Sergei Prokofiev

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"Prokofiev" redirects here. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_0

For other uses, see Prokofiev (disambiguation). Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_1

In this Eastern Slavic name, the patronymic is Sergeyevich and the family name is Prokofiev. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_2

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (/prəˈkɒfiɛf, proʊ-, -ˈkɔː-, -ˈkoʊ-, -jɛf, -jɛv, -iəf/; Russian: Серге́й Серге́евич Проко́фьев, tr. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_3

Sergej Sergejevič Prokofjev; 27 April [O.S. 15 April] 1891 – 5 March 1953) was a Russian Soviet composer, pianist and conductor. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_4

As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous music genres, he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_5

His works include such widely heard pieces as the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet—from which "Dance of the Knights" is taken—and Peter and the Wolf. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_6

Of the established forms and genres in which he worked, he created – excluding juvenilia – seven completed operas, seven symphonies, eight ballets, five piano concertos, two violin concertos, a cello concerto, a symphony-concerto for cello and orchestra, and nine completed piano sonatas. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_7

A graduate of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Prokofiev initially made his name as an iconoclastic composer-pianist, achieving notoriety with a series of ferociously dissonant and virtuosic works for his instrument, including his first two piano concertos. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_8

In 1915, Prokofiev made a decisive break from the standard composer-pianist category with his orchestral Scythian Suite, compiled from music originally composed for a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_9

Diaghilev commissioned three further ballets from Prokofiev—Chout, Le pas d'acier and The Prodigal Son—which, at the time of their original production, all caused a sensation among both critics and colleagues. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_10

Prokofiev's greatest interest, however, was opera, and he composed several works in that genre, including The Gambler and The Fiery Angel. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_11

Prokofiev's one operatic success during his lifetime was The Love for Three Oranges, composed for the Chicago Opera and subsequently performed over the following decade in Europe and Russia. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_12

After the Revolution of 1917, Prokofiev left Russia with the official blessing of the Soviet minister Anatoly Lunacharsky, and resided in the United States, then Germany, then Paris, making his living as a composer, pianist and conductor. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_13

During that time, he married a Spanish singer, Carolina (Lina) Codina, with whom he had two sons. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_14

In the early 1930s, the Great Depression diminished opportunities for Prokofiev's ballets and operas to be staged in America and western Europe. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_15

Prokofiev, who regarded himself as composer foremost, resented the time taken by touring as a pianist, and increasingly turned to the Soviet Union for commissions of new music; in 1936, he finally returned to his homeland with his family. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_16

He enjoyed some success there – notably with Lieutenant Kijé, Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps above all with Alexander Nevsky. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_17

The Nazi invasion of the USSR spurred him to compose his most ambitious work, an operatic version of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_18

In 1948, Prokofiev was attacked for producing "anti-democratic formalism." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_19

Nevertheless, he enjoyed personal and artistic support from a new generation of Russian performers, notably Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich: he wrote his ninth piano sonata for the former and his Symphony-Concerto for the latter. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_20

Biography Sergei Prokofiev_section_0

Childhood and first compositions Sergei Prokofiev_section_1

Prokofiev was born in 1891 in Sontsovka (now Sontsivka, Pokrovsk Raion, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine), a remote rural estate in the Bakhmutsky Uyezd of the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_21

His father, Sergei Alexeyevich Prokofiev, was an agronomist. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_22

Prokofiev's mother, Maria (née Zhitkova), came from a family of former serfs who had been owned by the Sheremetev family, under whose patronage serf-children were taught theatre and arts from an early age. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_23

She was described by Reinhold Glière (Prokofiev's first composition teacher) as "a tall woman with beautiful, clever eyes … who knew how to create an atmosphere of warmth and simplicity about her." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_24

After their wedding in the summer of 1877, the Prokofievs moved to a small estate in the Smolensk governorate. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_25

Eventually, Sergei Alexeyevich found employment as a soil engineer, employed by one of his former fellow-students, Dmitri Sontsov, to whose estate in the Ukrainian steppes the Prokofievs moved. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_26

