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Prokofiev, Sergei

Sergei Prokofiev was a Russian (and Soviet) composer who composed symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program sets, among other genres. Prokofiev (Prokofiev in the Russian Academy of Sciences' transliteration system) was born into a farming household. The farmer songs and village life made an indelible impression on him. His mum, a talented pianist, became the highly gifted child's first music coach, organizing trips to the Moscow opera. Sergey Taneyev, a Moscow composer and teacher, gave the boy a high rating. On his advice, Russian composer Reinhold Glière went to Sontsovka twice during the summer months to become young Sergey's first teacher in theory and composition and to train him for entry into the St. Petersburg conservatory. Prokofiev's time at that organization, from 1904 to 1914, was an era of rapid artistic growth. His instructors admired his originality. He earned the Anton Rubinstein Prize in piano for a remarkable success of his first large-scale piece, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, when he graduated. Prokofiev received a solid grounding in the academic foundations of music at the conservatory, but he was also looking for new artistic ideas. Progressive circles promoting creative renewal backed up his enthusiasm. In 1908, Prokofiev made his first public appearance as a pianist at a concert series funded by such a party in St. Petersburg called Evenings of Contemporary Music. He met with friendly sympathy in a similar circle in Moscow a few years later, which helped him make his first appearances as a musician at the Moscow summer symphony seasons of 1911 and 1912. Prokofiev's musical ability proliferated. He studied Igor Stravinsky's compositions, especially the early ballets, but he was dismissive of his countryman's brilliant inventions. Prokofiev's growth was aided by his interactions with then-new currents in theater, music, and art. He was drawn to the work of Russian modernist poets and the drawings of Russian adherents of Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso and the dramatic concepts of Vsevolod Meyerhold, whose revolutionary productions were aimed at a stale naturalism. Serge Diaghilev, the great ballet impresario, met Prokofiev in 1914 and became one of his most prominent advisors over the next decade and a half. Prokofiev had an incredibly fruitful year in 1917, the year of two Russian revolutions. Prokofiev was in the streets of Petrograd when Tsar Nicholas II was deposed in February 1917, voicing his delight at the triumph. He wrote an enormous amount of new music in a year as if inspired by feelings of social and national renewal: he composed two sonatas, the Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, the Classical Symphony, and the choral work Seven, They Are Seven; he began the magnificent Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major; and he planned a new opera, The Love for Three Oranges, based on an 18th-century comedy story. Prokofiev was elected to the Council of Workers in the Arts in the summer of 1917, which guided Russia's left-wing creative activity; nevertheless, he was trapped in the Caucasus for nearly nine months, cut off from Petrograd by the civil war. He was only able to travel there in the spring of 1918. However, in these years' challenging situations, he concluded that music had a minor role in the council's affairs, and he left Russia for a concert tour abroad. Prokofiev passed across the dangerous road through Siberia, where civil war was active, with official approval.


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