Sergei Prokofiev

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Sergei Prokofiev. Presented by: Lynsie Brown. Born April 27, 1891. Sontsovka (Modern-Day Ukraine). Little Sergei and his parents. Composed 1 st piece at age 5. “Indian Gallop”. Young Sergei at about the time he wrote Indian Gallop. St. Petersburg 1904. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei ProkofievPresented by:Lynsie Brown

Prokofiev has been my favorite composer since I was 15 years old. I was required to write a biography on someone from history in my tenth grade English class, and because I was learning a Prokofiev piece for the first time I was simply fascinated by his music and wanted to learn more. I have been hooked ever since.

1Born April 27, 1891

Sontsovka (Modern-Day Ukraine)

Little Sergei and his parentsSergei Prokofiev was born on April 27, 1891 in Sontsovka (present-day Ukraine). He grew up as an only child and received plenty of attention from his parents. His mother was a pianist and would have little Sergei sit on the sofa and watch her practice for hours at a time. His father was a rather successful agricultural engineer.2Indian Gallop

Composed 1st piece at age 5Young Sergei at about the time he wrote Indian Gallop

He composed his first song, Indian Gallop, at the age of 5. After composing his first opera, The Giant, at the age of nine, his parents enrolled him in composition lessons in 1902. He had by then composed many pieces, but the lessons helped him to be able to compose on a deeper level. Prokofievs style had always been experimental and creative, even from a young age (6, 5).

3Prokofiev Enrolls in formal composition schoolWas referred to as Enfant TerribleDid not receive high marksSt. Petersburg 1904

In 1904 Sergei moved to St. Petersburg and enrolled at the Academy of Music there. He was much younger than his classmates and he seems to have a chip on his shoulder; something to prove. He often argued with his professors and felt that the education that was offered was sub-par. 4Was younger than most of his classmates

Struggled getting along with peers

Graduated in 1909 While at the academy, he struggled with getting along with his peers and he was looked down upon for being arrogant and a little strange. He was often referred to as enfant terrible by his professors. Leaving all of this aside, he was undoubtedly talented and that could not be denied. It was at this point in his life that he met and ultimately studied under Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Although he did not place at the top of his class, Sergei did graduate in 1909 in composition.

5Won the Rubenstein award in 1914

The judges were torn on giving him this prize because his piece was so forward-sounding.The prize was a grand piano.Prokofiev left the academy after winning the Rubenstein award in 1914. 6

Piano Concerto 11914

When his father died in 1910, Sergei had to rely on his own means to provide for himself. By this time he was doing fairly well for himself, in spite of the fact that his music was often labeled scandalous. He continued on at the academy working more as a conductor and pianist than a composer. By 1914 he had completed two of his concertos. 7Studied Organ in 1914

He decided to try his hand at touring and started in London, but soon returned to St. Petersburg with the goal of studying the organ. It was at this time he wrote an opera based on Dostoyevskys The Gambler. The timing was not right for this because World War I had begun and the February Revolution that was happening in Russia was too big of a distraction for people to be interested in an opera about gambling; in fact the show never went on. It was during this time that the started his third piano concerto, although it was not finished till some years later. This would end up being his most famous concerto. (5,6)


Began Collaboration with Diaghilev in 1914Photo from Le pa DaceirAnsemet, Diaghilev, Stravinsky & ProkofievIn 1915 Sergei was approached by the Great Russian choreographer, Serge Diaghilev, to compose a ballet, (Le pas Dacier (The Steel Steps)). As he had not had experience with ballets, he agreed to be subjected to reviews and critiquing by Diaghilev and there were many revisions made. In the end, Le pas Dacier was a success and received rave reviews from Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky who respectively called it a work of genius and the single piece of modern music he could listen to with pleasure (5). 9

The Love for Three Oranges debuts in Chicago 1921 In 1917 he wrote the Classical, a symphony that was named for the musical era, but did not find success with it. After feeling the stress of political turmoil in Russia, he set out for the United States in May of 1918. He enjoyed initial success as a pianist in the United States after playing in both San Francisco and New York, but in the spring of 1920, after a failed contract for his opera, The Love for Three Oranges, he decided to go to Paris. 10The pair moved to Paris shortly after weddingMarried Lina Llubera in 1923

