For NYC’ers, the music premieres Tuesday night. More: “The music is part of a 1939 composition, which didn’t see the light of day again until 2004, when a facsimile of Prokofiev’s manuscript was published. It’s one of several pieces Yale faculty, alumni and students will perform Tuesday night. Berman says Music for Athletic Exercises was written to be performed on a grand scale.
“There was a project of putting on a huge athletic pageant on the Red Square in Moscow in the summer of 1939, which would involve thousands of athletes from all over the Soviet Union,” he says.
Berman explains that V.E. Meyerhold, a famous Russian director, was hired to stage this extravaganza, but one morning he didn’t show up to work on the piece.
“Nobody could find him,” Berman says. “He was arrested, as was the habit in these years of the Soviet history. He was arrested, imprisoned and subsequently shot to death.”
Traumatic as it was, Prokofiev finished the piece.”