mphil Logo - zur Startseite

Sergei Prokofiev

When Sergei Prokofiev died in Moscow on March 5, 1953 - the same day as Josef Stalin - he left behind an extensive body of work, of which his musical fairy tale "Peter and the Wolf", his first symphony, subtitled "Symphonie Classique", and his ballet "Romeo and Juliet" enjoy great popularity to this day. Although the catalogue of Prokofiev's works seems somewhat heterogeneous on first sight - besides literature operas we find scores for historical films, besides intimate chamber music propagandistic commissioned works, besides radically modern works pieces of almost classical simplicity and accessibility - all his compositions are marked by a typical personal style, which made Prokofiev, along with Dmitry Shostakovitch, one of the most significant composers of the Soviet Union. And like Shostakovitch, Prokofiev's relationship with official Soviet culture was a broken one: in 1948, accused by the Communist Party of internationalism and formalism, Prokofiev moved more and more from an aggressively modern style of composition to a conservative traditionalism, which largely tread the narrow path between the demanded and the tolerated. In any event, it was less æsthetic theories that moved him in this direction but rather the question of where music should derive its societal legimation from. And his appealing musical language of "new simplicity", as he described it himself, seemed to him to be somewhat in agreement with the æsthetic doctrine of Soviet realism - far more suited to reach an audience than the hard dissonances of his earlier works.