Sergei Prokofiev

Knowledge Identifier: +Sergei_Prokofiev


Sergei Prokofiev

Russian composer, pianist and conductor, one of the major composers of the 20th centuryadd

Category: Music (650)

Born in 1891.

Countries: Russia (26%), (15%), United States (13%)

Education: undef.

Main connections: Joseph Stalin, Igor Stravinsky, Leopold Stokowski

Linked to: Everest Records, London Symphony Orchestra, Naxos Records, Chicago Opera Association




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Sergei Prokofiev was born in 1891 add something


He was inspired by hearing his mother practising the piano in the evenings - mostly works by Chopin and Beethoven - and composed his first piano composition at the age of five, an 'Indian Gallop', which was written down by his mother: this was in the Lydian mode as the young Prokofiev felt 'reluctance to tackle the black notes'. add something


Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra - Between 1901 and the outbreak of World War II in 1939, several virtuoso- and conductor-composers regularly performed their works with the orchestra, including Edvard Grieg, Arthur Honegger, Leoncavallo, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saëns, Richard Strauss, and Igor Stravinsky


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. add something


Reinhold Gliere - Taneyev found two private pupils for him in 1902: Nikolai Myaskovsky and the eleven-year-old Sergei Prokofiev, whom Glière taught on Prokofiev's parental estate Sontsovka


Then in 1904, while Prokofiev and his mother were in Saint Petersburg to explore the possibility of their moving there for his education, they were introduced to composer Alexander Glazunov, a professor at the Conservatory. add something


During this period he studied under, among others, Anatoly Lyadov, Nikolai Tcherepnin and Nikolai_Rimsky-Korsakov (though when Rimsky-Korsakov died in 1908, Prokofiev noted that he had only studied orchestration with him 'after a fashion'—that is, 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'). add something


In 1909, he graduated from his class in composition with unimpressive marks. add something


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


Hector Dufranne - He sang with the Chicago Grand Opera Company and the Chicago Opera Association from 1910 to 1922, creating there Léandre in "The Love for Three Oranges" by Sergei Prokofiev, in 1921


In 1911, help arrived from renowned Russian musicologist and critic Alexander Ossovsky, who wrote a supportive letter to music publisher Boris P. Jurgenson, thus a contract was offered to the composer. add something


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


He composed his first two piano concertos around this time, the latter of which caused a scandal at its premiere. add something


In 1914, Prokofiev finished his career at the Conservatory by entering the so-called 'battle of the pianos', a competition open to the five best piano students for which the prize was a Schreder grand piano: Prokofiev won by performing his own Piano Concerto No. 1. add something


Prokofiev has the rare distinction for a composer of having won a game against a future world chess champion, albeit in the context of a simultaneous match: an interactive record of his winning game against Capablanca of 16 May 1914 is available at chess. add something


Diaghilev commissioned Prokofiev's first ballet, Ala and Lolli, but rejected the work in progress when Prokofiev brought it to him in Italy in 1915. add something


Worried about the enemy capturing Saint Petersburg, he returned in 1918. add something


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


Modest Altschuler - Among the Orchestra's notable premieres were Sergei Prokofiev Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major, Op. 10, which was performed at Carnegie Hall in New York on December 10, 1918 and Mussorgsky's "Prelude to Khovanshchina", which Altschuler presented at Carnegie Hall on February 25, 1905


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


The Love for Three Oranges finally premièred in Chicago in December 1921, under the composer's baton. add something


Jose Mojica - While at Chicago he landed secondary roles, but his career slowly gained momentum in 1921 when he played leading parts in Debussy´s "Pelléas et Mélisande" and Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges", both alongside renowned soprano Mary Garden


In March 1922, Prokofiev moved with his mother to the town of Ettal in the Bavarian Alps for over a year so he could concentrate on composing. add something


Mary Garden - Although director for only one year, Garden was notably responsible for staging the world premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges" before the company went bankrupt in 1922


In 1923, he married the Spanish singer Lina Llubera (1897–1989), before moving back to Paris. add something


David Oistrakh - His 1926 graduation concert consisted of Bach's Chaconne, Tartini's Devil's Trill Sonata, Rubinstein's Viola Sonata, and Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major


Alexander Khvostenko-Khvostov - In 1926 he cooperated in the production of Prokofiev's "Love for the three Oranges" in Kharkiv


Around 1927, the virtuoso's situation brightened; he had exciting commissions from Diaghilev and made concert tours in Russia; in addition, he enjoyed a very successful staging of The Love for Three Oranges in Leningrad (as Saint Petersburg was known). add something


