SERGEI  PROKOFIEV  1891-1953

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"Portrait of Sergey Prokofiev"

Autor Rinat Kuramshin

Sergey Sergeyevich Prokofiev (1891-1953) is a prominent Russian composer, pianist, director, musical writer, People’s Artist of the Russian SFSR, Laureate of the Lenin Prize and six Stalin’s Prizes.
He is one of prominent composers of the  XXth century and created his own innovative style.
At the age of 6 Prokofiev composed small piano pieces and when he was 9, he composed a children’s opera. In 1902 S.Taneyev saw his first compositions and advised him to take lessons from R.Glier.  
Sergey Prokofiev entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory when he was only 13. In 1904-1914, he was a student of N. Rimsky-Korsakov (instrumentation), Y.Vitols (musical form), А. Lyadova (composition) and А.Еsipov (piano). In the final exam Prokofiev excellently performed  his First Concert. He was granted A. Rubinstein’s Prize for it.  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.

In 1918 Prokofiev went to the USA, France, Germany, England, Italy and Spain. He gave many concerts and he composed the following operas: the Love for Three Oranges,   the Fiery Angel, ballets: the Steel Step, the Prodigal Son, the On the Dnepr, and instrumental music.

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.

At the beginning of 1927 and at the end of 1929, Prokofiev had a great success in the Soviet Union. In late 1932, Prokofiev decided to come back to the motherland.

By mid 1930’s Prokofiev’s creative work achieved its apex. He created one of his masterpieces, the Romeo and Juliette ballet based on W. Shakespeare,  the Betrothal in a Monastery opera, cantatas the Alexandr Nevsky and the Zdravitsa, the Petya and the Wolf symphonic tale with instruments-characters, the Sixth Sonata for a piano and Children’s music.

Mariinsky Theatre.

Late 19th century

S. Prokofiev

Notes "Ten pieces"

Sergey Prokofiev

In the 30-40’s Prokofiev’s music was performed by the following best soviet musicians: N.Golovanov, E.Gilels, V.Sofronitsky, S.Rikhter and D.Oistrakh. The highest achievement of the soviet choreography was Julietta’s image created by ballerina G.Ulanova.

By mid 1930’s Prokofiev’s creative work achieved its apex. He created one of his masterpieces, the Romeo and Juliette ballet based on W. Shakespeare,  the Betrothal in a Monastery opera, cantatas the Alexandr Nevsky and the Zdravitsa, the Petya and the Wolf symphonic tale with instruments-characters, the Sixth Sonata for a piano and Children’s music. In the 30-40’s Prokofiev’s music was performed by the following best soviet musicians: N.Golovanov, E.Gilels,

V.Sofronitsky, S.Rikhter and D.Oistrakh. The highest achievement of the soviet choreography was Julietta’s image created by ballerina G. Ulanova.During World War II, Prokofiev worked much on the Zolushka ballet, the 5th symphony, sonatas and No. 7,  8, 9 sonatas for piano, a sonata for flute and piano. He created a grandiose heroic-patriotic epic opera the War and Piece based on L.Tolstoy’s novel, he also worked on The Ivan Grozny movie together with director S. Eizenstein.  

 

After the War although very ill, Prokofiev created many serious works: the Sixth and the Seventh Symphonies, the Ninth piano sonata, a new version of the War and Piece, a cello sonata and a Symphony Concert for cello and orchestra. The end of 1940 – beginning of the 50’s saw loud campaigns against “antinational formalist” direction in the soviet art and  persecution of best representatives. Prokofiev became one of the main formalists.  The public slander campaign against his music in 1948 damaged his health.
During his last years Prokofiev lived in his country house in Nikolina Gora settlement  surrounded by nature so much loved by him. He continued composing in spite of doctors’ prohibitions. Hard life circumstances had an impact on his creative work. Beside masterpieces he composed music of a «simplified concept»  like The Volga Meets the Don overture, the On the Guardians of the Galaxy  oratory, the Winter Bonfire suite, some pieces from the Tale of the Stone Flowr ballet and the Seventh Symphony. Sergey Prokofiev composed music of all genres and left a huge creative heritage. For a total, he composed 11 operas, 7 ballets, 7 symphonies, 7 concerts for soloist with orchestra, 9 piano sonatas, oratories and cantatas, chamber vocal and instrumental compositions, music for cinema and theater and a series of vocal pieces to the lyrics by K. Balmont, A. Pushkin, N. Agnivtsev and others. Sergey Prokofiev wrote a series of beautiful romances to poems by Anna Akhmatova.

 

Composer Sergey Prokofiev is one of most plaid composers of the XXth century.  Many of Prokofiev’s pieces (over 130 opuses) have become part of the world culture treasurer.
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.
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».