By the time of Prokofiev's birth, Maria—having previously lost two daughters—had devoted her life to music; during her son's early childhood, she spent two months a year in Moscow or St Petersburg taking piano lessons. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_27

Sergei Prokofiev was inspired by hearing his mother practising the piano in the evenings, mostly works by Chopin and Beethoven, and wrote his first piano composition at the age of five, an "Indian Gallop", which was written down by his mother: it was in the F Lydian mode (a major scale with a raised 4th scale degree), as the young Prokofiev felt "reluctance to tackle the black notes". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_28

By seven, he had also learned to play chess. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_29

Chess would remain a passion of his, and he became acquainted with world chess champions José Raúl Capablanca, whom he beat in a simultaneous exhibition match in 1914, and Mikhail Botvinnik, with whom he played several matches in the 1930s. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_30

At the age of nine, he was composing his first opera, The Giant, as well as an overture and various other pieces. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_31

Formal education and controversial early works Sergei Prokofiev_section_2

In 1902, Prokofiev's mother met Sergei Taneyev, director of the Moscow Conservatory, who initially suggested that Prokofiev should start lessons in piano and composition with Alexander Goldenweiser. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_32

Unable to arrange that, Taneyev instead arranged for composer and pianist Reinhold Glière to spend the summer of 1902 in Sontsovka teaching Prokofiev. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_33

The first series of lessons culminated, at the 11-year-old Prokofiev's insistence, with the budding composer making his first attempt to write a symphony. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_34

The following summer, Glière revisited Sontsovka to give further tuition. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_35

When, decades later, Prokofiev wrote about his lessons with Glière, he gave due credit to his teacher's sympathetic method but complained that Glière had introduced him to "square" phrase structure and conventional modulations, which he subsequently had to unlearn. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_36

Nonetheless, equipped with the necessary theoretical tools, Prokofiev started experimenting with dissonant harmonies and unusual time signatures in a series of short piano pieces he called "ditties" (after the so-called "song form", more accurately ternary form, on which they were based), laying the basis for his own musical style. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_37

Despite his growing talent, Prokofiev's parents hesitated over starting their son on a musical career at such an early age, and considered the possibility of his attending a good high school in Moscow. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_38

By 1904, his mother had decided instead on Saint Petersburg, and she and Prokofiev visited the then capital to explore the possibility of moving there for his education. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_39

They were introduced to composer Alexander Glazunov, a professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, who asked to see Prokofiev and his music; Prokofiev had composed two more operas, Desert Islands and The Feast during the Plague, and was working on his fourth, Undina. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_40

Glazunov was so impressed that he urged Prokofiev's mother to have her son apply for admission to the Conservatory. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_41

He passed the introductory tests and enrolled that year. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_42

Several years younger than most of his class, Prokofiev was viewed as eccentric and arrogant, and annoyed a number of his classmates by keeping statistics on their errors. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_43

During that period, he studied under, among others, Alexander Winkler for piano, Anatoly Lyadov for harmony and counterpoint, Nikolai Tcherepnin for conducting, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for orchestration (though when Rimsky-Korsakov died in 1908, Prokofiev noted that he had only studied with him "after a fashion"—he was just one of many students in a heavily attended class—and regretted that he otherwise "never had the opportunity to study with him"). Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_44

He also shared classes with the composers Boris Asafyev and Nikolai Myaskovsky, the latter becoming a relatively close and lifelong friend. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_45

As a member of the Saint Petersburg music scene, Prokofiev developed a reputation as a musical rebel, while getting praise for his original compositions, which he performed himself on the piano. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_46

In 1909, he graduated from his class in composition with unimpressive marks. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_47

He continued at the Conservatory, studying piano under Anna Yesipova and continuing his conducting lessons under Tcherepnin. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_48

In 1910, Prokofiev's father died and Sergei's financial support ceased. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_49

Fortunately, he had started making a name for himself as a composer and pianist outside the Conservatory, making appearances at the St Petersburg Evenings of Contemporary Music. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_50

There he performed several of his more adventurous piano works, such as his highly chromatic and dissonant Etudes, Op. 2 (1909). Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_51

