50 Facts About Sergei Prokofiev


Graduate of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Sergei 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.

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Sergei 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.

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Nazi invasion of the USSR spurred Sergei Prokofiev to compose his most ambitious work, an operatic version of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace; he co-wrote the libretto with Mira Mendelson, his longtime companion and later second wife.

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Sergei Prokofiev was born in 1891 in a rural estate in Sontsovka, Bakhmutsky Uyezd, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire .

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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, as the young Prokofiev felt "reluctance to tackle the black notes".

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

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Nonetheless, equipped with the necessary theoretical tools, Sergei Prokofiev started experimenting with dissonant harmonies and unusual time signatures in a series of short piano pieces he called "ditties", laying the basis for his own musical style.

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Sergei Prokofiev passed the introductory tests and enrolled that year.

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

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Sergei Prokofiev shared classes with the composers Boris Asafyev and Nikolai Myaskovsky, the latter becoming a close and lifelong friend.

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

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Sergei Prokofiev composed his first two piano concertos around then, the latter of which caused a scandal at its premiere .

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

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

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

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Sergei Prokofiev 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.

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

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

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Sergei Prokofiev completed some of his older, unfinished works, such as his Third Piano Concerto.

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In March 1922, Sergei 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.

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In 1923, Sergei Prokofiev married the Spanish singer Carolina Codina before moving back to Paris.

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

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Sergei Prokofiev 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.

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Sergei Prokofiev met Boris Krasin in the violinist Joseph Szigeti's Paris apartment in 1924.

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

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Sergei Prokofiev 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.

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

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Sergei 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.

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That year, Sergei Prokofiev began his first non-Diaghilev ballet On the Dnieper, Op.

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However, Sergei 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.

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Year, Sergei Prokofiev composed one of his most famous works, Peter and the Wolf, for Natalya Sats' Central Children's Theatre.

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Sergei 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.

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

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Sergei Prokofiev 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.

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On 20 January 1945, Sergei Prokofiev suffered a concussion after fainting in his apartment due to untreated chronic hypertension.

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Sergei Prokofiev was berated by a minor composer, Viktor Bely, who accused him of "innovation for innovation's sake" and "artistic snobbishness", but unlike Dmitri Shostakovich, Khachaturian and others, Sergei Prokofiev gave no speech.

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Sergei Prokofiev's silence set off rumors that he had been deliberately defiant and uncooperative.

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The cellist Mstislav Rostropovich heard that Sergei Prokofiev was chatting to the person next to him when a senior figure sitting nearby warned him to be quiet.

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Eight of Sergei 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.

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On 22 November 1947, Sergei Prokofiev filed a petition in court to begin divorce proceedings against his estranged wife.

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Sergei Prokofiev's was released eight years later on 30 June 1956 and in 1974 left the Soviet Union.

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

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

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

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Sergei Prokofiev's occupied her time organizing her husband's papers, promoting his music, and writing her memoirs, having been strongly encouraged by Prokofiev to embark on the latter.

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

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

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All-Ukrainian open pianists' competition named after Sergei Prokofiev is held annually in Kyiv and comprises three categories: piano, composition, and symphony conducting.

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Sergei Prokofiev was a soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Piero Coppola, in the first recording of his Piano Concerto No 3, recorded in London by His Master's Voice in June 1932.

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Sergei Prokofiev recorded some of his solo piano music for HMV in Paris in February 1935; these recordings were issued on CD by Pearl and Naxos.

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