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Sergei Prokofiev

(1891 - 1953)

Sergei Prokofiev entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1904.

By that time he had already written a great deal of music.
At the Conservatory he shocked the more conservative director, Glazunov, but learned much from an older fellow-student, the composer Myaskovsky.

After the Revolution he was given permission to travel abroad and he remained intermittently out of Russia, in America and then in Paris, until his final return to Russia in 1936.

At home he found himself out of favor with the authorities and in 1948 the subject of particular and direct censure.
His death in 1953, on the same day as Stalin, deprived him of the enjoyment of the subsequent relaxation in musical censorship that then took place.
In style Prokofiev is ironic, writing in a musical language that is often acerbic.

Stage Works
Prokofiev first attempted to write an opera at the age of nine.
When he was older one of the operas that was included was The Love for Three Oranges, written in 1919 for Chicago.
The Fiery Angel and War and Peace was the last based on Tolstoy's novel.
An early ballet score for Dyagilev proved unacceptable, but later ballets, once rejected as undanceable, include Romeo and Juliet, and in 1944 Cinderella.

Both ballets as well as the first mentioned opera are known to concert audiences from orchestral suites based on them by the composer.
Film scores by Prokofiev include Alexander Nevsky, written for Eisenstein's film of that name, and music for the same director's Ivan the Terrible.
Music for the film Lieutenant Kije, a fictional character, was written in 1933.

Orchestral Music;
Prokofiev wrote seven symphonies.
Of these the Classical Symphony, a work written in 1916/17 with the work of Haydn in mind, is the best known.
The Fifth Symphony of 1944 is a work on a much larger scale.
Of the five piano concertos Prokofiev's has written, the third is best known.
More overtly romantic in feeling are the two fine violin concertos.
His early Cello Concerto was followed in 1952, fourteen years later, by a Cello Concertino, completed by the cellist Rostropovich and the composer Kabalevsky after Prokofiev's death.

Choral and Vocal Music
In addition to a wide variety of choral and vocal music, which includes a concert version of the film score for Alexander Nevsky, Prokofiev wrote a number of less famous works for various occasions of political importance.

Chamber Music
Chamber music by Prokofiev includes two sonatas for violin and piano.
The second sonata was originally written for flute and piano and revised by the composer, with the help of the violinist David Oistrakh.
He completed his C major Cello Sonata in 1949 but a second sonata for the instrument was left unfinished at the time of his death.
The Five Melodies for violin and piano, based on earlier songs, are also in general repertoire.

Piano Music
Prokofiev completed nine piano sonatas out of a projected eleven.
His music for piano also includes piano versions of music from the ballets Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella.

Music for Children
One of the most known of all Prokofiev's compositions is his tale for children Peter and the Wolf, for narrator and orchestra.
This is a simple work to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra, by letting instruments or groups of instruments representing characters in the story.



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