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Luke Myers

Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev was born in 1891 in what is now known as the Ukraine, and he grew up to be a
20th century Soviet composer, pianist, and conductor who composed many scores for ballets
and operas. Being inspired by his mother who was also an avid musician, he wrote his first
piano composition when he was only five years old. He was considered to be a child prodigy.
Because his musical genius was recognized at a young age, he went on to study early at the
Petersburg Conservatory from ages 13 to 23. Younger than his peers, he annoyed his
classmates with his seeming arrogance (he kept a record of their mistakes), but he impressed
his teachers. While at the Conservatory he gained a reputation for being a “musical rebel” even
though he received praise for his original works. He was 17 years old when he first publicly
performed with his original work, “Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major” which made him very
well known in Russia. Although his fame was growing nationally, he left Russia and went to the
United States and France, realizing he could not make a living in Russia with WWI and the
revolution going on. He continued to compose many works during his time abroad, including
the opera, “The Love for Three Oranges”, and the ballet, “The Prodigal Son”. In 1936, he finally
returned to Russia, settling down in Moscow. There he composed likely his most famous work,
“Peter and the Wolf”, a symphony for children. When Germany invaded Russia during WWII, he
was forced to leave his home in Moscow which led him to compose his famous opera, “War and
Peace”, based on the novel by Tolstoy.

Significance
By 1945 he was so highly regarded that he was considered to be the best musician of the
Soviet Union. Even today, he is largely regarded as one of the most brilliant musicians of his
time, able to compose both beautiful works within the traditional constraints of his Russian
training, and creative new works outside of his traditions. In all, he composed seven operas,
seven symphonies, eight ballets, five piano concertos, two violin concertos, a cello concerto,
and piano sonatas. His music is played in the US more than any other composer of the last 100
years except for Richard Strauss.

Georgy Malenkov
Georgy Malenkov was a Soviet politician who worked closely with Joseph Stalin, and
succeeded him as a major authority of the USSR from March of 1953 to February of 1955.
Malenkov joined the Communist Party in the early 1920’s and began to rise to higher power as
a political leader, and by 1930 he was made the head of the organizational department for the
Communist party in Moscow. A few years later he took part in finding, interrogating,
incarcerating, and killing people who his party believed were guilty of “espionage, wrecking,
sabotage, anti-Soviet agitation, conspiracies to prepare uprisings and coups”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge) which were potential threats to the Communist party.
During WWII he became Lieutenant General of the Red Army, and grew to be the second
highest authority in the Soviet Union. On March 5th of 1953, Joseph Stalin died of a stroke, and
Georgy Malenkov took charge of the USSR for two years. For his time in charge, he made
many decisions that pleased the people, but a man named Nikita Khrushchev eventually
overpowered Malenkov. Malenkov was ultimately expelled from the party and exiled to a remote
part of Kazakhstan in 1957. There he lived a quiet life and later converted to Orthodoxy. He
died in Moscow in 1988.

Significance:
Georgy Malenkov was highly involved in Stalin’s purges of the Communist party. In these
purges, Stalin killed and/or revoked the privileges over 10% of the party’s members, and over
219,000 members left the Communist party willingly or forcibly. Malenkov worked multiple
positions for the Soviet Union throughout his career, such as head of the Soviet missile program
during WWII, Deputy prime minister, member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist
Party, and Prime Minister of the Soviet Union. Malenkov made many decisions that affected the
people of Russia, both for good and evil. While he imprisoned and killed under Stalin’s reign, he
also, once he took power, helped his economy grow and made his people mostly happy with his
leadership.

Roy Campanella
Roy “Campy” Campanella was an American baseball player who was born in 1921 in
Philadelphia. He was the son of a Sicilian father and an African-American mother. When he
was 15 years old he dropped out of high school to play with the Baltimore Elite Giants, a team in
the Negro National League. There he studied catching under Biz Mackey, a Hall of Famer.
Campanella later credited Mackey with teaching him all that he knew about catching. Because
his mother was African-American, he was prohibited from playing in the major leagues until
1947, when he and his contemporary, Jackie Robinson, broke the color barrier in baseball. He
then played catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers until the 1950s. When he retired from playing
because of being paralyzed from an automobile accident that snapped his neck, he worked as a
scout for the Dodgers. He died of a heart failure in 1993 at age 71.

Significance
He is widely believed to be one of the best catchers in the history baseball. He is the first
African-American catcher in MLB history. He was awarded the National League Most Valuable
Player Award 3 times, once in 1951, and twice more in 1953 and 1955. He was inducted into
the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. The main reason for his Most Valuable Player award in
1953 was because he won the record for RBI by a catcher (142), and his record is still
unbroken.
The Communist/Eastern Bloc
The Communist bloc, also known as the Eastern bloc, refers to the communist countries of the
Soviet Union, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and for a
short period, Albania and Yugoslavia. These countries were taken over by the Soviet Union
during and after WWII, and were left communist until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989.
Communism is a more extreme form of socialism which developed in reaction to problems
introduced from industrialism in the 19th century. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, both German,
criticized advanced industrialism because it took advantage of factory workers and treated them
unfairly, so they proposed an alternative system called Communism. Communism was a
theoretical community system in which all involved would work equally and responsibly for the
benefits of all in the party. Communism was finally implemented in 1917 when the Russian
Revolution overthrew the Tsar and formed a Communist government. Russia became known
as the USSR after annexing other Eastern European countries during and after WWII.

Significance
The world became polarized between free democratic countries (US and Western Europe), and
Communist countries of the USSR and China, which became Communist in the 1949. Their
ideals were nearly the opposite of the West which had economic prosperity due to their free
economic system. Beyond that, the Communists persecuted religious groups and taught
atheism which went against the religious liberties and freedom of the US. Although there was
no official war, the US and USSR were threatened by each other and built an enormous amount
of nuclear weapons to defend themselves in case of an attack from the other. This was called
the Cold War, and was caused due to the expansion of Communism/Communist Bloc.