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Masters of Russian Music 

By M. D. Calvocoressi and Gerald Abraham 

Lively, scholarly, and authoritative portraits of fourteen 
Russian composers from Glinka and Dargomyjsky to Glazunof 
and Scriabin. 

My Musical Life 

By Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov 

A completely revised, re-edited, and reset edition of one 
of the most revealing and fruitful of composers' autobiographies. 

Dmitri Shostakovich 

By Victor Seroff 

The first biography in English of the world-famed young 
Soviet composer: personal, detailed, and authentic. 


By Herbert Weinstock 

The first complete biography of the Russian composer, 
based on new and revealing material. 



Sergei Prokofiev 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries 


His Musical Life 






Translated from the Russian by ROSE PROKOFIEVA 
Introduction by SERGEI EISENSTEIN 


ft]L HlO 


Copyright 1946 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of 
this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing 
from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages 
or reproduce not more than three illustrations in a review to be printed 
in a magazine or newspaper. 

Manufactured in the United States of America 




.N writing this brief review of the life and work of Sergei 
Prokofiev, I have set myself the task not so much of making 
an exhaustive analysis of his music as of briefly reviewing the 
most significant of his works and of making a few cursory re- 
marks concerning the principal features of his style. 

The bulk of this book was written in 1941 to mark Proko- 
fiev's fiftieth birthday. After spending a year at the front I re- 
turned to Moscow on leave. During the time I spent in Mos- 
cow I was able to make a few additions dealing with Prokofiev's 
work during the war. 

I have freely drawn on the composer's Autobiography, writ- 
ten in 1941 for Sovietskaya Muzyka, on my own personal meet- 
ings with him, and on a large number of reviews published 
both in Russia and abroad. My acknowledgments are due to 
Nikolai Miaskovsky, Boris Asafyev (Igor Glebov), Konstantin 
S. Saradzhev, V. V. Derzhanovsky, V. M. Morolev, L. V. Niko- 
layev, N. E. Dobychina, Reinhold Gliere, and Abraham Spi- 
vakovsky, who have assisted me on a number of points of in- 
formation. My thanks are also due to Grigori Shneerson, who 
has helped me in going through the foreign press, and N. P. 
Shastin, who has provided me with some unpublished mate- 

I. V. N. 


Index of Prokofiev Compositions 
mentioned in text 


Introduction by Sergei Eisenstein: P-R-K-F-V ix 

Introduction by the author xxi 

BOOK I. Early Years 

1. Childhood 


2. Years of Study 


3. Recognition 


4. Sturm und Drang 


5. Style 


BOOK II. Years of Wandering 

6. Inertia of the Past 


7. The Crisis 


BOOK III. Soviet Artist 

8. New Views 


9. Composition 


10. Maturity 


11. The War Years 


Catalogue of Prokofiev's Works 


General Index 





OU'LL have the music by noon. 

We leave the small projection-room. Although it is now 
midnight, I feel quite calm. At exactly 11.55 a.m. a small, dark 
blue automobile will come through the gate of the film studio. 

Sergei Prokofiev will emerge from the car. 

In his hands will be the necessarv piece of music. 

At night we look at the new sequence of film. 

By morning the new sequence of music will be ready for it. 

This is what happened recentlv when we worked on Alex- 
ander 'Se^'skx. 

And this happens now. as we work together on Ivan the 


Prokofiev works like a clock. 

This clock neither gains nor loses time. 

Like a sniper, it hits the verv heart of punctualitv. Proko- 
fiev's punctuality is not a matter of business pedantry. 

His exactness in time is a by-product of creative exactness. 

Of absolute exactness in musical imagerv. 

Of absolute exactness in transposing this imagerv into a 
mathematically exact means of expression, which Prokofiev 
has harnessed behind a bridle of hard steel. 

This is the exactness of Stendhal's laconic stvle translated 
into music. 

In crystal purity of expressive language Prokofiev is equaled 
only by Stendhal. 

Clarity of idea and purity of image, however, are not always 
sufficient to achieve the popular accessibility of a worn penny. 

A centurv ago Stendhal said: *7 C mets un bUlet dans unc 
loterie dont le gros lot se reduit a ccci: ctrv lu en io;>"; al- 
though it is hard for us now to believe that there was once an 



age that did not understand the transparency of Stendhal's 

Prokofiev is luckier. 

His works are not obliged to wait a hundred years. 

For many years he was not understood. 

Then he was accepted — as a curiosity. 

And only recently have they ceased to look askance at him. 

Now, both at home and abroad, Prokofiev has moved onto 
the broadest road of popular recognition. 

This process has been speeded by his contact with the 
cinema. Not merely because this contact popularized his crea- 
tive work through the subjects, the large number of prints, or 
the wide accessibility of the screen. 

But because Prokofiev's being consists in something below 
the surface appearance of the film medium — something simi- 
lar to that which an event must undergo in being broken up 
for its passage through the film process. 

First, the event must pass through the lens, in order that, 
in the aspect of a film image, pierced by the blinding beam of 
the projection-machine, it may begin to lead a new and magic 
life of its own on the white surface of the screen. 

One can see the early Prokofiev in the pictures produced by 
the most extreme tendencies of modern painting. 

