Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Prokofiev in New York, around 1918
Bear's signature

Sergei Prokofiev ( Russian Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев [ prɐkofʲjɪf ] pronunciation ? / I , scientific. Transliteration Sergei Prokofiev Sergeevič ; April * 11 . Jul / 23. April 1891 greg. Gut Sonzowka today Sonziwka in Bachmut , yekaterinoslav governorate , Russian Empire ; † March 5, 1953 in Moscow ) was a Soviet pianist and composerAudio file / audio sample   . His musical fairy tale Peter and the Wolf is one of the most widely performed works of classical music in the world.


Sergei Prokofiev in New York, around 1918

Sergei Sergejewitsch Prokofjew, the son of an estate manager, showed musical talent at an early age. At the age of four he received his first piano lessons from his mother, and in 1896 he wrote his first compositions. After the composer Reinhold Glière had given him private lessons in the summers of 1902 and 1903 , he was introduced to Alexander Glasunow in early 1904 , who recommended that he begin studying at the Conservatory immediately. Prokofiev came to the St. Petersburg Conservatory as a 13-year-old student in April 1904 , where he studied composition , counterpoint , orchestration , piano and conducting with Nikolai Rimski-Korsakow and Anatoly Lyadow until 1914 . During his studies he went public with a few compositions and made a name for himself as a brilliant pianist. He stayed in Russia until 1918, traveling a lot and giving concerts.

Prokofiev with his first wife Lina Prokofiev and their sons Svyatoslav (1924-2010) and Oleg (1928-1998)
Mira Mendelson and Prokofiev in Moscow, 1946
Sergei Prokofiev with the composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Aram Chatschaturjan , 1940

Due to the difficult situation after the October Revolution , Prokofiev decided to leave Russia in 1918 and moved to the USA . There he did not manage to gain a foothold, however, so that he settled in France in April 1920 after a financial fiasco . In the following years he lived mostly in Paris, with the exception of 1922 and 1923, when he lived in Ettal . In 1923 he married Carolina Codina (1897-1989), a Spanish singer by the stage name Lina Llubera. His various concert tours as a conductor and especially as a pianist brought him back to the Soviet Union for the first time in 1927 . As a result, he was increasingly preoccupied with thoughts of returning. After a few years of commuting between Moscow and Paris, he finally settled in Moscow in 1936 . Two years later he made his last trip to a western country. In the Soviet Union, Prokofiev experienced an increase in productivity; many of his most important works were created there. At the World Music Days of the International Society for New Music (ISCM World Music Days) he is one of the most frequently performed composers: in 1923 the overture on a Hebrew theme was written in Salzburg , in Prague in 1924 (and later in Zurich in 1957) the violin concerto , and in 1928 in Siena performed the quintet for oboe, clarinet and string trio , in 1946 in London the ode to the end of the war op. 105 and in 1947 in Copenhagen / Lund the sonata No. 2 for violin and piano .

In 1941 he separated from his family and moved in with Mira Mendelson , whom he married in 1948. In 1945 he suffered a severe concussion in a fall, which led to lasting impairment of his health. On February 10, 1948, Prokofiev was accused of formalistic tendencies by the Central Committee (ZK) of the CPSU in the party resolution "About the Opera The Great Friendship " and called for greater popularity. Although his health deteriorated significantly in the last years of his life due to the consequences of the accident, Prokofiev remained tirelessly active until his death. From 1952 he received a state pension.

Grave of Sergei Prokofiev and his wife in the Novodevichy Cemetery

Prokofiev died on March 5, 1953, the same day as Stalin . Prokofiev's death therefore went almost completely unnoticed by the public in the shadow of the nationwide mourning for the dictator who died at the same time. There weren't even any flowers on his grave. His wife Mira died 15 years after him and was buried in the same grave in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.