His performance of it impressed the organisers of the Evenings sufficiently for them to invite Prokofiev to give the Russian premiere of Arnold Schoenberg's Drei Klavierstücke, Op. 11. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_52

Prokofiev's harmonic experimentation continued with Sarcasms for piano, Op. 17 (1912), which makes extensive use of polytonality. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_53

He composed his first two piano concertos around then, the latter of which caused a scandal at its premiere (23 August 1913, Pavlovsk). Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_54

According to one account, the audience left the hall with exclamations of "'To hell with this futuristic music! Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_55

The cats on the roof make better music! Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_56

'", but the modernists were in rapture. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_57

In 1911, help arrived from renowned Russian musicologist and critic Alexander Ossovsky, who wrote a supportive letter to music publisher Boris P. Jurgenson (son of publishing-firm founder Peter Jurgenson [1836–1904]); thus a contract was offered to the composer. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_58

Prokofiev made his first foreign trip in 1913, travelling to Paris and London where he first encountered Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_59

First ballets Sergei Prokofiev_section_3

In 1914, Prokofiev finished his career at the Conservatory by entering the 'battle of the pianos', a competition open to the five best piano students for which the prize was a Schroeder grand piano: Prokofiev won by performing his own Piano Concerto No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_60 1. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_61

Soon afterwards, he journeyed to London where he made contact with the impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_62

Diaghilev commissioned Prokofiev's first ballet, Ala and Lolli; but when Prokofiev brought the work in progress to him in Italy in 1915 he rejected it as "non-Russian". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_63

Urging Prokofiev to write "music that was national in character", Diaghilev then commissioned the ballet Chout ("The Buffoon"). Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_64

(The original Russian-language full title was Сказка про шута, семерых шутов перешутившего, meaning "The Tale of the Buffoon who Outwits Seven Other Buffoons".) Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_65

Under Diaghilev's guidance, Prokofiev chose his subject from a collection of folk tales by the ethnographer Alexander Afanasyev; the story, concerning a buffoon and a series of confidence tricks, had been previously suggested to Diaghilev by Igor Stravinsky as a possible subject for a ballet, and Diaghilev and his choreographer Léonide Massine helped Prokofiev to shape it into a ballet scenario. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_66

Prokofiev's inexperience with ballet led him to revise the work extensively in the 1920s, following Diaghilev's detailed critique, prior to its first production. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_67

The ballet's premiere in Paris on 17 May 1921 was a huge success and was greeted with great admiration by an audience that included Jean Cocteau, Igor Stravinsky and Maurice Ravel. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_68

Stravinsky called the ballet "the single piece of modern music he could listen to with pleasure," while Ravel called it "a work of genius." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_69

First World War and Revolution Sergei Prokofiev_section_4

During World War I, Prokofiev returned to the Conservatory and studied organ to avoid conscription. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_70

He composed The Gambler based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel of the same name, but rehearsals were plagued by problems, and the scheduled 1917 première had to be cancelled because of the February Revolution. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_71

In the summer of that year, Prokofiev composed his first symphony, the Classical. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_72

The name was Prokofiev's own; the music is in a style that, according to Prokofiev, Joseph Haydn would have used if he were alive at the time. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_73

The music is more or less Classical in style but incorporates more modern musical elements (see Neoclassicism). Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_74

The symphony was also an exact contemporary of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_75 1 in D major, Op. 19, which was scheduled to premiere in November 1917. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_76

The first performances of both works had to wait until 21 April 1918 and 18 October 1923, respectively. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_77

Prokofiev stayed briefly with his mother in Kislovodsk in the Caucasus. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_78

After completing the score of Seven, They Are Seven, a "Chaldean invocation" for chorus and orchestra, Prokofiev was "left with nothing to do and time hung heavily on my hands". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_79

Believing that Russia "had no use for music at the moment", Prokofiev decided to try his fortunes in America until the turmoil in his homeland had passed. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_80

He set out for Moscow and Petersburg in March 1918 to sort out financial matters and to arrange for his passport. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_81