Occasionally he reminds one of the elegantly audacious 

More often — of the early Picasso's harsh arrogance. 

Less often — of Rouault's frank coarseness. 

At the same time there is often something in him resembling 
the sculptured texture of a bas-relief. 

Fugitive Visions. Sarcasms. The Buffoon. 

Here, a jagged edge of tin; there, the oily coating on the 
lacquer of asphalt; here, the agonizing twists of a spiral, bounc- 
ing like a spring toward the observer. 

In their own various ways the "modern" painters sought, 



not a reflection of events, but a bared solution for the riddle 
of the structure of phenomena. 

They had to pay for their solution — with the sacrifice of the 
perceptible likeness of the object: all anecdotal quality in the 
object and all "integrated fact" gave way to the elements and 
their component parts, made tangible. 

The "city theme" is no longer an impressionist weaving of 
street sensations — now it becomes a conglomerate of citv ele- 
ments: iron, a newspaper page, black letters, glass. 

And this was young Prokofiev's road. 

It was in vain that Henri Monnet in Cahiers dart waxed 
ironical over the music of Le Pas deader: "It evokes thunder 
with thunder, a hammer-blow with a hammer-blow: fine stvli- 

It was the verv lies of stvlization from which Prokofiev was 
consciously fleeing, as he sought the objectivitv of actual 

But alongside that irony, in the same issue of Cahiers dart 
(1927, No. 6), there is this comment on Picasso: "For Picasso 
painting is the skull of Yorick. He revolves it constantly in his 
hands, with intent curiosity" (Christian Zervos). 

Isn't Prokofiev doing the same thing? Though perhaps with 
this difference, that in his long hands he revolves, with no less 
curiosity, not the form of music, but its object. 

Not a skull, but a living face. 

At first, simple objects — "things" — looked at from the 
viewpoints of their texture, material, materialitv. structure. 

These become faces, which can be identified by their eye- 
lids, cheek-bones, crania. 

Later these grow into human images, composed of emotions 
(Romeo and Juliet), and, finally, thev develop into images 
that embodv pages of historv. images of phenomena, of social 
systems — collective images of the people. 

Thus the hoof-beats of the Teutonic knights in Alexander 
N ex sky do not merelv "hammer for the sake of hammering." 
but out of this "hammer for hammer" and "gallop for gallop" 



there is evolved a universal image, galloping across the thir- 
teenth century to the twentieth — toward the unmasking of 

In this inner revelation of the spirit and nature of fascism, 
in this objectivization via fixed elements of tonal imagery, there 
is something akin to that period of modem painting when 
painters searched for the way to reveal the actuality of phe- 
nomena, through the physical composition of their materials 
— glass, wire, tin, or cardboard. 

This is another level. A difference in degree. In theme. 

For these solutions are no longer possible without social aim 
or without passion. 


The Prokofiev of our time is a man of the screen. 

And he is related to the young Prokofiev very much as the 
motion-picture screen is related to the extreme searches of 
modem painting. 

One of those extreme seekers said cleverly: "Modem art has 
finally achieved suprematism — a black square and a white 
quadrangle." All that remained was for the quadrangle to be- 
come a screen. And racing across this screen is the optical phe- 
nomenon of cinematic chiaroscuro. 

The new Prokofiev can be sensed through the screen. 

Prokofiev is a man of the screen in that special sense which 
makes it possible for the screen to reveal not only the appear- 
ance and substance of objects, but also, and particularly, their 
peculiar inner structure. 

The logic of their existence. The dynamics of their develop- 

We have seen how for decades the "modern" experiments 
in painting sought, at an immeasurable cost in effort, to resolve 
those difficulties which the screen has solved with the ease of a 
child. Dynamics, movement, chiaroscuro, transitions from 
form to form, rhythm, plastic repetition, etc., etc. 

Unable to achieve this to perfection, the painters neverthc- 



less paid for their search at the cost of the representation and 
objectivity of the imaged thing. 

Among all the plastic arts the cinema alone, with no loss of 
expressive objectivity, and with complete ease, resolves all 
these problems of painting, but at the same time the cinema 
is able to communicate much more. It alone is able to recon- 
struct so profoundly and fullv the inner movement of phe- 
nomena, as we see it on the screen. 

The camera-angle reveals the innermost being of na- 
ture. . . . 

The juxtaposition of various camera viewpoints reveals the 
artist's viewpoint on the phenomenon. 

Montage structure unites the objective existence of the phe- 
nomenon with the artist's subjective relation to it. 

None of the severe standards set for itself by modern paint- 
ing are relinquished. At the same time everything lives with 
the full vitality of the phenomenon. 

It is in this particular sense that Prokofiev's music is amaz- 
ingly plastic. It is never content to remain an illustration, but 
everywhere, gleaming with triumphant imagerv, it wonderfully 
reveals the inner movement of the phenomenon and its dy- 
namic structure, in which is embodied the emotion and mean- 
ing of the event. 

