pingvini erg

Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев

Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев, Sergej Sergejevič Prokof’ev; 11 (23) April 1891 in Sontsovka, Russian Empire – 5th March 1953) was a Russian composer who mastered numerous musical genres and came to be admired as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. (Alternative transliterations of his name include Sergey or Serge, and Prokofjew, Prokofief or Prokofieff. Current 'most popular' form is Sergei Prokofiev.)

Prokofiev was born in 1891in Sontsovka (now Krasne, Krasnoarmiisk Raion, Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine), a remote rural estate in the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire. He displayed unusual musical abilities by the age of five. His first piano composition to be written down (by his mother), an 'Indian Gallop', was in the key of F Lydian (F major with a B natural instead of B flat) as the young Prokofiev felt 'reluctance to tackle the black notes'. By the age of seven, he had also learned to play chess. Much like music, chess would remain a passion his entire life, and he became acquainted with world chess champions Capablanca and Botvinnik.

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

In 1902, Prokofiev's mother obtained an audience with Sergei Taneyev, director of the Moscow Conservatoire. Taneyev suggested that Prokofiev should start lessons in composition with Alexander Goldenweiser, who declined, and Reinhold Glière. Glière visited Prokofiev in Sontsovka twice during the summer to teach him. By then Prokofiev had already produced a number of innovative pieces. As soon as he had the necessary theoretical tools, he quickly started experimenting, laying the base for his own musical style.

After a while, Prokofiev felt that the isolation in Sontsovka was restricting his further musical development. Although his parents were not too keen on forcing their son into a musical career at such an early age, in 1904 he moved to Saint Petersburg and applied to the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, after encouragement by the director Alexander Glazunov, who was later unhappy with Prokofiev's music. By this point Prokofiev had composed two more operas, Desert Islands and The Feast during the Plague and was working on his fourth, Undine. He passed the introductory tests and started his composition studies the same year. Being several years younger than most of his classmates, he was viewed as eccentric and arrogant, and he often expressed dissatisfaction with much of the education, which he found boring. During this period he studied under, among others, Anatol Liadov, Nikolai Tcherepnin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Later, he would regret squandering his opportunity to learn more from Rimsky-Korsakov. He also became friends with Boris Asafiev and Nikolai Myaskovsky.

As a member of the Saint Petersburg music scene, Prokofiev eventually earned a reputation as an enfant terrible, while also getting praise for his original compositions, which he would perform himself on the piano. In 1909, he graduated from his class in composition, getting less than impressive marks. He continued at the Conservatory, but now concentrated on playing the piano and conducting. His piano lessons went far from smoothly, but the composition classes made an impression on him. His teacher encouraged his musical experimentation, and his works from this period display more intensity than earlier ones.

In 1910, Prokofiev's father died and Sergei's economic support ceased. Luckily, at that time, he had started making a name for himself as a composer, although he frequently caused scandals with his forward-looking works. His first two piano concertos were composed around this time. In 1911 help arrived from renowned Russian musicologist and critic Alexander Ossovsky, who wrote a letter in strong support of Sergei Prokofiev to famous music publisher P.I.Jurgenson, thus a contract was offered to the composer. Prokofiev made his first excursion out of Russia in 1913, traveling to Paris and London where he first encountered Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

In 1914, Prokofiev left the Conservatory with the highest marks of his class, a feat which won him a grand piano. Soon afterward, he made a trip to London where he made contact with Diaghilev and Igor Stravinsky.

During World War I, Prokofiev returned again to the Conservatory, now studying the organ. He composed his opera The Gambler based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Gambler, but the rehearsals were plagued by problems and the première scheduled for 1917 had to be canceled because of the February Revolution. In summer the same year, Prokofiev composed his first symphony, the Classical. This was his own name for the symphony which was written in the style that, according to Prokofiev, Joseph Haydn would have used if he had been alive at the time. Hence, the symphony is more or less classical in style but incorporates more modern musical elements. After a brief stay with his mother in Kislovodsk in the Caucasus, because of worries of the enemy capturing Petrograd (the new name for Saint Petersburg), he returned in 1918, but he was now determined to leave Russia, at least temporarily. In the current Russian state of unrest, he saw no room for his experimental music and, in May, he headed for the USA. Despite this, he had already developed acquaintances with senior Bolsheviks including Anatoly Lunacharsky, the People's Commissar for Education, who told him: "You are a revolutionary in music, we are revolutionaries in life. We ought to work together. But if you want to go to America I shall not stand in your way."
Read more Artist photo


More news