In May, he headed for the US, having obtained official permission to do so from Anatoly Lunacharsky, the People's Commissar for Education, who told him: "You are a revolutionary in music, we are revolutionaries in life. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_82

We ought to work together. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_83

But if you want to go to America I shall not stand in your way." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_84

Life abroad Sergei Prokofiev_section_5

Arriving in San Francisco after having been released from questioning by immigration officials on Angel Island on 11 August 1918, Prokofiev was soon compared to other famous Russian exiles, such as Sergei Rachmaninoff. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_85

His debut solo concert in New York led to several further engagements. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_86

He also received a contract from the music director of the Chicago Opera Association, Cleofonte Campanini, for the production of his new opera The Love for Three Oranges; however, due to Campanini's illness and death, the premiere was postponed. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_87

The delay was another example of Prokofiev's bad luck in operatic matters. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_88

The failure also cost him his American solo career since the opera took too much time and effort. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_89

He soon found himself in financial difficulties, and in April 1920, he left for Paris, not wanting to return to Russia as a failure. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_90

In Paris, Prokofiev reaffirmed his contacts with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_91

He also completed some of his older, unfinished works, such as his Third Piano Concerto. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_92

The Love for Three Oranges finally premièred in Chicago, under the composer's baton, on 30 December 1921. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_93

Diaghilev became sufficiently interested in the opera to request Prokofiev play the vocal score to him in June 1922, while they were both in Paris for a revival of Chout, so he could consider it for a possible production. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_94

Stravinsky, who was present at the audition, refused to listen to more than the first act. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_95

When he then accused Prokofiev of "wasting time composing operas", Prokofiev retorted that Stravinsky "was in no position to lay down a general artistic direction, since he is himself not immune to error". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_96

According to Prokofiev, Stravinsky "became incandescent with rage" and "we almost came to blows and were separated only with difficulty". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_97

As a result, "our relations became strained and for several years Stravinsky's attitude toward me was critical." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_98

In March 1922, Prokofiev moved with his mother to the town of Ettal in the Bavarian Alps, where for over a year he concentrated on an opera project, The Fiery Angel, based on the novel by Valery Bryusov. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_99

His later music had acquired a following in Russia, and he received invitations to return there, but decided to stay in Europe. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_100

In 1923, Prokofiev married the Spanish singer Carolina Codina (1897–1989, stage name Lina Llubera) before moving back to Paris. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_101

In Paris, several of his works, including the Second Symphony, were performed, but their reception was lukewarm and Prokofiev sensed that he "was evidently no longer a sensation". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_102

Still, the Symphony appeared to prompt Diaghilev to commission Le pas d'acier (The Steel Step), a "modernist" ballet score intended to portray the industrialisation of the Soviet Union. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_103

It was enthusiastically received by Parisian audiences and critics. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_104

Around 1924, Prokofiev was introduced to Christian Science. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_105

He began to practice its teachings, which he believed to be beneficial to his health and to his fiery temperament and to which he remained faithful for the rest of his life, according to biographer Simon Morrison. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_106

Prokofiev and Stravinsky restored their friendship, though Prokofiev particularly disliked Stravinsky's "stylization of Bach" in such recent works as the Octet and the Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_107

For his part, Stravinsky described Prokofiev as the greatest Russian composer of his day, after himself. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_108

First visits to the Soviet Union Sergei Prokofiev_section_6

In 1927, Prokofiev made his first concert tour in the Soviet Union. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_109

Over the course of more than two months, he spent time in Moscow and Leningrad (as St Petersburg had been renamed), where he enjoyed a very successful staging of The Love for Three Oranges in the Mariinsky Theatre. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_110

In 1928, Prokofiev completed his Third Symphony, which was broadly based on his unperformed opera The Fiery Angel. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_111

The conductor Serge Koussevitzky characterized the Third as "the greatest symphony since Tchaikovsky's Sixth." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_112

In the meantime, however, Prokofiev, under the influence of the teachings of Christian Science, had turned against the expressionist style and the subject matter of The Fiery Angel. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_113

He now preferred what he called a "new simplicity", which he believed more sincere than the "contrivances and complexities" of so much modern music of the 1920s. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_114