Prokofiev himself explained his style as the interplay of four basic lines. The “classical line” is expressed on the one hand in his interest in historicizing elements such as old dances, on the other hand in his adherence to traditional forms. However, Prokofiev only composed his Classical Symphony in a truly neoclassical style , as he saw neoclassicism as a renunciation of an independent musical language. The “modern line”, on the other hand, includes his preference for daring harmonies , dissonances and unfamiliar combinations of chords. Sometimes it leads to the extreme limits of tonality . Third, Prokofiev mentions the “motor line”. Many of his works are characterized by piercing rhythms and wild motor skills. In contrast to this is the fourth "lyrical line". Time and again Prokofiev managed to create moments of bitter lyricism and quiet resignation and to compose expressive melodies. One can add to this list that humor and irony also play an important role in his work. Prokofiev's orchestral works also have a specific sound because they are often characterized by unusual orchestration , for example when violins and tuba play in unison .

Despite this continuity, three creative periods can be identified. The first is often referred to as the “Russian Period” as it includes works that were created before his temporary emigration. The works of this time are characterized by idiosyncratic rhythms, sharp dissonances, "sarcastic" humor and vital force. Although he is clearly breaking with the late Romantic tradition, his style is not completely detached from the musical past, especially since he does not break the tonality. Nevertheless, some of his works from this period caused a scandal (such as the Scythian Suite ). After a few more relaxed works during the transition (1st violin concerto, 3rd piano concerto), his tonal language became even more modern in the second period, the "period abroad" (from 1918). The dominance of the second “baseline” (see above) is clearly recognizable. In part, Prokofiev now disregards the tonality. Sound clusters and wild eruptions characterize many of his works at the time. Nevertheless, it never reached the modernity of some contemporaries.

Soviet stamp issue for Prokofiev's 100th birthday (1991)

From the beginning of the 1930s, there was a clear change in style. This new style found its full expression after moving to the Soviet Union, which is why this period is known as the "Soviet period". Prokofiev was convinced that he had to write music that fulfilled a social mission. This can be seen in the simplification of the harmonics and the clearer contours of the melodies. By paying more attention to the traditions of Russian folk music, his music became more understandable and accessible. He also consolidated the tonality and emphasized a sophisticated polyphony . During the Second World War , his tonal language became even sharper, which promptly led to the above-mentioned criticism in the party resolution "About the Opera The Great Friendship ". Prokofiev then simplified his style even further. His last works are characterized by wide melodies, a lyrical mood, quiet resignation and an almost romantic tone.

Today Prokofiev is considered an important composer and classic of the modern age . His work as a composer of film music was also significant . Alexander Newski is considered to be a key work in the history of film music, which has been analyzed many times. Prokofiev's score influenced and shaped the modern film music of the classical-romantic style, which created clear style copies especially in the last decades of the 20th century, often even using direct quotations from works by Prokofiev ( John Williams , James Horner ).

Max Reger , whose sophisticated art of modulation impressed Prokofiev when he visited St. Petersburg in 1906 , as well as his student friend Nikolai Myaskovsky , who always gave him his opinion on his latest works in extensive correspondence, and Prokofiev's judgment, had a certain influence on Prokofiev's compositional technique attached great importance. Overall, however, no composer can be named to whom Prokofiev was particularly oriented; rather, he created his own, new style and influenced many composers of the next generation.

Prokofiev wrote down all of his scores in C, i. H. sounding. For the cor anglais he mostly used the alto clef , as it was already to be found in Johann Sebastian Bach. He noted high notes in the treble clef. He proceeded similarly with the bassoon, which usually only contains the bass clef . In the respective prefaces he pointed out that the voices had to be transposed (usually Bb clarinets and bass clarinets, F horns and Bb trumpets). However, he notated the piccolo and double bass in the classic octave. He also consistently - like Max Reger and partly Shostakovich - always put the trumpets over the horns. He consistently avoided the tenor clef with the cellos. For high notes he used the treble clef ( loco ). The so-called 'C-Score' did not catch on everywhere; but was adopted more and more often (among others by Arthur Honegger, later by Alban Berg and Arnold Schönberg. The latter - Berg and Schönberg - however, noted the double bass in its real pitch).