Prokofiev married Lina Llubera, a Spanish singer in 1923 in Europe. The pair then moved to Paris as he felt he had had the most success there. From this point until 1927 he did a lot of touring in New York, Chicago, London and Paris. During this time he felt that it was best to stay away from the Soviet Union because of the political unrest, but always had a longing to go home. He did that in 1927 and was lavished with love and praise. (8)11Sergei was in a car accident in 1929 where his hands were injured.Thankfully he made a full recoveryIn 1929 Sergei was in a car accident that injured his hands. Taking some needed time to heal, he decided to lay some roots back in Russia and focus more of his time there, and less in Paris. 12Friendship with Stravinsky

It was here that Prokofiev and Stravinskys friendship was cultivated. Prokofiev did not think very highly of Stranvinskys music, however. Stravinsky, on the other hand, thought of Prokofiev as the greatest Russian composer of his day (5). It was also during this time that he finished his 4th and 5th concertos in 1931 and 1932 (6). 13Peter and the WolfWritten in 1936 for children

In the early 1930s Prokofiev was commissioned to write a balled for the Kirov Theater. The result was Romeo and Juliet. This is one of his most popular works and continues to be performed all over the world. (6) 1936 brought about his most famous work ever; Peter and the Wolf. This piece was an instant hit and has been a wonderful guide for instruments of the orchestra, and especially appeals to children. (9)14Josef Stalin Prokofiev Works for the Soviet

He was leery of Stalin and did not agreewith his regime.The government had control over composers during Stalins reign.

Prokofiev had laid the foundation for a fairly good relationship with the Soviet government, with Stalin at the helm. The government had created a Composers Union which kept very tight reigns on everything that composers produced. They had their eye closely on Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich for their formalist tendencies. (5) When World War II began, it also marked serious unrest with Prokofiev and the Soviet government. He did not agree with the things Stalin was doing and soon fell out of favor with them. (8)15Alexander Nevsky written in 1938Music later adapted into Sonata bythe composer

In 1938, Prokofiev wrote Alexander Nevsky after receiving a commission from Sergei Eisenstein, a Russian Filmmaker. Prokofiev later adapted the work into a cantata. In 1939 he composed Piano Sonatas Nos. 6,7, and 8, otherwise known as the War Sonatas. Two of these works won the honor of the Stalin Prize, which was ironic because he was said to have composed these sonatas as a way to express his anger with the Stalin regime. (5)


Prokofiev and Mira Mendelson After a love affair with Mira Mendelson, he separated from his wife, Lina. Sergei and Lina were technically never divorced, but he spent the rest of this life with Mira. 17He died on March 5, 1953Same day as Josef Stalins death

Prokofiev died on March 5, 1953. Ironically, this was the same day that Josef Stalin died.18Listening Guide for Peter and the WolfEarly One Morning

The violins carry the melody as they sweetly paint the picture of young Peter going out into a meadow. They feature the notes of the C major triad while the cellos and violas accompany with the same notes in broken 2nd inversions. At count 0:11 it continues in the key of E Flat Major, only to resolve back to tonic at 0:26. Count 0:28 repeats the sequence with the 1st violins lightly accenting a high G on the upbeat of this 4/4 time signature. The tempo is Andantino and the feel is very relaxed. Count 0:46 starts out with an ascending C Major scale that morphs into an E Major pattern of sixths, then jumps down again and brings us back up to resolve into C once again. We can hear the full, rich tone of the cellos carrying the bass part of this sequence.19On a branch of a big tree

Count 0:08 introduces us to the chirping bird represented by the flute in airy tones. The flute quickly flits over graced-note Gs and G Sharps followed by accented patterns of 16th embellishments as we picture the small creature happily singing his song above. The violins join at count 0:15, plucking out pizzicato eighth notes while the flautist displays great skill blowing out the broken major to minor C chords inspiring a feel that the bird is highly curious and easily distracted. This motif is repeated, this time with the oboe accompanying at count 0:21 in such a high range that one questions if it is not a second flute. The Violins come back in with their pizzicato G Major arpeggios (with an F Sharp thrown in for color) at count 0:27. After a brief pause at 0:35, the full strings come in once again Andatino, come prima with the richness of a V7 D Major chord that leads us beautifully back to C Major for a brief moment. We then repeat the opening t