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Sergei Prokofiev: 125th Birthday on 23 April 2016

Sergei Prokofiev is, alongside Dmitri Shostakovich and Igor Stravinsky, one of the most important Russian composers of the 20th century. He created such works as the ballets “Cinderella” and “Romeo and Juliet”, the children’s concert classic “Peter and the Wolf”, symphonies and numerous instrumental and vocal works, some of which are amongst the world’s most frequently performed works of Russian music.

Prokofiev was born on 23 April 1891 and studied composition, piano and conducting at the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1904 to 1914. In 1918 he left his homeland with the permission of the Soviet authorities. In Paris, where he finally settled in 1923, the famous impresario Serge Diaghilev and the dancer and choreographer Sergei Lifar produced his early ballets between 1921 and 1932. Prokofiev returned definitively to Russia with his family in 1936. Despite his efforts to adhere to the official aesthetic maxims of the Party, his works did not always meet with unqualified approval. In 1948 he was found guilty, alongside Shostakovich, Akhmatova, Pasternak, Eisenstein and others, of “formalism” as a result of the repressive cultural campaign introduced by Andrei Zhdanov. Prokofiev’s instrumental works rapidly found a place in the repertoires of renowned interpreters. Alongside his seven symphonies, Prokofiev’s worldwide fame is based on the ballet music to the Shakespeare drama “Romeo and Juliet” and the symphonic children’s fairytale “Peter and the Wolf”. He succeeds in combining the most tender lyricism and filigree melodies with a bold harmonic language, vehement dissonances and often piercing rhythms.

Copyright of the photo: Courtesy of the Serge Prokofiev Foundation

 

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