Whether it be the March from the fantastic Lore for Three 
Oranges, the duel between Mercutio and Tybalt, the gallop of 
the Teutonic knights in Alexander Nevsky, or the entrance of 
Kutuzov in the finale of War and Peace — everywhere, in the 
very nature of phenomena, Prokofiev grasps the structural se- 
cret that, before all else, conveys the broad meaning of the 

Having grasped this structural secret of all phenomena, he 
clothes it in the tonal camera-angles of instrumentation, com- 
pelling it to gleam with shifts in timbre, and forces the whole 
inflexible structure to blossom into the emotional fullness of 

The moving graphic outlines of his musical images, which 


P-R-K-F— V 

thus rise, are thrown by him onto our consciousness just as, 
through the blinding beam of the projector, moving images 
are flung onto the white plane of the screen. 

This is not an engraved impression in paint of a phenome- 
non, but a light that pierces the phenomenon by means of 
tonal chiaroscuro. 


I am not speaking of Prokofiev's musical technique, or of 
his method of composition. 

Nor do I speak of the path toward the achievement of this 
impression, but of the nature of the achieved sensation. 

And in the nature of Prokofiev's expressive speech the first 
thing I notice is the "steel step" of drumming consonants, 
which, above all, beat out the clarity of thought in those places 
where many others would have been tempted to use indis- 
tinctly modulated nuances, equivalent to the candied fluency 
of the vowel elements. 

The frenzied conscience of Rimbaud, carried in his "bateau 
ivre" along the flowing lava of diffuse and drunken images, 
dictated to him that litany of praise to the vowels — Le Sonnet 
des voyelles. 

If Prokofiev had written this sonnet, he would have dedi- 
cated it to the sensible supports of language — to the Conso- 

In the same way that he writes operas, leaning not on the 
melody of rhymes, but on the bony angularity of unrhythmic 

. . . He would have written his sonnet to the Conso- 
nants. . . . 

But stop —what's this? 

Under the cunning clauses of contracts — in the polite in- 
scriptions on photographs for friends and admirers — in the 
upper right-hand comer of the music-paper of a new piece — 

— we see, always — the harsh tap-dance of consonants: 



This is the usual signature of the composer! 

He even spells his name with nothing but consonants! 


Once Bach found a divine melodic pattern in the very out- 
lines of the letters in his name. 

Read as notes, these letters — BACH — arranged them- 
selves in a musical line, which became the melodic base for 
one of his works. 

The consonants with which Prokofiev signs his name could 
be read as a symbol of the undeviating consistency of his en- 
tire talent. 

From the composer's creative work — as from his signature 
— everything unstable, transient, accidental, or capricious has 
been expelled. 

This is how they wrote on ancient icons : 

Gospod (Lord) was written "Gd," and Tzar "Tzr," 

and "Rzhstvo Btzy" stood for Rozhdestvo Bogoroditzy 
(Birth of the Mother of God) . 

The strict spirit of the old Slavonic canon is reflected in 
these eliminations of everything accidental, transient, mun- 

In teaching, the canon leaned on the eternal, over the 

In painting — on the existent, rather than on the ephemeral. 

In inscriptions — on the consonants, apparently symbols of 
the eternal, as opposed to the accidental. 

This is what we find in the ascetic drum-beat of those five 
consonants — P, R, K, F, V — sensed through the dazzling 
radiation of Prokofiev's musical chiaroscuro. 

And it is thus that the black-lacquered letters flash over the 
rhythmic conflict of sharp-edged planes on the canvases of 

And thus the gold letters burn dimly on the frescoes of 

Or they echo with the abbot's stern call through the floods 



of sepia and the celestial azure of cobalt in the murals of 
Feofan the Greek on the vaults of the Fyodor Stratilat Church 

in Novgorod. 

Equal to the inflexible severity of Prokofiev's writing is the 
magnificence of his lyricism, which blossoms in that miracle 
of Prokofiev orchestration — the "Aaron's rod" of his struc- 
tural logic. 

Prokofiev is profoundly nationalistic. 

But not in the kvas and shchi manner of the conventionally 
Russian pseudo-realists. 

Nor is he nationalistic in the "holy water" detail and genre 
of Perov's or Repin's brush. 

Prokofiev is nationalistic in the severely traditional sense 
that dates back to the savage Scythian and the unsurpassed per- 
fection of the thirteenth-centurv stone carvings on the cathe- 
drals of Vladimir and Suzdal. 

His nationalism springs from the very sources that shaped 
the national consciousness of the Russian people, the source 
that is reflected in the folk-wisdom of our old frescoes or the 
icon-craftsmanship of Rublev. 

That is why antiquity resounds so wonderfully in Proko- 
fiev's music — not by archaic or stylized means, but by the 
most extreme and hazardous twists of ultra-modern musical 

Here, within Prokofiev himself, we find the same paradoxi- 
cal synchronization as when we juxtapose an icon with a cubist 
painting — Piscasso with the frescoes of Spaso-Nereditzkaya. 

Through this true (in a Hegelian sense) originality, through 
tin's "firstness" of his, Prokofiev is, at the same time, both 
profoundly national — and international. 

Just as international and ultra-modern as an icon painted on 
sandalwood hanging among the canvases of a New York art 




But it is not only in this way that Prokofiev is international. 

He also is international in the active variety of his expressive 

In this the canon of his musical mentality is again similar to 
a canon of antiquity, but in this case to the canon of Byzantine 
tradition, which has the faculty of shining through any en- 
vironment it finds itself in, ever fresh and unexpected. 

On Italian soil it shines through the Madonnas of Cim- 

On Spanish soil — through the works of Domenikos Theo- 
tokopoulos, called El Greco. 