During 1928–29 Prokofiev composed what was to be the last ballet for Diaghilev, The Prodigal Son, which was staged on 21 May 1929 in Paris with Serge Lifar in the title role. add something


Two older operas played in Europe and in 1928 Prokofiev produced his Third Symphony, which was broadly based on his unperformed opera The Fiery Angel. add something


Paul Bowles - Bowles entered the University of Virginia in 1928, where his interests included T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land", Prokofiev, Duke Ellington, Gregorian chants, and the blues


In 1929, Prokofiev wrote the Divertimento, Op. 43 and revised his Sinfonietta, Op. 5/48, a work started in his days at the Conservatory. add something


Tadeusz Szeligowski - He complemented his studies in music in the years 1929-1931 in Paris, where he met many composers of his time such as Sergei Prokofiev, George Enesco and Arthur Honegger


In 1930 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 Opera. add something


Dimitri Mitropoulos - At a 1930 concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, he played the solo part of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 and conducted the orchestra from the keyboard, becoming one of the first modern musicians to do so


Eileen Joyce - On 6 September 1930 she made her professional debut in London at a Henry Wood Promenade Concert, playing Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3


Robert Soetens - In Brussels, he came in contact with Sergei Prokofiev, who chose Soetens and Samuel Dushkin to premiere his Sonata for Two Violins in 1932


Wilhelm Furtwangler - However, he was a champion of modern music, notably the works of Paul Hindemith and Arnold Schoenberg, and conducted the World premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto on October 31, 1932 as well as performances of Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra


Ma Sicong - In February 1934, Ma collaborated with Jewish pianist Harry Ore, who was a classmate of Sergei Prokofiev, and composed the "Violin sonata No. 1 in G major"

Major work

1935 - Romeo And Juliet: Montagues And Capulets by Sergei Prokofiev


In 1936, Prokofiev returned permanently to the Soviet Union; his family followed a year later. add something


Boris Khaykin - He was artistic director of the Little Leningrad Opera Theatre in 1936-43 and the principal conductor at the Kirov Theatre in 1944-53, where he conducted the première of Sergei Prokofiev's "Betrothal in a Monastery" on 3 November 1946

Major work

1936 - Peter And The Wolf: The Story Begins by Sergei Prokofiev


In 1938, Prokofiev collaborated with Eisenstein on the historical epic Alexander Nevsky. add something


In 1938, he conducted the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in a recording of the second suite from his Romeo and Juliet ballet; this performance was later released on LP and CD. Another reported recording with Prokofiev and the Moscow Philharmonic was of the First Violin Concerto with David Oistrakh as soloist; Everest Records later released this recording on an LP. Despite the attribution, the conductor was Alexander Gauk. add something


Pierre Monteux - He conducted it until 1938, premiering many pieces, including Prokofiev's Third Symphony in 1929


Denver Symphony Orchestra - In 1938, Sergei Prokofiev conducted the orchestra in his "First Symphony" and performed his "First Piano Concerto" under the baton of Horace Tureman


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. add something


Later in 1939, Prokofiev composed his Piano Sonatas Nos. 6, 7, and 8, Opp. 82–84, widely known today as the "War Sonatas. add something


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


Sergei Eisenstein - Eisenstein corresponded with Prokofiev from Alma Ata, and was joined by him there in 1942.


In 1943 Prokofiev joined Eisenstein in Alma-Ata, the largest city in Kazakhstan, to compose more film music, and the ballet Cinderella, one of his most melodious and celebrated compositions. add something


Leopold Stokowski - Stokowski conducted a great deal of contemporary music with the NBC Symphony, including the U.S. premiere of Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky" in 1943, the world premieres of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto and George Antheil's 4th Symphony, both in 1944, and new works by Alan Hovhaness, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Milhaud, Howard Hanson, William Schuman, Morton Gould and many others


In 1944, Prokofiev moved to a composer's colony outside Moscow in order to compose his Fifth Symphony which would turn out to be the most popular of all his symphonies, both within Russia and abroad. add something


Symphony No. 8 (Shostakovich) - The symphony was criticised by Prokofiev and others at a Composers' Plenum in March 1944, and after the Zhdanov decree of 1948 it was effectively banned until eight years later


Emil Gilels - Gilels premiered Prokofiev's 8th Piano Sonata, dedicated to Mira Mendelssohn, on December 30, 1944, in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory


Prokofiev became the target in early 1948. add something


On 20 February 1948, Prokofiev's wife Lina was arrested for 'espionage', as she tried to send money to her mother in Spain. add something


In 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. add something


Vladimir Rosing - New York City Opera - In the fall of 1949 an offer came from the New York City Opera to revive the comic opera by Prokofiev, "The Love for Three Oranges"


Leopold Stokowski - His many "first performances" with them included the U.S. Premiere of Prokofiev's 6th Symphony in 1949


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


The last public performance of his lifetime was the première of the somewhat bittersweet Seventh Symphony in 1952. add something


Sviatoslav Richter - On February 18, 1952, Richter made his debut as a conductor when he led the world premiere of Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in E minor, with Mstislav Rostropovich as the soloist


Prokofiev died at the age of 61 on 5 March 1953, the day Joseph Stalin's death was announced. add something


Prokofiev died at the age of 61 on 5 March 1953, the day Joseph Stalin's death was announced add something


Italo Tajo - War and Peace - In 1953 he appeared at the Teatro Comunale Florence as Count Rostov and Field-Marshal Kutuzov in the near-complete Italian-language première of Prokofiev's "War and Peace"


Leopold Stokowski - His first commercial stereo recordings were made in 1954 for RCA Victor with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, devoted to excerpts from Prokofiev's ballet "Romeo and Juliet" and the complete one-act ballet "Sebastian" by Gian Carlo Menotti


Fatma Gadri - War and Peace - This led to emaciation in 1958, when Fatma Gadri suddenly fell unconscious at the Pushkin Moscow Drama Theatre, right before her final act in "War and Peace" by Sergei Prokofiev, during the troupe's tour in Moscow


Malcolm Frager - He made his Carnegie Hall debut in November 1960, performing Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 6


Malcolm Binns - In 1961 he gave the British premiere of the Piano Concerto No. 4, for left hand, by Prokofiev


At the same time Prokofiev composed music for children as well as the gigantic "Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution," which was banned from performance and had to wait until May 1966 for a partial premiere add something


Emil Gilels - Salzburg Festival - Gilels made his Salzburg Festival debut in 1969 with a piano recital of Weber, Prokofiev and Beethoven at the Mozarteum, followed by a performance of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto with George Szell and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra


Maurizio Pollini - His first recordings for Deutsche Grammophon in 1971 included Stravinsky's "Trois mouvements de Petrouchka" and Prokofiev's Seventh Sonata and are still considered a landmark of twentieth century piano discography


Yuri Kholopov - He presented his Ph. D. Degree thesis in 1975 with a monograph "Contemporary Aspects of Harmony in Music of Prokofiev" printed earlier in 1967, and the Doctorate Degree thesis in 1977, with a monograph "Essays in Contemporary Harmony" printed in 1974


Brian Eno - In 1975 Eno performed as the Wolf in a rock version of Sergei Prokofiev's classic "Peter and The Wolf"


Lina Prokofieva outlived her estranged husband by many years, dying in London in early 1989 add something


Rudolf Nureyev - At that time, what inspired him to fight his illness was the hope that he could fulfill an invitation to conduct Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" at an American Ballet Theater's benefit on 6 May 1992 at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York


Montreal Symphony Orchestra - The OSM won Grammy *awards in 1996 for their recording of Hector Berlioz' "Les Troyens" and in 2000 for Sergei Prokofiev and Béla Bartók piano concerti with Martha Argerich on EMI, and additionally it has won a number of Juno *awards and Felix *awards


Gennady Rozhdestvensky - He became general artistic director of the Bolshoi Theatre in 2000, and in 2001 conducted the world premiere of the original version of Sergei Prokofiev's opera "The Gambler"


Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra - Also in 2005, Andrew Litton and the orchestra recorded music from Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet for &BIS (BIS_Records). This was Litton's first recording with the orchestra


Gabriel Tacchino - His recordings include the complete music for piano by Poulenc, which was reissued by EMI on five CDs in 2005; the complete piano concertos by Saint-Saëns and Prokofiev for Vox; and works by J. S. Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Franck, Grieg, Debussy, Satie, Ravel, Gershwin, Addinsell, and others for recording labels such as Erato and Pierre Verany


Jane Powell - For one evening, she returned to her hometown, Portland, Oregon , Oregon, narrating Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" with Pink Martini on December 31, 2007


Anthony Phillips 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 add something


Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra - February 2008 saw a packed Town Hall, and heard the voice of Robert Powell as narrator in Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf", which the Huddersfield Examiner described as "utterly engaging and absorbing