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Serge Prokofiev
April 1, 2018
Serge Prokofiev, composer of the score for the ballet Cinderella

Serge Prokofiev or Sergueï Sergueïevitch Prokofiev (1891-1953 ) is a Russian composer of classical music, a pianist and a conductor. Recognized as an avant-garde artist for his time, he created various musical works ranging from concertos to symphonies, ballet music to film scores and operas. He is known for creating the music of the ballet Romeo & Juliet.

Cinderella and Surrounding Years

The years 1945-1947 saw the completion and creation of several works sketched out in previous years: 5th Symphony, the Cinderella ballet (Bolshoi theater, November 1945) and the first part of War and Peace (Leningrad Maly Theater, June 1946). In 1947, simultaneously to creating two works of circumstance for the thirtieth anniversary of the Revolution, Poème de Fête and Fleuris, Almighty Country, Prokofiev composed his 9th and last sonata, dedicated to Richter, which marks a certain stripping of language. The same year he obtained the title of People's Artist of the RSFSR, but this distinction does not protect him from the formidable attacks that he underwent the following year, as part of an unprecedented antiformalist campaign launched by Andrei Zhdanov and reaching the biggest names in Soviet music: Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Miaskovsky, Kabalevsky. A whole series of works by Prokofiev were condemned, especially those from his occidental period (Chout, The Steel Step, The Prodigal Son, The Angel of Fire), and even some Soviet works, including his 8th Sonata.

Forced to express self-criticism, the composer nevertheless drew attention to those of his works that escaped condemnation: Romeo and Juliet, Alexander Nevsky, 5th Symphony. But, a few months later, the censorship refuses his new opera Story of a real man, inspired by the heroic life of a Soviet aviator during the war. Despite a precarious state of health due to hypertension, Prokofiev devoted all his energy to the composition. From 1946 on, he spent every summer in his country house Nikolina Gora, not far from Moscow. In 1950, he wrote Garde de la paix, a work with which he redeemed himself in the eyes of the regime. His last major works are the sonata for piano and cello written for Rostropovich and Richter, his 7th symphony and especially the ballet The Tale of the Stone Flower; inspired by the legends of the Urals and created in Moscow in 1954. It was in Moscow that Prokofiev died on March 5, 1953, on the same day as Stalin.

Putting Words into Dance
1, 2018
Cinderella Ballet