During 1928–29, Prokofiev composed what was to be his last ballet for Diaghilev, The Prodigal Son. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_115

When first staged in Paris on 21 May 1929, choreographed by George Balanchine with Serge Lifar in the title role, the audience and critics were particularly struck by the final scene in which the prodigal son drags himself across the stage on his knees to be welcomed by his father. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_116

Diaghilev had recognised that in the music to the scene, Prokofiev had "never been more clear, more simple, more melodious, and more tender". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_117

Only months later, Diaghilev died. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_118

That summer, Prokofiev completed the Divertimento, Op. 43 (which he had started in 1925) and revised his Sinfonietta, Op. 5/48, a work started in his days at the Conservatory. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_119

In October of that year, he had a car crash while driving his family back to Paris from their holiday: as the car turned over, Prokofiev pulled some muscles on his left hand. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_120

Prokofiev was therefore unable to perform in Moscow during his tour shortly after the accident, but he was able to enjoy watching performances of his music from the audience. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_121

Prokofiev also attended the Bolshoi Theatre's "audition" of his ballet Le pas d'acier, and was interrogated by members of the Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians (RAPM) about the work: he was asked whether the factory portrayed "a capitalist factory, where the worker is a slave, or a Soviet factory, where the worker is the master? Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_122

If it is a Soviet factory, when and where did Prokofiev examine it, since from 1918 to the present he has been living abroad and came here for the first time in 1927 for two weeks [sic]?" Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_123

Prokofiev replied, "That concerns politics, not music, and therefore I won't answer." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_124

The RAPM condemned the ballet as a "flat and vulgar anti-Soviet anecdote, a counter-revolutionary composition bordering on Fascism". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_125

The Bolshoi had no option but to reject the ballet. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_126

With his left hand healed, Prokofiev toured the United States successfully at the start of 1930, propped up by his recent European success. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_127

That year, Prokofiev began his first non-Diaghilev ballet On the Dnieper, Op. 51, a work commissioned by Serge Lifar, who had been appointed maitre de ballet at the Paris Opéra. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_128

In 1931 and 1932, he completed his fourth and fifth piano concertos. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_129

The following year saw the completion of the Symphonic Song, Op. 57, which Prokofiev's friend Myaskovsky—thinking of its potential audience in the Soviet Union—told him "isn't quite for us… it lacks that which we mean by monumentalism—a familiar simplicity and broad contours, of which you are extremely capable, but temporarily are carefully avoiding." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_130

By the early 1930s, both Europe and America were suffering from the Great Depression, which inhibited both new opera and ballet productions, though audiences for Prokofiev's appearances as a pianist were, in Europe at least, undiminished. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_131

However, Prokofiev, who saw himself as a composer first and foremost, increasingly resented the amount of time that was lost to composition through his appearances as a pianist. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_132

Having been homesick for some time, Prokofiev began to build substantial bridges with the Soviet Union. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_133

Following the dissolution of the RAPM in 1932, he acted increasingly as a musical ambassador between his homeland and western Europe, and his premieres and commissions were increasingly under the auspices of the Soviet Union. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_134

One such was Lieutenant Kijé, which was commissioned as the score to a Soviet film. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_135

Another commission, from the Kirov Theatre (as the Mariinsky had now been renamed) in Leningrad, was the ballet Romeo and Juliet, composed to a scenario created by Adrian Piotrovsky and Sergei Radlov following the precepts of "drambalet" (dramatised ballet, officially promoted at the Kirov to replace works based primarily on choreographic display and innovation). Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_136

Following Radlov's acrimonious resignation from the Kirov in June 1934, a new agreement was signed with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow on the understanding that Piotrovsky would remain involved. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_137

However, the ballet's original happy ending (contrary to Shakespeare) provoked controversy among Soviet cultural officials; the ballet's production was then postponed indefinitely when the staff of the Bolshoi was overhauled at the behest of the chairman of the Committee on Arts Affairs, Platon Kerzhentsev. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_138

Nikolai Myaskovsky, one of his closest friends, mentioned in a number of letters how he would like Prokofiev to stay in Russia. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_139

