Thursday, January 12, 2006

Maria Yudina

Harry Eyres, in the FT Weekend section, 10 Dec, mentioned the story of Maria Yudina and Stalin and the Mozart concerto. I found a reference to the FT piece in Italian.  The story  was mentioned in a TV programme some years ago (Channel 4 or BBC ?). She also said that it at least showed that he had a small spot of goodness in his black soul. She got away with that too.

The only reference I could find to his 'black soul' was christian_comment - accessible in Google's cache (retrieved on 29 May 2005):  
During the darkest time of Stalinism in Russia, at an evening concert, Maria Yudina gave a matchless performance of Mozart's piano concerto. Joseph Stalin demanded that a recording of it be made at once, and it was to be presented to him the next morning. This meant that all involved had to work all through the night. When the record was delivered, Maria Yudina said that she was surprised that Stalin had enough humanity to appreciate such music, and she promised to pray for his black soul every day. When found dying. Stalin had on his record turntable Maria Yudina's recording.
For the idea that the reprise took place in the middle of the night:
An interesting story has it that she once played a Mozart concerto for Soviet radio and on hearing this, Stalin ordered a copy of the performance to be sent to him immediately. Since no one dared to tell Stalin that it was a live broadcast, the pianist and the entire orchestra found themselves brought back to the recording studio at four in the morning.
Several people (from a search for "Maria Yudina") claim that the piano concerto in question was the 23rd. BBC Northern Ireland - again from the cache or try this pdf - Encore For Stalin by Robin Glendinning,  4th August [2005] 14:15 on R4:
Two conductors collapsed in fear before Maria Yudina took to the helm and a record of the Concerto was finally dispatched before daybreak to the Kremlin. In gratitude Stalin sent Yudina a bucket of gold coins. She wrote him a hostile note in response which everyone considered suicidal. A warrant for her arrest was duly prepared but shockingly Stalin could not bring himself to sign it.
My emphasis. The hostile note might have contained the 'black soul' remark. Mikhail Segelman has this:
Yudina received a "material assistance" from Stalin and in return sent him these notes: "I will pray for you day and night to ask God to forgive your terrible sins before people and the country."


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