In the state of Novgorod — through the murals of anony- 
mous masters, murals barbarically trampled underfoot by the 
brutish hordes of invading Teutons. . . . 

Thus the art of Prokofiev can be fired by more than purely- 
national, historical, or patriotic themes, such as the heroic 
events of the nineteenth, sixteenth, or thirteenth centuries 
(the triad of War and Peace, Ivan the Terrible, and Alexander 
Nevsky) . 

The pungent talent of Prokofiev, attracted by the passionate 
environment of Shakespearean Italy of the Renaissance, flares 
up in a ballet on the theme of that great dramatist's most lyri- 
cal tragedy. 

In the magic environment of Gozzi's phantasmagoria, from 
Prokofiev there issues forth an amazing cascade of fantasy, a 
quintessence of Italy at the end of the eighteenth century. 

In the nursery — the scrawny neck of Andersen's Ugly Duck- 
ling or Peter and the Wolf. 

In the environment of the bestialities of the thirteenth cen- 
tury — the unforgettable image of the blunted iron "wedge" 
of Teutonic knights, galloping forward with the same "irre- 
sistibility" as did the tank columns of their loathsome descend- 




Everywhere — search: severe, methodical. This makes Pro- 
kofiev kin to the masters of the early Renaissance, when a 
painter — simultaneously philosopher and sculptor — would 
inevitably be a mathematician as well. 

Everywhere freedom from an impressionistic "generality," 
from the mask of "approximation," and from the smeared 
color of "blobs." 

In his hands one senses not an arbitrary brush, but a respon- 
sible camera-lens. 

Once in an article on Degas, Paul Valery wrote about the 
art of the future. Far from the mess of paint-pots, the smell of 
glue and kerosene and turpentine, from dirty brushes and 
dusty easels, Paul Valery displays for us not a studio, but some- 
thing closer to a laboratory — something between an operating- 
room and a dynamo station. Among the exact movements 
of people clad in sanitary gowns, in rubber gloves, amid the 
steely glitter of the prepared instruments — new works of 
painting would be born. 

Valery's dream came true — by the end of Degas's life the 
cinema had appeared. 

The ideal in painting, in Valery's view, is embodied in 
music, it seems to me, in the work of Prokofiev. 

And that is why his work is so brilliantly organic especially 
amid the microphones, flashing photo-elements, celluloid spi- 
rals of film, the faultless accuracy of meshing sprockets in the 
motion-picture camera, the millimetric exactness of synchroni- 
zation, and the mathematical calculations of length in film 
montage. . . . 

The blinding beam of the projection-machine is shut off. 

The ceiling lights of the projection-room are turned on. 

Prokofiev wraps his scarf around him. 

I may sleep calmly. 

At exactly 11.55 a.m. tomorrow morning his small blue 
automobile will come through the gate of the film studio. 



Five minutes later the score will lie on my desk. 

On it will be the symbolic letters: 


Nothing ephemeral, nothing accidental. 

All is distinct, exact, perfect. 

That is why Prokofiev is not only one of the greatest com- 
posers of our time, but also, in my opinion, the most wonder- 
ful film composer. 

Sergei Eisenstein 1 
Alma Ata, November 1942 
Moscow, November 1944 

1 Translated by Jay Leyda. 




'ERGEI PROKOFIEV is well known throughout 
the world as one of the leading and most distinguished of mod- 
ern composers. Few composers in either hemisphere can rival 
the power and originality of his talent, his wide popularity, or 
the scope and fertility of his genius. 

All that he has written during the long years of his career, 
and especially his music for the piano, has long since won a 
lasting place for itself in the repertory of Soviet and foreign 
musicians. With more than thirty vears of independent activ- 
ity' behind him, Prokofiev has preserved all his indefatigable 
creative energy, his keen imagination and ingenuity, and his 
inexhaustible \italitv. He is a stranger to academic compla- 
cency, to the smug self-satisfaction of those who have achieved 
a certain professional mastery, to saccharine prettiness, and to 
petty* self-adulation. He is always striving for perfection, re- 
newing the range of his artistic media, and absorbing the new 
trends in the ever changing life around him. Yet he has re- 
mained true to himself. 

It is edifying to observe how tirelessly Prokofiev fights for 
his artistic principles, never succumbing to the inertia of the 
stereotyped. This was true of him thirty vears ago. when he 
threw down the gauntlet to the academic musical world of 
pie-Revolutionary Russia. It was true of him during his wan- 
derings through America and Europe, when he hungrily pur- 
sued his quest of the new. notwithstanding the furious attacks 
of the critics. It is still true of him at the present day. During 
the past decade Sergei Prokofiev has been li\ing and working 
with us as one of the most interesting masters of Soviet music. 
Soviet reality is exercising a more and more tangible and 
beneficent influence on his work: after Romeo and Juliet. Alex- 
ander Nevsky, Zdraritsa. and Scmvon Kotko one can speak 
quite definitely of a new phase in Prokofiev's music, what one 



might term the creative synthesis of the whole of his thirty- 
five years of mature work as a composer. His brilliant inven- 
tiveness and inexhaustible virtuosity have been directed more 
and more confidently toward the solution of the social prob- 
lems facing Soviet art. It is precisely with this phase that the 
social trend of his art has become more clearly defined, more 
conscious and purposeful. 