Return to Russia Sergei Prokofiev_section_7

In 1936, Prokofiev and his family settled permanently in Moscow, after shifting back and forth between Moscow and Paris for the previous four years. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_140

That year, he composed one of his most famous works, Peter and the Wolf, for Natalya Sats' Central Children's Theatre. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_141

Sats also persuaded Prokofiev to write two songs for children, "Sweet Song", and "Chatterbox"; they were eventually joined by "The Little Pigs" and published as Three Children's Songs, Op. 68. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_142

Prokofiev also composed the gigantic Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution, originally intended for performance during the anniversary year but effectively blocked by Kerzhentsev, who demanded at the work's audition before the Committee on Arts Affairs, "Just what do you think you're doing, Sergey Sergeyevich, taking texts that belong to the people and setting them to such incomprehensible music?" Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_143

The Cantata had to wait until 5 April 1966 for a partial premiere, just over 13 years after the composer's death. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_144

Forced to adapt to the new circumstances (whatever private misgivings he had about them), Prokofiev wrote a series of "mass songs" (Opp. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_145

66, 79, 89), using the lyrics of officially approved Soviet poets. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_146

In 1938, Prokofiev collaborated with Eisenstein on the historical epic Alexander Nevsky, some of his most inventive and dramatic music. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_147

Although the film had very poor sound recording, Prokofiev adapted much of his score into a large-scale cantata for mezzo-soprano, orchestra and chorus, which was extensively performed and recorded. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_148

In the wake of Alexander Nevsky's success, Prokofiev composed his first Soviet opera Semyon Kotko, which was intended to be produced by the director Vsevolod Meyerhold. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_149

However, the première of the opera was postponed because Meyerhold was arrested on 20 June 1939 by the NKVD (Joseph Stalin's Secret Police), and shot on 2 February 1940. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_150

Only months after Meyerhold's arrest, Prokofiev was 'invited' to compose Zdravitsa (literally translated 'Cheers! Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_151

', but more often given the English title Hail to Stalin) (Op. 85) to celebrate Joseph Stalin's 60th birthday. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_152

Later in 1939, Prokofiev composed his Piano Sonatas Nos. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_153

6, 7, and 8, Opp. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_154

82–84, widely known today as the "War Sonatas." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_155

Premiered respectively by Prokofiev (No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_156

6: 8 April 1940), Sviatoslav Richter (No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_157

7: Moscow, 18 January 1943) and Emil Gilels (No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_158

8: Moscow, 30 December 1944), they were subsequently championed in particular by Richter. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_159

Biographer Daniel Jaffé argued that Prokofiev, "having forced himself to compose a cheerful evocation of the nirvana Stalin wanted everyone to believe he had created" (i.e. in Zdravitsa) then subsequently, in the three sonatas, "expressed his true feelings". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_160

As evidence, Jaffé has pointed out that the central movement of Sonata No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_161

7 opens with a theme based on a Robert Schumann lied "Wehmut" ("Sadness", which appears in Schumann's Liederkreis, Op. 39): its words translate, "I can sometimes sing as if I were glad, yet secretly tears well and so free my heart. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_162

Nightingales… sing their song of longing from their dungeon's depth… everyone delights, yet no one feels the pain, the deep sorrow in the song." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_163

Ironically (it appears no one noticed his allusion), Sonata No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_164

7 received a Stalin Prize (Second Class), and No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_165

8 a Stalin Prize (First Class). Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_166

In the meantime, Romeo and Juliet was finally staged by the Kirov Ballet, choreographed by Leonid Lavrovsky, on 11 January 1940. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_167

To the surprise of all of its participants, the dancers having struggled to cope with the music's syncopated rhythms and almost having boycotted the production, the ballet was an instant success, and became recognised as the crowning achievement of Soviet dramatic ballet. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_168

War years Sergei Prokofiev_section_8

Prokofiev had been considering making an opera out of Leo Tolstoy's epic novel War and Peace, when news of the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 made the subject seem all the more timely. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_169

Prokofiev took two years to compose his original version of War and Peace. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_170

