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Did Sergei Prokofiev Die?

Well, yes, of course, in terms of how many of us define death. But Prokofiev was a follower of the teachings of Christian Science for much of his life, and even wrote journal entries about colds and headaches that were healed by religious practices. He did also write entries grappling with some of the philosophical and theological underpinnings of Christian Science.

Christian Science, or as it is also known today, The Church of Jesus Christ, Scientist, is a New Religious Movement (“new” is a relative term, as it dates to the 19th century) founded by Mary Baker Eddy after her experiences combining mesmerism with Christian prayer practices. She believed she was healed from her sicknesses by reading the Christian Gospels.

Prokofiev’s opera Romeo and Juliet initially had the main characters not dying, but in fact leaving their physical bodies. At least until the authorities in Russia had him change the ending. The concept of suffering and and ultimately the idea of death are both rooted in spiritual separation from the divine and a concept called “material-mindedness” in the theology of Christian Science. Prokofiev’s diaries through 1933, published in a single edition in 2012, include a great deal of detail about his own suffering, his religious beliefs and thoughts, and his (mostly negative) opinions of his contemporaries.

Prokofiev, the famed composer and thorough diarist, died (ended his suffering) in 1953.


Prokofiev, Sergei.“This Is Demonstrably Absurd.” Diaries of Note, March 14, 2023. Reprinted with permission.

Savkina, Natalia, Maria McMinn, and Rita McAllister. “Yea, Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death . . .” In Rethinking Prokofiev. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

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