A diligent and systematic worker, Prokofiev never allows 
himself to be guided by the whims of inspiration. There is 
nothing of the egocentric manner of the romantics in his 
method. He works at times like a talented architect capable of 
placing the whole of his knowledge and artistic ability at the 
service of one or another productive task. And when a produc- 
tive task is not warmed by the breath of poetic feeling, when 
it is not touched bv the inner world of the artist and is not in 
harmony with his sharply individual style, the music is bound 
to seem cold, superficial, and artificial. 

A passion for exploring new pastures, the enthusiasm of 
the experimenter, the avidity of the traveler, a constant striv- 
ing to discover new musical fields, have been Prokofiev's out- 
standing traits since his student days in the Conservatory. New 
methods of orchestration, original harmonies, new, unexplored 
dramatic situations in opera, unique unorthodox uses of the 
libretto — all these have attracted Prokofiev from his very 
childhood. It is not surprising that not all of his discoveries 
have withstood the test of time, that not all of them are com- 
prehensible to the average concert-goer or suitable for further 

But whenever a new discovery retains its ties with the musi- 
cal past, when it is destined to unfold some page of living 
truth, when it reveals the keen and sensitive eye of the observer, 
the humor of the narrator, the skill of the virtuoso, then the 
experiment crosses the boundary into the realm of living art 
and becomes a true expression of the epoch. 

Need it be pointed out that innovation and the restless 
search for new modes of expression are precisely the qualities 



most in keeping with the spirit of our times? Without them 
Soviet music could not advance. Even when innovation is 
limited to the sphere of laboratory experimentation, it is far 
more valuable than placid unimaginative composition along 
the beaten track. 

However conflicting Prokofiev's searchings of recent years 
may be, whatever the effect on them of rational, cold-blooded 
experimentation, of that regrettable abuse of the primitive, 
that artificial simplicity, one thing is quite clear: Prokofiev is 
undoubtedly approaching that summit of true art which has 
beckoned to him from the earliest years of his career as a com- 

Sergei Prokofiev's advent in the world of Russian music 
coincided with a grave crisis in Russian art. Those were the 
troublous times that preceded the First World War and the 
October Revolution, when the decay and inevitable collapse 
of the culture of the Russian bourgeoisie and nobility became 
most apparent. Fashions in art in that period changed with 
fantastic rapiditv: imperialist Russia, keeping pace with the 
West, produced an ever increasing number of new and ex- 
treme schools and trends in art, each of which denounced the 
art of its predecessors. In the domain of painting, for instance, 
the exquisite stylization and decorative retrospection of the 
W r orld of Art ' were replaced bv the rude earthiness, solid 
color effects, and formalistic objectivism of the Russian 
Cezanne school ("Jack of Diamonds'"). In their turn, the 
young futurist groupings ("Ass's Tail" and "Target") rebelled 
against the French orientation of the "Jack of Diamonds," 
proclaimed the cult of the primitive and simplified, and 
pointed the wav to abstract, subjectless. "black square" designs. 

In poetry the shortlived domination of symbolism had 
ended. The archaeology and mvsticism of the older generation 
of svmbolists alreadv sounded old-fashioned. The cleverest of 
the symbolist poets, such as Alexander Blok. themselves ad- 
mitted that the school had collapsed. Onto the poetic arena 

1 See p. xxv, note 3. 



emerged the acmeists or Adamists, with their cult of the con- 
crete, their material, mundane system of symbols and affected 
Scvthianism. "The band of Adams with partings in their hair/' 
Mayakovsky aptly christened them. And in the midst of the 
group of ultra-Lefts, the anarchistic and rebellious Moscow 
cubo-futurists, alongside the out-and-out formalists of the 
nihilist variety, rose the young Mayakovsky, who flayed with 
equal passion the "castrated psychology" of the naturalists, 
the passive sestheticism of the symbolists, and the "perfumed 
pornography" of Igor Severyanin. 

The very same process of feverish change of different, 
sometimes mutually exclusive schools and trends was taking 
place in Russian music. The representatives of the great tradi- 
tion of Russian music, the direct proponents of Five and 
Tchaikovsky schools, were still living and occupying a leading 
position in the musical life of the country. But in modernist 
circles these traditions were already considered as shamefully 
out of date as the realistic traditions of the Peredvizhniki 2 in 
the circles of the young painters. A conscious anti-Tchaikov- 
skyism became the credo of the modern musicians. Serge 
Rachmaninoff and Nikolai Medtner, so recently associated 
with modernistic trends, found themselves in the second dec- 
ade of the twentieth century in the camp of the moderate 
Rights. Amazinglv rapid was the evolution of the brilliant 
Scriabin from Chopinism and neo-romantic sympathies to ex- 
tremely subjective, expressionist art, to the assertion of his 
super-individualistic aspirations in forms that grew more and 
more complex, more and more remote from accepted musical 
genres and standards. 