The term “unpublished” used in this list refers to the sheet music, not to the work itself.

Stage works

  • Ala und Lolli , op.20, by S. Gorodetzki, unpublished, incomplete (1914/15)
  • Le chout ("The Fool"), op. 21, ballet in six scenes, Sergei Prokofjew after Alexander Nikolayevich Afanassjew (1915), revised (1920)
  • Trapeze , op.39, ballet in one act (1924, music lost)
  • Le pas d'acier ("The Steel Step"), op. 41, ballet in two scenes, Sergei Prokofjew and Georgi Bogdanowitsch Jakulow (1925/26)
  • L'enfant prodigue ("The Prodigal Son"), op. 46, ballet in three acts, Boris Kochno (1928/29)
  • Sur le Borysthène (“On the Dnieper”), op. 51, ballet in two scenes, Sergei Prokofjew and Sergei Lifar (1930/31)
  • Romeo and Juliet , op.64, ballet in three acts, Sergei Prokofjew after William Shakespeare (1935/36)
  • Cinderella ("Cinderella"), op. 87, ballet in three acts, N. Wolkow (1940–1944)
  • The fairy tale of the stone flower , op. 118, ballet in four acts, Leonid Lavrowski and Mira Mendelson after Pawel Baschow (1948–1953)
Incidental music

Orchestral works

Other orchestral works
  • Rêves ("Dreams"), op. 6, symphonic poem (1910)
  • Esquisse automnale ("Autumn"), symphonic sketch (1910), revised (1915 and 1935)
  • Suite from Ala and Lolli (" Scythian Suite "), op. 20 (1915)
  • Suite from Le chout ("The Fool"), op. 21 (1920)
  • Andante from Piano Sonata No. 4 (1934)
  • Suite from Love for the Three Oranges , op.33 (1919), revised (1924)
  • Overture on Hebrew Themes, op.34 (1934)
  • Suite from Le pas d'acier (“The Steel Step”), op. 41 (1926)
  • American Overture for 17 Instruments, op. 42, unpublished (1926–1928)
  • Divertimento, op. 43 (1925–1929)
  • Suite from L'enfant prodigue ("The Prodigal Son"), op. 46 (1929)
  • Four portraits and finals from The Player , op.49 (1931)
  • Andante from the string quartet No. 1, unpublished (ca.1930)
  • Suite from Am Dnieper , op.51 (1933)
  • Symphonic Singing , op.57, unpublished (1933)
  • Suite from Lieutenant Kishe , op. 60, baritone ad lib. (1934)
  • Suite from Egyptian Nights , op.61 (1934)
  • Suite No. 1 from Romeo and Juliet , op.64 (1936)
  • Suite No. 2 from Romeo and Juliet , op.64 (1936)
  • A Summer's Day , op.65, children's suite (1941)
  • Four marches for wind orchestra, op. 69 (1935–1937)
  • Russian Overture , op.72, unpublished (1936), revised (1937)
  • Suite from Semjon Kotko , op.81 (1941)
  • Symphonic March in B flat major, op.88, unpublished (1941)
  • March in A flat major for wind orchestra, op.89 (1941)
  • Suite The Year 1941 , op.90, unpublished (1941)
  • March in B flat major, op.99 (1943–1944)
  • Suite No. 3 from Romeo and Juliet , op.101 (1946)
  • Ode to the end of the war for wind instruments, 8 harps, 4 pianos, percussion, double bass, op.105, unpublished (1945)
  • Suite No. 1 from Cinderella , op.107 (1946)
  • Suite No. 2 from Cinderella , op.108 (1946)
  • Suite No. 3 from Cinderella , op.109, third piece from The Love for the Three Oranges (1946)
  • Waltz Suite, op.110 (1946)
  • Thirty Years , op.113, festival poem on the 30th anniversary of the October Revolution (1947)
  • Pushkin Waltz , op.120, unpublished (1949)
  • Midsummer Night's Suite , op.123, from The Engagement in the Monastery (1950)
  • Wedding Suite , op.126, from The Fairy Tale of the Stone Flower (1951)
  • Gypsy Fantasy , op.127, from The Fairy Tale of the Stone Flower , unpublished (1951)
  • Ural Rhapsody , op.128, from The fairy tale of the stone flower , unpublished (1951)
  • The Mistress of the Copper Mountain , op.129, from The Fairy Tale of the Stone Flower , not executed (1951)
  • The Encounter between Volga and Don , op.130, Festpoem (1951)

