"Particularly interesting passages concern the composer's meetings with Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Serge Koussevitzky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff; deeply personal reflections on Prokofiev's own life and desires; and appealing trivia about composing, rehearsing, and dealing with the politics of the conservatory. Phillips has produced a readable translation in idiomatic English. This wonderfully detailed view inside the mind of a twentieth-century heavyweight is recommended for public and academic libraries."-Library Journal, February 1, 2007 "The diaries are a revelation ... Their strengths are their lively prose and clarity, their capacity to recreate the atmosphere of place and time, and their flair for dialogue, qualities happily maintained in Anthony Phillips's excellent translation... The climax of the first volume of Prokofiev's diaries is a fascinating account of the composer's triumph in the prestigious Rubinstein Prize, the piano competition for students graduating from the Conservatory, with a performance of his Second Piano Concerto, in April 1914. It was the only occasion in the history of the St. Petersburg Conservatory that a student graduated with a performance of his own concerto."-Orlando Figes, New York Review of Books, May 10, 2007 "Phillips has translated the vast Russian text into English and produced exhaustive annotations, critical for following the panoply of people and events within the composer's purview... An acute observer and a gifted writer, Prokofiev had a fascinating life; even without an intentional narrative, the book makes for compelling reading... As a composer-diarist, he now sits with Berlioz in the first rank. The current volume and its two predecessors are indispensable for any library with a music collection. Summing Up: Highly recommended."-B.J. Murray, Choice (September 2013) "It was my good fortune to have been a close acquaintance of the genius Sergey Prokofiev. Before coming to know him personally I knew many of his works and admired him without reservation as a composer, but after 1948 and until his death we met very frequently indeed. He was a man of unique character: candid, possessed of an exceptionally penetrating wit and deeply held convictions. The publication of his Diaries, first in Russian and now in English, is a great event. We must be grateful to those who have made this possible and who have thereby revealed to us the life of one of the greatest composers and men of the twentieth century."-Mstislav Rostropovich
When he left Russia following the 1917 Revolution, Prokofiev's diaries were recovered from the family flat in Petrograd and later hidden (at considerable personal risk by Myaskovsky). Prokofiev himself smuggled them out of the country after his first return to the Soviet Union in 1927. The later diaries, written in the West, were brought back by legal decree after the composer's death, to be kept in a special, inaccessible section of the Russian State Archive. Eventually Prokofiev's son, Sviatoslav was allowed to transcribe the voluminous contents; when he and his son Sergei eventually emigrated to Paris they undertook the gigantic task of reproducing the partially encoded manuscript in an intelligible form. Volume 1 covers the bulk of the Prokofiev's years at the St Petersburg Conservatoire ending with his triumphant graduation.
Simultaneously attached to and exasperated by the traditions exemplified at this time by such famous men as Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov, Lyadov, Tcherepnin, the relentlessly brash young genius relishes the power of his talent to irritate, challenge and finally overcome the establishment, alongside unusually candid revelations of the all-too-normal preoccupations of a young man flexing his muscles in society.
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