Music: Prokofiev

I love classical music. I’ve been immersed in it for as long as I can remember. I particularly like the early 20th century Russian composers. Prokofiev falls into this group. Fair enough, Prokofiev was born in Ukraine, but his education and maturation really took place in Russia.

He was one of those infuriatingly talented children, playing piano with his mother when he was only 3, and showing “unusual” musical talent as early as age 5. He was playing chess aged 7 (another typically Russian phenomenon). He was already composing his first opera when he was only 9. Then, with some professional teaching and guidance from Reinhold Glière, he started composing a symphony at age 11. Age 13 saw him enter the St Petersburg Conservatory… You can see where this is going.


Whilst there, he studied under one of my other favourites, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, but unfortunately he died when Prokofiev was only 17. Prokofiev expressed real regret at not being able to study under him for longer.

Like all the best of them, Prokofiev was ahead of his time – he had a bit of a reputation for being a bit of a rebel, and his forward-looking works were considered positively scandalous, with their dissonance and chromaticism. He was a bit of a rock-star of his time, I suppose.

He travelled a lot. He hob nobbed with a lot of geniuses of his age. He was even on a stamp in 1991 (to commemorate his centenary). And he died on the same day as Joseph Stalin. Super – Sergei Prokofiev, 1891-1953.

My first proper introduction to Prokofiev was when I played his Lieutenant Kijé suite with the National Children’s Orchestra. That was many years ago, but I won’t forget it. I mainly wanted to mention Prokofiev today because his Troika from his Lieutenant Kijé suite is Christmas Incarnate. I don’t know why I’m so Christmas-happy this year, but I am; hope you’re getting in to the spirit, too. Maybe the Troika will help – enjoy!





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