Works for solo instrument and orchestra

Chamber music

Piano works

Works for two hands
Early works without opus number
  • Indian gallop in F major (1896)
  • March in C major (1896)
  • Waltz in C major (1896)
  • Rondo in C major (1896)
  • March in B major / D major (1897)
  • Polka in G major (1899)
  • Waltz in G major (1899)
  • Waltz in C major / G major (1899)
  • March (1900)
  • 7 pieces (1901)
  • Ditties , Series I, twelve pieces (1902)
  • Bagatelle in A minor (1902)
  • Ditties , Series II, twelve pieces (1902)
  • Sonata No. 1 in A minor (1903)
  • Ditties , Series III, twelve pieces (1903/04)
  • Variations on Chishika (1904)
  • Ditties , Series IV, twelve pieces (1905)
  • Polka mélancholique in F sharp minor (1905)
  • Ditties , Series V, twelve pieces (1906)
  • Song without words in D flat major (1907)
  • Intermezzo in A major (1907)
  • Oriental song in G minor (1907)
  • Sonata No. 2 in F minor, processed in Op. 1 (1907)
  • Sonata No. 3 in A minor, processed in op.28 (1907)
  • Four pieces, revised as op. 3 (1908)
  • Sonata No. 4 (1907-08)
  • Four pieces, revised as op.4 (1908)
  • Sonata No. 5, processed in op.29 (1908)
  • Examination joint (1908)
  • Andante in C minor, incomplete (1908)
  • Two pieces (1908)
  • Etude in C minor (1908)
  • Pieces about Es-CHE (1908)
  • Sonata No. 6, lost (around 1908/09)
Works for two hands
Works with opus number
  • Sonata No. 1 in F minor, op. 1, based on Sonata No. 2 (1909)
  • Four Etudes, op. 2 (1909)
  • Four pieces, op.3, revision of the four pieces from 1907/08 (1911)
  • Four pieces, op. 4, revision of the four pieces from 1908 (1910–1912)
  • Toccata in D minor, op.11 (1912)
  • Ten pieces, op. 12 (1906–1913)
  • Sonata No. 2 in D minor, op.14 (1912)
  • Sarcasms , op. 17 (1912–1914)
  • Fleeting Visions (Visions fugitives), op. 22 (1915–1917)
  • Sonata No. 3 in A minor, op.28 (from old books), after Sonata (No. 3) (1917)
  • Sonata No. 4 in C minor, op.29 (from old books), after Sonata (No. 5) and Symphony in E minor (1917)
  • The fairy tales of the old grandmother , op.31 (1918)
  • Four pieces, op.32 (1918)
  • March and Scherzo from Love for the Three Oranges , op.33 (1922)
  • Sonata No. 5 in C major, op.38, revised as op.135 (1923)
  • Divertimento, op.43 (1938)
  • Things in themselves , op.45, two pieces (1928)
  • Six pieces, op.52 (1930/31)
  • Two sonatinas, op.54, E minor and G major (1931/32)
  • Three pieces, op. 59 (1933/34)
  • Thoughts (Pensées) , op.62 (1933/34)
  • Children's music , op.65, twelve pieces (1935)
  • Ten pieces from Romeo and Juliet , op.75 (1937)
  • Gavotte, op. 77 (1938)
  • Sonata No. 6 in A major, op.82 (1939/40)
  • Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, op.83 (1939–1942)
  • Sonata No. 8 in B flat major, op.84 (1939–1944)
  • Three pieces from Cinderella , op.95 (1942)
  • Three pieces, op. 96 (1941–1942)
  • Ten pieces from Cinderella , op.97 (1943)
  • Two pieces from Cinderella , op.102 (1944)
  • Sonata No. 9 in C major, op.103 (1947)
  • Sonata No. 5 in C major, op.135 (1952/53)
  • Sonata No. 10 in C minor, op.137, unpublished, incomplete
  • Sonata No. 11, op. 138, not performed
  • Dumka , unpublished (after 1933)