Similarly rapid were the rise and decline of trends emulat- 
ing French impressionism. Vladimir Rebikov, the first Russian 
impressionist, faded into obscurity before his grandiose proj- 
ects were realized; the experiments of Nikolai Tcherepnin and 
the young Sergei Vassilcnko, followers of the World of Art 

- Peredvizhniki — the name given to a group of painters of a decidedly real- 
istic and democratic trend in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. 



school, the effective stylization of the Diaghilev s ballet 
(Scheherazade, The Firebird) were ousted by the cubist bar- 
barism of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps. Analogous 
processes were at work in the Russian theater: from the sym- 
bolist experiments of the Moscow Art Theater and the Komis- 
sarzhevskaya Theater, through the leanings toward the gro- 
tesque and the masque, the tendency ran toward the purely 
formalistic futurist extravaganzas of Meyerhold; and alongside 
it was the repudiation in principle of all operatic art as having 
allegedly outlived its purpose, and the striving to replace it 
with a semi-acrobatic pantomime. 

All branches of art in this period passed from the elaborate 
beauty of symbolism and impressionism to crude simplifica- 
tion and cynical primitivization: to cubism and absence of 
subject in painting, to a studied abracadabra and verbal ca- 
cophony in poetry, to a constructivism devoid of both meaning 
and emotion in music, and in the theater to the "stunts" and 
arbitrary eccentricities of the producer. 

And, of course, Lenin, Plekhanov, Gorky, and Tolstoy were 
right when they voiced so many sharp protests against the 
decadence of art, against its deliberate negation of the idea. 
They correctly pointed out that the exalted ideal of great art 
which could "sear the hearts of men with a word" does not 
tolerate the worship of form per se. 

However much we may value the outstanding examples of 
Russian modernism, however highly we may appraise its vivid- 
ness of form, its culture, taste, inventiveness, and originality, 
it is quite clear to us today that the World of Art group, Bal- 
mont, the young Stravinsky, the masters of the "Jack of Dia- 
monds," and the Diaghilev troupe, all represented an ivory- 
tower art that shut itself off from Russian life on the eve of the 

3 Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev (1872-1929), distinguished Russian art 
scholar, musician, and lawyer by education. In the late nineties of last century 
led the struggle of the young Russian innovators against academism and the 
followers of the Peredvizhniki. Organizer of the World of Art group, which 
rallied around the magazine of the same name. From 1909 organized the Rus- 
sian modernist ballet abroad. While in Paris Diaghilev produced most of the 
ballets of Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Milhaud, and Auric. 



Revolution, displaying a total indifference to the vital inter- 
ests and passions of the world around them. 

It was only in spite of principles of modernism, as a repudia- 
tion of these principles, that artists who were sensitive to the 
pulse of the Russia of their day rose from the morass of de- 
cadence. Such were Blok and Bryusov in symbolist poetry, and 
Scriabin and Miaskovsky in the new Russian music. Blok, 
Bryusov, and Miaskovsky were subsequently among the first 
to embrace in their own way the October Revolution. 

The music of the young Prokofiev had a dual quality. 
On the one hand it cannot be considered apart from the kalei- 
doscopic change of styles and schools occurring in all spheres 
of Russian art at that time. Prokofiev is undoubtedly a genu- 
ine product of Russian modernism. His talent was inspired 
and nurtured by the proponents of the new modernistic trends 
with Diaghilev at their head. Their credo was originality, in- 
vention, formal novelty at all costs; the meaning of art, they 
held, lay in the inimitable personality of the artist himself. 
The social struggle, great human ideals — all this was no con- 
cern of the artist. 4 A product of modernism, bound to it by a 
thousand threads and to a considerable extent infected by 
many of its prejudices, the young Prokofiev at the same time 
rebelled against conventional, academic art and decadent sym- 
bolist art. Like Mayakovsky in poetry, he swept the outmoded 
rubbish and the rotten scum of decadence out of the Augean 
stables of Russian music, directing music along the road of 
simplicity, concreteness, and accessibility. 

As Mayakovsky wrote in his Order of the Day for the Army 
of Art: 

Drag the pianos into the street, 

fish the drums out of the window. 

Piano the drums 

and drum on the pianos to beat 

the band, till they lighten 

and thunder. 

4 "An artist should love beauty alone," wrote Diaghilev. "The reactions of 
art to worldly cares and worries arc unworthy of this smile of the divinity." 
(Quoted by N. Sokolova in The World of Art.) 



The fierce nihilism of the rebel musician, notwithstanding 
his revolutionary tendencies, was fraught with danger; his very 
rebellion, unless there were positive ideals to counterbalance 
it, might have degenerated into something akin to the "ultra- 
Left" variety of modernism. In that case the spirit of rebellion 
would have led Prokofiev to a negation of the very foundations 
of art and to an anarchic repudiation of all its standards and 
canons, as in the case of the "Left" painters, or to a cold "im- 
passe of perversion," as with Stravinsky and Schonberg. Then 
Prokofiev would have perished for us in the bog of formalism. 
But fortunately his rebellion was always combined with an 
intuitive striving toward exalted human ideals, with positive 
artistic aspirations. And if he did not reach out toward his own 
truth in art as clearly and confidently as did the young Maya- 
kovsky, that truth has triumphed for him too in the final analy- 
sis and returned him to the fold of Soviet art. In the present 
review of his artistic development I shall endeavor to trace the 
path by which, after overcoming many obstacles, the composer 
arrived at the realization of his true goal. 