Because of the war, he was evacuated together with a large number of other artists, initially to the Caucasus, where he composed his Second String Quartet. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_171

By now, his relationship with the 25-year-old writer and librettist Mira Mendelssohn (1915–1968) had finally led to his separation from his wife Lina, although they never divorced; indeed, Prokofiev had tried to persuade Lina and their sons to accompany him as evacuees out of Moscow, but Lina opted to stay. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_172

During the war years, restrictions on style and the demand that composers write in a 'socialist realist' style were slackened, and Prokofiev was generally able to compose in his own way. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_173

The Violin Sonata No. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_174 1, Op. 80, The Year 1941, Op. 90, and the Ballade for the Boy Who Remained Unknown, Op. 93 all came from this period. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_175

In 1943, Prokofiev joined Eisenstein in Alma-Ata, the largest city in Kazakhstan, to compose more film music (Ivan the Terrible), and the ballet Cinderella (Op. 87), one of his most melodious and celebrated compositions. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_176

Early that year, he also played excerpts from War and Peace to members of the Bolshoi Theatre collective, but the Soviet government had opinions about the opera that resulted in many revisions. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_177

In 1944, Prokofiev composed his Fifth Symphony (Op. 100) at a composer's colony outside Moscow. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_178

He conducted its first performance on 13 January 1945, just a fortnight after the triumphant premieres on 30 December 1944 of his Eighth Piano Sonata and, on the same day, the first part of Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_179

With the premiere of his Fifth Symphony, which was programmed alongside Peter and the Wolf and the Classical Symphony (conducted by Nikolai Anosov), Prokofiev appeared to reach the peak of his celebrity as a leading composer of the Soviet Union. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_180

Shortly afterwards, he suffered a concussion after a fall due to chronic high blood pressure. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_181

He never fully recovered from the injury, and he was forced on medical advice to restrict his composing activity. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_182

Postwar Sergei Prokofiev_section_9

Prokofiev had time to write his postwar Sixth Symphony and his Ninth Piano Sonata (for Sviatoslav Richter) before the so-called "Zhdanov Decree". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_183

In early 1948, following a meeting of Soviet composers convened by Andrei Zhdanov, the Politburo issued a resolution denouncing Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Myaskovsky, and Khachaturian of the crime of "formalism", described as a "renunciation of the basic principles of classical music" in favour of "muddled, nerve-racking" sounds that "turned music into cacophony". Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_184

Eight of Prokofiev's works were banned from performance: The Year 1941, Ode to the End of the War, Festive Poem, Cantata for the Thirtieth Anniversary of October, Ballad of an Unknown Boy, the 1934 piano cycle Thoughts, and Piano Sonatas Nos. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_185

6 and 8. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_186

Such was the perceived threat behind the banning of the works that even works that had avoided censure were no longer programmed: by August 1948, Prokofiev was in severe financial straits, his personal debt amounting to 180,000 rubles. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_187

Meanwhile, on 20 February 1948, Prokofiev's estranged wife Lina was arrested for 'espionage', as she had tried to send money to her mother in Spain. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_188

After nine months of interrogation, she was sentenced by a three-member Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR to 20 years of hard labour. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_189

She was eventually released after Stalin's death in 1953 and in 1974 left the Soviet Union. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_190

Prokofiev's latest opera projects, among them his desperate attempt to appease the cultural authorities, The Story of a Real Man, were quickly cancelled by the Kirov Theatre. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_191

The snub, in combination with his declining health, caused Prokofiev to progressively withdraw from public life and from various activities, even his beloved chess, and increasingly devote himself to his own work. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_192

After a serious relapse in 1949, his doctors ordered him to limit his composing to an hour a day. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_193

In spring 1949, he wrote his Cello Sonata in C, Op. 119, for the 22-year-old Mstislav Rostropovich, who gave the first performance in 1950, with Sviatoslav Richter. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_194

For Rostropovich, Prokofiev also extensively recomposed his Cello Concerto, transforming it into a Symphony-Concerto, a landmark in the cello and orchestra repertory today. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_195