Works for 4 hands

  • March in C major (1897)
  • March in C major (1899)
  • March in F major (1899)
  • Piece in F major (1899)
  • Piece in D minor (1900)
  • Piece with zither, incomplete (1900)
  • Bagatelle No. 1 in C minor (1901)

Vocal works

Vocal works with orchestra
  • Two poems (by K. Balmont) for female choir and orchestra, op.7, unpublished (1909/10)
  • The Ugly Duckling for voice and orchestra, op.18 (1923)
  • Cantata Es sind ihr Sieben ( Chaldean Conjuration ) for tenor, mixed choir and large orchestra, op. 30 (1917/18), revised (1933)
  • Mélodie for voice and orchestra, op.35 (around 1920)
  • Suite from Der fierige Engel for voice and orchestra, op.37, unpublished, incomplete (1923)
  • Peter and the Wolf for narrator and orchestra, op.67, Symphonic fairy tale for children (1936)
  • Cantata for the 20th anniversary of the October Revolution for two choirs, orchestra, wind orchestra, accordion orchestra and percussion, op.74 (texts by Marx, Lenin and Stalin, 1936/37)
  • Songs of Our Days for solo voices, choir and orchestra, op.76 (1937)
  • Cantata Alexander Newski for mezzo-soprano, choir and orchestra, op.78 (texts by Wladimir Lugowskoi and S. Prokofjew, 1937)
  • Toast (Heil Stalin) for choir and orchestra, op.85 (1939)
  • Ballad from the unknown boy for soprano, tenor, choir and orchestra, op.93, unpublished (1942/43)
  • Blossom 'on, mighty' fatherland op.114, cantata for the 30th anniversary of the October Revolution by Yevgeny Dolmatovsky (1947)
  • Winter Campfire , op.122, Suite after Samuil Marschak for speaker, boys' choir and orchestra (1949/50)
  • Auf Friedenswacht , op.124, oratorio based on Samuil Marschak for mezzo-soprano, speaker, choir, boys' choir and orchestra (1950)
Choral works
  • Two mass songs for voice and piano, op.66a (1935)
  • Four songs for one voice or one-part choir and piano, op.66b (1935)
  • Seven mass songs and march for voice and piano, op. 89 (1941), nos. 1, 2 and 7 unpublished
  • National Anthem , op. 98, based on S. Michalkow and El-Registan (1943)
  • All Union hymn based on S. Stschipachev, unpublished, incomplete (1946)
  • Soldiers March Song, op.121, based on W. Lugowskoi (1950)
Songs for voice and piano
  • Juvenilia . unpublished (1903–1907)
  • Two poems, op.9 (1910/11)
  • The Ugly Duckling , op.18, after Hans Christian Andersen (1914)
  • Five poems, op.23 (1915)
  • Five poems, op.27, by A. Akhmatova (1916)
  • Five songs without words , op.35 (1920)
  • Five poems, op.36, by K. Balmont (1921)
  • Five Kazakh Folk Tunes (1927)
  • Two songs from Lieutenant Kishe , op. 60, after J. Tynjanow (1934)
  • Three children's songs , op.68 (1936)
  • Three Romances , op.73, after A. Pushkin (1936)
  • Three songs from Alexander Newski , op.78, after W. Lugowskoi (1939)
  • Seven songs, op.79 (1939)
  • Twelve Russian Folk Songs , op.104 (1944)
  • Two Duets, op.106, arrangements of Russian folk songs for tenor, bass and piano (1944)
  • Vom Wels , according to S. Michalkow, unpublished, incomplete

Other works

Film music



  • Gymnastics music , unpublished, incomplete (around 1936)


  • The Wandering Tower , German first publication, Edition Elke Heidenreich by C. Bertelsmann, 2012, ISBN 978-3-570-58034-9 .

