There is hardly a musical genre where the genius of SERGEI PROKOFIEV has not produced masterpieces, emblematic of the twentieth century musical culture. Nowadays, his works are still in performance all over the world – his seven symphonies, eight instrumental concertos, eleven operas, seven ballets, oratorios, cantatas, chamber vocal and instrumental works, piano sonatas; the feature films and theatrical performances featuring his music are well remembered.
One of the great innovators of the century’s musical idiom, Prokofiev remains a unique phenomenon, which does not readily yield to classification or fit into generic stylistic tendencies. The idiosyncrasy of his music is readily distinguishable for the soulful beauty of its quaint melodic lines, unanticipated harmonies and ingenious, unconventional rhythmic texture. Having displayed bright pianistic and compositional talent from a very early age, he managed to impress all the great musicians of his time with his originality. Prokofiev graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatoire performing his First Piano Concerto and received a Gold Medal and the Anton Rubinstein Honorary Prize – a Schröder grand piano.
In the wake of his appearances at the St. Petersburg Evenings of Contemporary Music, publishers began to print his works; he received commissions from Sergei Diaghilev to write four ballet works for Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet, presented at the Russian Seasons in Paris.
But his life path grew more complex and controversial in subsequent years, as is the case with so many talented Russian artists of that age. Following the 1917 Revolution, the composer emigrated and made some successful journeys as pianist, composer and conductor in Japan, America, and Europe.
In 1936, Prokofiev returned to the Soviet Union, where his music at times received accolades and at times was condemned as “modernist”. In the notorious 1948 Decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party his name, alongside the names of some of the brightest Russian composers, were collectively denounced as “formalists”, while some of his works were proscribed from performance. But until his last day in his Moscow communal apartment, he continued to create masterpieces.