The last public performance he attended, on 11 October 1952, was the première of the Seventh Symphony, his final masterpiece and last completed work. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_196

The symphony was written for the Children's Radio Division. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_197

Death Sergei Prokofiev_section_10

Prokofiev died at the age of 61 on 5 March 1953, the same day as Joseph Stalin. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_198

He had lived near Red Square, and for three days the throngs gathered to mourn Stalin, making it impossible to hold Prokofiev's funeral service at the headquarters of the Soviet Composers' Union. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_199

Because the hearse was not allowed near Prokofiev's house, his coffin had to be moved by hand through back streets in the opposite direction of the masses of people going to visit Stalin's body. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_200

About 30 people attended the funeral, Shostakovich among them. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_201

Although they had not seemed to get along when they met, in the later years their interactions had become far more amicable, with Shostakovich writing to Prokofiev that "I wish you at least another hundred years to live and create. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_202

Listening to such works as your Seventh Symphony makes it much easier and more joyful to live." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_203

Prokofiev is buried in Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_204

The leading Soviet musical periodical reported Prokofiev's death as a brief item on page 116. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_205

(The first 115 pages were devoted to the death of Stalin.) Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_206

Prokofiev's death is usually attributed to cerebral hemorrhage. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_207

He had been chronically ill for the prior eight years. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_208

Lina Prokofiev outlived her estranged husband by many years, dying in London in early 1989. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_209

Royalties from her late husband's music provided her with a modest income, and she acted as storyteller for a recording of her husband's Peter and the Wolf (currently released on CD by Chandos Records) with Neeme Järvi conducting the Scottish National Orchestra. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_210

Their sons Sviatoslav (1924–2010), an architect, and Oleg (1928–1998), an artist, painter, sculptor and poet, dedicated a large part of their lives to the promotion of their father's life and work. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_211

Posthumous reputation Sergei Prokofiev_section_11

Arthur Honegger proclaimed that Prokofiev would "remain for us the greatest figure of contemporary music," and the American scholar Richard Taruskin has recognised Prokofiev's "gift, virtually unparalleled among 20th-century composers, for writing distinctively original diatonic melodies." Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_212

Yet for some time Prokofiev's reputation in the West suffered as a result of Cold War antipathies, and his music has never won from Western academics and critics the kind of esteem enjoyed by Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg, composers purported to have had a greater influence on younger generations of musicians. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_213

Today Prokofiev may well be the most popular composer of 20th-century music. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_214

His orchestral music alone is played more frequently in the United States than that of any other composer of the last hundred years save Richard Strauss, while his operas, ballets, chamber works, and piano music appear regularly throughout major concert halls worldwide. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_215

The composer was honoured in his native Donetsk Oblast when the Donetsk International Airport was renamed "Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport" and the Donetsk Musical and Pedagogical Institute was renamed the "S.S. Prokofiev State Music Academy of Donetsk" in 1988. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_216

The All-Ukrainian open pianists' competition named after S.S. Prokofiev is held annually in Kiev (Ukraine) and comprises three categories: piano, composition, and symphony conducting. Sergei Prokofiev_sentence_217

Honours and awards Sergei Prokofiev_section_12

Sergei Prokofiev_unordered_list_0

Sergei Prokofiev_description_list_1

  • (1943), 2nd degree – for Piano Sonata No. 7Sergei Prokofiev_item_1_1
  • (1946), 1st degree – for Symphony No. 5 and Piano Sonata No. 8Sergei Prokofiev_item_1_2
  • (1946), 1st degree – for the music for the film "Ivan the Terrible" Part 1 (1944)Sergei Prokofiev_item_1_3
  • (1946), 1st degree – for the ballet "Cinderella" (1944)Sergei Prokofiev_item_1_4
  • (1947), 1st degree – for Violin Sonata No. 1Sergei Prokofiev_item_1_5
  • (1951), 2nd degree – for vocal-symphonic suite "Winter bonfire" and the oratorio "On Guard for Peace" on poems by Samuil MarshakSergei Prokofiev_item_1_6

Sergei Prokofiev_unordered_list_2


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei Prokofiev.