I. N. 


Sergei Prokofiev 

Book I 

Early Years 



1 : Childhood 

on April 23, 1891 in the village of Sontsovka, near what is now 
the town of Stalino in the Donbas. His father, Sergei Alexey- 
evich Prokofiev (1846-1910), managed the estate of Sontsov, 
a local landowner, for thirty years. A first-class agronomist, a 
graduate of the Petrovsko-Razumovskoye Agricultural Acad- 
emy in Moscow, the composer's father built up in Sontsovka a 
model economy complete with imported machinery, a stud 
farm, and so on. 

In his youth Sergei Alexeyevich, who came from a family of 
Moscow commoners, participated in student disturbances and 
paid the price of his convictions. Although he subsequently 
retired from politics, he preserved his progressive views to the 
end of his life and devoted much time and effort to organizing 
schools in the district and helping the peasants with their 
farming. In his home at Sontsovka he possessed a large library, 
to which he was always adding. Faith in the progress of human 
culture was the foundation of Sergei Alexeyevich's liberal out- 

The mother of the future composer, Marya Grigoryevna 
Zhitkova (1855-1924), was born in St. Petersburg in a middle- 



class family. She was an excellent pianist and an intelligent 
teacher. Together with her husband she took an active part in 
the life of the village, teaching in the local school. 

When, after the death of two small daughters, a son was 
born to the Prokofievs, it was perhaps natural that he should 
become the object of particular love and attention. The par- 
ents took great pains with his education. They did not send 
him to school, but taught him themselves, "torturing" him, 
as Prokofiev now recalls, for six hours a day. 

It is to his mother that he owes his early musical training. 
From the first years of his life little Seryozha heard classical 
music, chiefly Beethoven and Chopin, as played by his mother. 
She introduced the boy to music with infinite pedagogical tact. 
At first she allowed him to describe his own impressions of the 
music he heard; then, on his own initiative, to "help" her play 
scales and exercises, tapping out his own baby version in the 
upper register until gradually he began to pick out the melody 
by himself. At the age of five and a half he composed his first 
piece of music, a Hindu Gallop, the result of his impressions 
after listening to stories about the Hindus. The piece, which 
was written down by his mother, was in F major, but without 
the B flat, for the budding composer still fought shy of the 
black notes. 

At the age of six he had already written a waltz, a march, 
and a rondo, and at seven, a march for four hands. His mother 
led him imperceptibly into the world of music, gradually en- 
riching his knowledge and striving to develop his independent 
judgment and a sincere love for music. 

In Sontsovka, Seryozha spent much time in the society of 
the village children. One of their favorite pastimes was to 
stage improvised versions of stories heard or read. The sce- 
narios for these juvenile commedie dell'arte were usually com- 
posed by the young Prokofiev himself. 

Ukrainian and Russian folk-mclodics were often sung in 
the village, and though Seryozha had little taste for any but 
serious music, there can nevertheless be little doubt that his 


feeling for Russian national melody can be traced to his child- 
hood years in the village. 

In the year 1899, when Seryozha was eight, his parents took 
him with them on a visit to Moscow. The trip made a lasting 
impression on the lad. He was taken to the Grand Opera to 
see The Sleeping Beauty, and heard Faust and Prince Igor at 
the Solodovnikov Theater. This served as the stimulus for his 
first independent attempts at opera. In June of the following 
year he had completed a three-act opera, The Giant, written in 
a piano arrangement without the vocal parts. 1 Then came an- 
other opera, Desert Islands, based on a plot of thrilling adven- 
ture complete with storms and shipwrecks. "The story didn't 
hang together very well," Prokofiev recalls, "but there were 
definite attempts to depict the elements — rain and storm." 

In the summer of 1901, when the young composer was visit- 
ing at the estate of the Rayevskys, wealthy relatives of his 
mother (Marya Prokofieva's sister was married to the land- 
owner Rayevsky, a descendant of Pushkin's friends of the 
same name), The Giant was performed 2 under the author's 
own direction with great success. His uncle was delighted. 
"When your operas are produced in an imperial theater," he 
said jovially, "don't forget that the first performance of your 
work was given in my house." 

The following year Seryozha was taken to Moscow again, 
where Y. Pomerantsev, who later became conductor of the 
Moscow Grand Opera, introduced him to Sergei Taneyev. 
After hearing the overture to Desert Islands, Taneyev formed 
a high opinion of the boy's talent. He advised the mother to 
"cherish the boy's gifts," and recommended his pupil Pomer- 
antsev as a tutor for the lad. But the traditional studies in 
harmony frightened and repelled Seryozha. "I wanted to com- 
pose operas with marches, storms and blood-curdling scenes 
and instead they saddled me with tiresome exercises." 3 

1 The text was inserted above the treble-clef part. — Editor. 

2 With a cast made up of the boy's relatives. — Editor. 

3 This quotation, like all others given subsequently without reference to the 
source, is taken from Prokofiev's Autobiography, the first section of which was 



