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Sergei Prokofiev

Composer

Prokofiev was born in 1891 in Ukraine and is considered one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century.

He showed precocious talent as a pianist and composer and had lessons from Glier in 1902. In 1904 he entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyadov and Tcherepnin were among his teachers. He made his d├ębut as a pianist in 1908, quickly creating a sensation as an enfant terrible, unintelligible and ultra-modern – an image he was happy to cultivate. In 1914 he travelled to London, where he heard Stravinsky’s works and gained a commission from Diaghilev. The resulting score was, however, rejected (the music was used to make the Scythian Suite); a second attempt, Chout, was not staged until 1921.

Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet was commissioned for the Bolshoi, but had its premiere in Czechoslovakia 1938, and only later became a staple of Soviet repertory following its Russian premiere at the Kirov in Leningrad in 1940. He also worked on a new full-length ballet, Cinderella. In 1946 he retired to the country suffering from ill health and though he went on composing, the works of his last years have been regarded as a quier coda to his output. He died on 5 March 1953.