On Music: thievery part ii

David K. Israel

I thought I'd continue the theme of last week's On Music post, today focusing on a rather direct lift, which results in more of an homage than anything like Bernstein's nod to Beethoven from the last post.

In 1927, author Yury Tynyanov wrote a novella called Lieutenant Kijé, which was eventually turned into a film in the 1930s by the not-so-well-known director Aleksandr Fajntsimmer. (And I do believe that's the first time in my life I've seen the letter J followed by an N.)

Russian composer Prokofiev, who you might recall from Valentine's Day, wrote a score for the film. Later he went on to extract a suite from the score, which, unlike the book, or the film, is quite well known. You can listen to an excerpt here.

Fast-forward to the 1980s, the Cold War not quite yet thawed, and Sting decides to lift it note-for-note and plop it into his (now-embarrassing-I'm-sure) song called "Russians." Pretty subtle, right?

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