The Corner

A Boy and His Grandpa Joe

Yevgeny Dzhugashvili has died. Recognize the name? The last name? It was Stalin’s name, his original name, before he christened himself “Stalin” (which connotes a man of steel). Yevgeny was a grandson of Stalin’s. I touch on him in my 2015 book, Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators.

And I have a little article about him on the homepage, here.

He was a raging Stalinist, Yevgeny was. Stalin treated his father abominably. He treated most of his family abominably (and most everyone else). But, man, do they worship him.

How about other people? Do they worship him, or think well of him? In 2008, Stalin finished third in a Greatest Russian contest — which, as I say in my article, “is not bad for a Georgian who spoke Russian with a heavy accent.” I will quote some more.

There was a nationwide poll, in which more than 5 million people participated. In the early stages of the poll, Stalin was in first place. But he wound up losing out by about 5,000 votes — to Alexander Nevsky, the medieval warrior-prince. In second place was Pytor Stolypin, the reformist prime minister who was assassinated in 1911. Pushkin came in fourth behind Stalin.

Critics said that the results were rigged. Rigged, I tell you! They were rigged to keep Stalin out of first place. I’m inclined to believe this.

And I bet Yevgeny Dzhugashvili believed it 100 percent.

Still kind of amazing that Pushkin finished behind Stalin. As for the first-place winner: I am put in mind of Prokofiev’s score for the Eisenstein film (1938) and of the cantata he fashioned out of it: the Alexander Nevsky cantata. Want to hear it?

I thought you’d never ask. Here is an early recording — 1945 — from Ormandy and the Philadelphia with Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano.

On the subject of music, before I get out of here: My latest post at The New Criterion is about the new piano concerto by HK Gruber, here. Gruber’s most famous work is Frankenstein!! I admire a person bold enough to use two exclamation points in a title.

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