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Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (/prɵˈkɒfiɛv/; Russian: Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев, tr. Sergej Sergeevič Prokof'ev; 23 April 1891 – 5 March 1953) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor. As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous musical genres, he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His works include five piano concertos, nine completed piano sonatas and seven symphonies, and such widely heard works as the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet – from which "Dance of the Knights" is taken – and Peter and the Wolf.

A graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory, Prokofiev initially made his name as an iconoclastic composer-pianist, achieving notoriety with a series of ferociously dissonant and virtuosic works for his instrument, including his first two piano concertos. In 1915 Prokofiev made a decisive break from the standard composer-pianist category with his orchestral Scythian Suite, compiled from music originally composed for a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes; Diaghilev commissioned three further ballets from Prokofiev – Chout, Le pas d'acier and The Prodigal Son – which at the time of their original production all caused a sensation among both critics and colleagues. Prokofiev's greatest interest, however, was opera, and he composed several works in that genre, including The Gambler and The Fiery Angel. Prokofiev's one relative success in that genre during his lifetime was The Love for Three Oranges, composed for Chicago Opera and subsequently performed over the following decade in Europe and Russia.

After the Revolution, Prokofiev left Russia with the official blessing of the Soviet minister Anatoly Lunacharsky, and he resided in the United States, then Germany, then Paris, making his living as a composer, pianist and conductor. During that time he married a Spanish singer, Carolina Codina, with whom he had two sons. In the early 1930s Prokofiev faced decreasing opportunities for his ballets and operas to be staged in America and western Europe due to the Great Depression. Prokofiev, who regarded himself as primarily a composer, resented the time taken by touring as a pianist, and increasingly turned to Soviet Russia for commissions of new music; he eventually returned to his homeland with his family in 1936. He enjoyed some success there – notably with Lieutenant Kijé, Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps above all with Alexander Nevsky. The Nazi invasion of the USSR spurred him to compose his most ambitious work, an operatic version of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. In 1948 Prokofiev was criticized for "anti-democratic formalism", and with his income severely curtailed was forced to compose Stalinist works such as On Guard for Peace. However, he also enjoyed personal and artistic support from a new generation of Russian performers, notably Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich: for the latter he composed his Symphony-Concerto, whilst for the former he composed his ninth piano sonata.

