V/A - Classic music: Prokofiev

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (/prəˈkɒfiɛf, pr-, -ˈkɔː-, -ˈk-, -jɛf, -jɛv, -iəf/;[1][2][3]Russian: Серге́й Серге́евич Проко́фьев, tr. Sergej Sergejevič Prokofjev;[n 1][4][5] 27 April [O.S. 15 April] 1891 – 5 March 1953)[n 2] was a Russian Soviet composer, pianist and conductor. As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous musical genres,
he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His
works include such widely heard pieces as the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet—from which "Dance of the Knights" is taken—and Peter and the Wolf. Of the established forms and genres in which he worked, he created – excluding juvenilia – seven completed operas, seven symphonies, eight ballets, five piano concertos, two violin concertos, a cello concerto, a symphony-concerto for cello and orchestra, and nine completed piano sonatas.

A graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory,
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. 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. Diaghilev commissioned three further ballets from Prokofiev—Chout, Le pas d'acier and The Prodigal Son—which
at the time of their original production all caused a sensation among
both critics and colleagues. Prokofiev's greatest interest, however, was
opera, and he composed several works in that genre, including The Gambler and The Fiery Angel. 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.

After the Revolution of 1917, Prokofiev left Russia with the official blessing of the Soviet minister Anatoly Lunacharsky,
and resided in the United States, then Germany, then Paris, making his
living as a composer, pianist and conductor. During that time, he
married a Spanish singer, Carolina (Lina) Codina,
with whom he had two sons. In the early 1930s, the Great Depression
diminished opportunities for Prokofiev's ballets and operas to be staged
in America and western Europe. 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. He enjoyed
some success there – notably with Lieutenant Kijé, Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps above all with Alexander Nevsky.

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