war years 1943 to 1945, is powerful and epic in its scope. A lyrical thematic design typical of Prokofiev is amalgamated here with subtly refined, psychological musical portraits of the film characters together with folkloristic songs. “Ivan the Terrible” includes gruff, militaristic songs for the war scenes and full-sounding choruses for religious ceremonies as well as intimate, highly personal solos. Wedding songs and lullabies, fanfares and dances illustrating the courtly world permeate Prokofiev’s score.

The film is concerned with the life of the Grand Prince Ivan IV, who lived from 1530 to 1584 and was given his epithet “the Terrible” due to his uncompromising politics and his cruelty. Ivan Grosny asserted himself against the mighty Boyars and Tatars in the east and the south. He was the first Grand Prince of Moscow who was crowned tsar. Russia was able to considerably expand its territory under his reign. The (unsuccessful) Livlandic War and the campaigns of conquest in Siberia occurred during the period of his reign.

As a result of his frequently violent outbursts, he killed his first wife and possibly also the second by poisoning, and even his son and heir to the throne Ivan, later saying about himself: “From Adam up to this day I have surpassed all sinners. I have besmirched my soul in a most beastly and depraved way.”

Although Sergei Eisenstein was awarded the Stalin Prize First Class for the first part of the film, which tells of the rise of the first Russian tsar, the second part of the film (Ivan’s development into a despot) was censured and only publicly shown in 1958, ten years after Eisenstein’s death, as part of the de-Stalinisation taking place at that time.

The station ARTE will broadcast the concert on 31 October 2016 at 10:00 PM.

16 September 2016
Konzerthaus, Great Hall, 6:30 PM
(Introduction to the concert with Steffen Georgi, 5:15 PM)
World premiere: Sergei Prokofiev / Frank Strobel
Original music to the film “Ivan the Terrible”
Presentation of the reconstruction film with live orchestra
Marina Prudenskaya (alto)
Alexander Vinogradov (bass)
Three children’s voices
Berlin Radio Choir
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Frank Strobel (direction)


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