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Discography

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Album

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1939 Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67 Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев; Richard Hale, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Сергей Александрович Кусевицкий 3
1967 Prokofiev: Klavierkonzert Nr. 3 C-Dur / Ravel: Klavierkonzert G-Dur Prokofiev, Ravel; Martha Argerich, Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado 4
1973 Peter und der Wolf (feat. conductor: Herbert Kegel, narrator: Rolf Ludwig) / Orchesterführer für junge Leute Prokofiev / Britten 3
1974 Mies Bouwman vertelt Peter en de wolf op muziek van Sergei Prokofjef Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев 1
1974 Music for Cello and Piano Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев, David Ward-Steinman; Edgar Lustgarten, John Williams 2
1975 Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf and Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals Sergey Prokofiev, Camille Saint-Saëns; Wiener Philharmoniker, Karl Böhm, Hermione Gingold 1
1976 Mussorgsky: Bilder einer Ausstellung / Prokofieff: Symphonie Classique Mussorgsky, Prokofieff; Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini 1
1980 Symphony no. 5 Prokofiev; Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein 1
1982 Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik / Grieg: Holberg Suite / Prokofiev: Symphonie Classique Mozart, Grieg, Prokofiev; Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan 1
1982 Premières oeuvres (feat. piano: Abdel Rahman El Bacha) Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев 2
1982 Romeo and Juliet: Suite No.1, Op. 64b / Suite No. 2, Op. 64c (Philadephia Orchestra feat. conductor: Riccardo Muti) Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев 1
1983 Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit / Prokofiev: Piano Sonata no. 6 Ravel, Prokofiev; Ivo Pogorelich 1
1983 Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 / Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet Suite No. 1 (National Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Mstislav Rostropovich) Shostakovich / Prokofiev 1
1984 Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev; Martha Argerich 1
1984 Alexander Nevsky (Cleveland Orchestra, conductor: Riccardo Chailly) Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев 2
1984 Piano Concertos Bartók / Prokofiev 1
1984 Prokofiev - Lieutenant Kije Suite, Love for Three Oranges Suite / Stravinsky - Suites Nos. 1 and 2 for Small Orchestra (Dallas Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Eduardo Mata) Prokofiev / Stravinsky 1
1984 The Violin Concertos Serge Prokofiev; Shlomo Mintz, Claudio Abbado, Chicago Symphony Orchestra 1
1985 Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 5 Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev; Sviatoslav Richter, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Stanisław Wisłocki, Witold Rowicki 1
1985 Cinderella Prokofiev; The Cleveland Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy 1
1985 Symphony no. 1 in D, op. 25 "Classical" / Symphony no. 4, op. 112 Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1985 Symphony no. 2 in D minor, op. 40 / Romeo and Juliet: Suite no. 1 Sergei Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 2
1985 Symphony no. 3 in C minor, op. 44 / Symphony no. 4, op. 47 Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 2
1985 Symphony No. 6 in E-flat minor, Op. 111 / Three Waltzes, Op. 110 Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1986 Romeo and Juliet Suite no. 2, op. 64 / Dreams, op. 6 / Pushkiniana Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 2
1986 Symphony No. 5 in B-flat, Op. 100 / Three Waltzes, Op. 110 Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1986 Symphony no. 7 in C-sharp minor, op. 131 / Sinfonietta, op. 5/48 Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 2
1987 Alexander Nevsky / Lieutenant Kije Prokofiev; Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, André Previn 1
1987 Romeo & Juliet, op. 64 (complete recording) Prokofiev; Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa 1
1987 Peter & The Wolf / Cinderella Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, Lina Prokofiev 1
1987 Peter Und Der Wolf Kindersymphonie Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев & Leopold Mozart 1
1987 Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 3 / Prokofiev: Concerto No. 3 Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev; Van Cliburn 4
1987 Romeo & Juliet (Highlights) Prokofiev; Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa 1
1987 Sinfonia Concertante / Romeo and Juliet Suite no. 3 Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, Raphael Wallfisch 1
1987 Songs: Five Poems, op. 27 / Five Poems, op. 36 / Three Romances, op. 73 / Two Poems, op. 9 Sergey Prokofiev; Carole Farley, Arkady Aronov 1
1987 Symphony no. 5 / Dreams Prokofiev; Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy 1
1988 Alexander Nevsky / Scythian Suite Sergey Prokofiev; Linda Finnie, SNO Chorus, Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1988 Prokofiev: Symphonie concertante / Shostakovich: Concerto pour violincelle No. 1 (London Symphonie Orchestra, feat. conductor: Seiji Ozawa, violincello: Mstislav Rostropovich) Prokofiev / Shostakovich 1
1988 Violin Concertos nos. 1 & 2 Prokofiev; Dmitry Sitkovetsky, London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis 1
1989 Violin Concertos: No. 1 in D major, Op. 19 / No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63 Sergey Prokofiev; Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, Lydia Mordkovitch 1
1989 Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 2 Prokofiev; Isaac Stern, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy 1
1989 Peter und der Wolf Serge Prokofieff, Leopold Mozart; Karlheinz Böhm 1
1989 Alexander Nevsky / Lieutenant Kijé / Russlan & Ludmila (Overture) Prokofiev, Glinka; Chicago Symphony, Fritz Reiner 1
1989 Legendary Conductors: Dimitri Mitropoulos (New York Philharmonic Orchestra) Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев 1
1989 Piano Concerto No. 3 (Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Andrey Chistyakov, piano: Evgeny Kissin) Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев 1
1989 Prokofiev Goes to the Movies Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев 1
1989 Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf / Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Serge Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten; Lorin Maazel, Alec Clunes 2
1989 Romeo and Juliet Suites Nos. 1, 2 (Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra feat. conductor: Mariss Jansons) Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев 4 1
1989 Shostakovich / Prokofiev Cello Sonatas Дмитрий Дмитриевич Шостакович, Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев; Lynn Harrell, Vladimir Ashkenazy 1
1989 Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 / Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 Shostakovich, Prokofiev; Viktoria Mullova, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, André Previn 1

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