'...a thoroughly researched and well-balanced appraisal of Prokofiev's life and works, beautifully presented in tandem with some fascinating and previously unavailable photographic illustrations. Jaffe handles the very difficult task of interweaving narrative and discussion of the works with commendable aplomb...surely one of the best written books in Phaidon's series.' (Classic CD) '...an extensive biography of one of the 20th century's foremost composers. Daniel Jaffe...has combined an intimate portrait outlining the life and social circle of Sergey Prokofiev with a full account of the political climate that shaped his career.' (Bath Chronicle) 'Here is an excellent introduction to the life, character and music of a man Jaffe rightly describes as one of the best loved yet least known of all 20th century composers.' (BBC Music Magazine) 'In the same series comes Daniel Jaffe's Sergey Prokofiev, concise but remarkably rich in detail about the life of this enigmatic Russian composer whose death was overshadowed by that of Stalin on the same day.' (Birmingham Post) '...Jaffe...brings insight into how Prokofiev's life and work intertwined... reliable...a clear introduction to the composer.' (SCRSS [Society of co-operation of Russian & Soviet Studies]) 'Among modern composer-biographies, Daniel Jaffe's Prokofiev (Phaidon, GBP14.95) stands out as exemplary.' (The Independent Weekend Review) 'As a series, Phaidon's 20th Century Composers has brought remarkable variety and a welter of information, both necessary and delightfully trivial. Intended both for the general reader and for the more enthusiatically musical...' (The Scotsman)
This is a comprehensive, illustrated biography for the music enthusiast of the Russian composer and pianist Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953) who composed some of this century's most widely loved music, be it the ballet "Romeo and Juliet", his work for children "Peter and the Wolf", or the march from his opera "The Love for Three Oranges". Yet paradoxically, due to his itinerant lifestyle and the secrecy that cloaked his final years in the USSR, he remains one of the least understood musicians of this century. Born in an isolated rural estate in the Ukraine, Prokofiev studied at the St Petersburg Conservatory and soon gained notoriety as a gifted "enfant terrible" with his fiery piano-playing and "modern" compositions. He became friends with many of Russia's leading cultural figures including Maxim Gorky, but equally crucial, though stormy, were his relationships with the great impresario Sergey Diaghilev and fellow-composer Igor Stravinsky, who both admired and were wary of Prokofiev's precocious talent.
Prokofiev left Russia in the wake of the 1917 Revolution, and bedazzled western audiences with his hard-edged, virtuoso performances on the piano and exuberantly colourful scores including "The Love for Three Oranges", his Third Piano Concerto and the three ballets he wrote for Diaghilev - "Chout", "Le Pas d'Acier" and "The Prodigal Son". He then astonished the world by returning the the USSR in 1936 at the height of Stalin's notorious purges. Initially cosseted and feted by the Soviet state, Prokofiev was profoundly shaken by the arrest of several leading cultural figures as well as some of his friends. Against this terrible background Prokofiev composed some of his greatest scores, the First Violin Sonata and his Symphonies Nos.5 and 6, before he himself was berated for writing anti-Soviet "formalist" music in 1948. Demoralized, and suffering poor health, Prokofiev died five years later, ironically on the same evening as his chief persecutor, Joseph Stalin. This comprehensive biography, which contains several hitherto unpublished illustrations, combines an intimate portrait of Prokofiev and his circle with a lucid account of the political events that shaped his career.
His works - wild, brilliant, lyrical, sometimes unashamedly over-the-top - are revealed as inseparable from the political background to their composition. This text is part of the 20th-century composers series, examining composers in a biographical context, and offering a comprehensive study of key figures in the creation of 20th-century music. None of the books in the series presume a knowledge of specialized terms or musical notation. Each book in the series features a list of works, a bibliography, and a discography.