Awards and honors

In 1944 he was awarded the gold medal (Gold Medal) of the London Royal Philharmonic Society . Overall, Prokofiev received the Stalin Prize six times and the Lenin Prize once . Prokofiev received the Stalin Prize (Second Class) in 1943 for the Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, op. 83, and the Stalin Prize (First Class) in 1946 for his Fifth Symphony, the Piano Sonata No. 8 and the Cinderella Ballet.

From 1933 Prokofiev was an honorary professor at the Moscow Conservatory , and from 1947 he became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music .

The Donetsk International Airport is, or was, at least until its destruction 2014/2015 Donetsk International Airport Sergey Prokofiev .

Reception in pop and film music

  • "Arise, you Russian people" from Alexander Nevsky is the song "Mother Russia" by Iron Maiden is based
  • Lieutenant Kishe Suite , op. 60, was used variously in later works of popular music and film art:
  • In addition, Emerson, Lake and Palmer used parts from Romeo and Juliet , op. 64, for their song of the same name and the second movement of the Scythian Suite , op. 20, for “The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits”.
  • The British band Muse used an excerpt from the " Dance of the Knights " from Romeo and Juliet as an intro and transition to their song "Knights of Cydonia" at a concert in London's Wembley Stadium .


  • Sigrid Neef : Sergei Prokofiev's operas (= Prokofiev Studies , 7; Studia slavica musicologica , 45). Verlag Ernst Kuhn, Berlin 2009.
  • Eckart Kröplin : Early Soviet Opera. Shostakovich, Prokofiev . Henschelverlag Art and Society, Berlin 1985. DNB 870672428.
  • Friedbert Streller: Sergej Prokofjew and his time. Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1953, 1960; Laaber-Verlag, Laaber 2003. ISBN 3-936000-63-8 .
  • Maria Biesold: Sergej Prokofjew, composer in the shadow of Stalin. Quadriga-Verlag, Weinheim 1996. ISBN 3-88679-271-4 .
  • Thomas Schipperges: Sergej Prokofjew . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1995; 2nd, improved edition 2005. ISBN 978-3-499-50516-4 .
  • Ulrich Wünschel: Sergej Prokofiev's film music for Sergej Eisenstein's “Alexander Newski”. Wolke-Verlag, Hofheim / Taunus 2005. ISBN 3-936000-63-8 .
  • Simon Morrison: The love and wars of Lina Prokofiev . Harvill Secker, London 2013. ISBN 978-1-84655-731-6 .
  • Natalja Pavlovna Sawkina: Sergei Sergejewitsch Prokofjew . Schott, Piper, Mainz 1993, ISBN 978-3-7957-8281-8 .
  • Hermann Danuser, Juri Cholopow, Michail Tarakanow (eds.): Sergej Prokofjew . Festival on the occasion of the composer's 100th birthday. Laaber, Duisburg 1991, ISBN 3-89007-227-5 .

Web links

Commons : Sergei Prokofiev  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Programs of the ISCM World Music Days from 1922 to the present day
  2. ^ Anton Haefeli: The International Society for New Music - Your History from 1922 to the Present. Zurich 1982, p. 480ff
  3. On the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, the work was performed by the Staatskapelle Weimar, the Ernst Senff Choir Berlin and members of the Air Force Music Corps Erfurt - see announcement ( Memento from August 5, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) - and published on CD on the Audite label.
  4. ^ Recipient of the RPS gold medal from 1901 on the Royal Philharmonic Society website.
  5. Simon Morrison: The People's Artist: Prokofiev's Soviet Years. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2009, ISBN 978-0-19-518167-8 , p. 164.
  6. ^ Sergey Prokofiev - Moscow Conservatory. Retrieved March 27, 2018 (Russian).
  7. ^ Image of the Donetsk International Airport Sergey Prokofiev