Pomerantsev was succeeded by Reinhold Gliere, who, at 
the invitation of the Prokofievs, spent the summers of 1902 
and 1903 at Sontsovka, teaching the boy the rudiments of 
harmony, analysis of form, and instrumentation. Study of the 
three-part song form resulted in pianoforte pieces that the 
voung composer called Ditties, of which he composed whole 
series in the years that followed. Gliere, who proved to be a 
pedagogue of unusual ability and intelligence, found the cor- 
rect approach to the psychology of the talented lad. Lessons 
in instrumentation and composition were followed by a game 
of croquet or chess. The elements of form and instrumenta- 
tion were taught, not abstractly, but on the basis of a concrete 
analysis of familiar works. Gliere had the greatest respect for 
the strictly regulated regimen of work that existed in the Pro- 
kofiev household. Each day had to bring some tangible sign 
of progress in Seryozha's studies. Every year the mother would 
bring from Moscow heaps of studies and exercises for the 
piano, which the boy zealously practiced. This habit of regu- 
lar and organized work, inculcated in him by his parents, has 
remained. In contrast to the bohemian lack of discipline of so 
many musicians, his regimen is always exact, assiduous, and 

Many of the Ditties composed under Gliere's guidance have 
remained in Prokofiev's files to this day. They afford an in- 
sight into the musical predilections of the eleven-year-old 
composer. In them one can catch echoes of Schubert's ErZ- 
konig, Schumann's syncopated rhythms, melodies in the spirit 
of Bellini and Verdi, side by side with specimens of more 
common genres — marches, waltzes, and mazurkas. There is 
among them a most amusing sentimental waltz written "for 
Aunt Tancchka's birthday." 

Nevertheless, the individuality of the composer was already 
asserting itself in these childish pieces with their sharply ac- 
cented rhythms, their predilection for dance measures, their 

published in Sovietskaya Muzyka, No. 4 (1941), while the rest remains in 





l. Ditty No. 10, ist Series. Dedicated to Aunt Tanechka, Decem- 
ber 25 (O.S.), 1902. 

striving after hyperboles and unexpectedness (for example, 
Ditty No. 7, 1st series, with the forte-forte-fortissimo climax 
and the peculiar chord accompaniment in the recapitulation) . 

By the end of the summer of 1902, Prokofiev's studies with 
Gliere culminated in the composition of a four-movement 
Symphony in G major for full orchestra. This score has also 
been preserved. The opening presto bears traces of the author's 
leanings toward the classics, with certain echoes of the Italian 
operatic overture. In November the symphony was shown to 
Taneyev, who indiscreetly laughed at its "crude" harmony. 
Prokofiev was wounded to the quick by Taneyev's criticism, 
which nevertheless had the effect of inducing him to experi- 
ment in harmony. 4 

Following a violin sonata (the main theme of which was 
used by Prokofiev ten years later for his cello Ballad, Op. 1 5 ) 
the young composer tried his hand at opera once more. This 

4 Eight years later the same Taneyev, on hearing the Etudes, Op. 2, which 
abounded in "false notes," as he put it, was much put out at the thought that 
it was he who had been responsible for launching Prokofiev "on such a slippery 



was during Gliere's second visit to Sontsovka, in the summer 
of 1903. Based on the text of Pushkin's Feast during the 
Plague, the opera was quite a professional job, complete with 
vocal parts and orchestral score. True, the Overture was dis- 
proportionately long, comprising almost half of the opera. 
Nevertheless, the young composer was inordinately proud of 
his opera, and even compared it to one on the same subject 
by Cesar Cui that appeared about the same time. Six years 
later, when graduating from the composition department of 
the Conservatory, Prokofiev returned to the Feast during the 
Plague and rewrote it- completely. 

Early in 1904 Seryozha was introduced to Glazunov, who 
advised sending him at once to the St. Petersburg Conserva- 
tory. "There is every chance of his becoming a real artist," 
said Glazunov. 

A : Years of Study 

The last duckling was very ugly. It had no 
feathers, and its legs were long and gawky. 
"What if it's a turkey!" exclaimed the 
mother duck in horror. 

Andersen: The Ugly Duckling 


_N the autumn of 1904, after a Sontsovka summer 
spent in composing the first act of a new opera, Undine (after 
La Motte-Fouque and Zhukovsky), Prokofiev, now turned 
thirteen, entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory. His mother 
moved with him to St. Petersburg, while his father remained 
in Sontsovka. The young composer came to the entrance ex- 
aminations armed with his four operas, two sonatas, a sym- 
phony, and a number of pieces for the piano. The examining 
board, which included such eminent musicians as Rimsky- 
Korsakov, Glazunov, and Anatoly Lyadov, was impressed. 



Rimsky-Korsakov was delighted with the lad's talent. "Here 
is a pupil after my own heart," he said. 

Thus began Prokofiev's ten years in the St. Petersburg Con- 
servatory, ten years of rapid development of his original talent, 
ten years of ceaseless, stubborn struggle with his professors 
for the assertion of his own individual style. 

The trouble began almost at once in Lyadov's class; the dry, 
traditional methods of training irked the young composer. 
Although a fine and intelligent musician himself, Lyadov had 
never liked the teaching profession and took little interest 
in the creative aspirations of his pupils. Undine remained un- 
finished and no one in the Conservatory appeared interested 
in the work. On the other hand, Lyadov laid particular em- 
phasis on purity in voice-leading and on strict observance of 
the rules in harmony exercises. Prokofiev frequently failed to 
measure up to these requirements, and his notebooks were 
often criss-crossed with the nervous lines drawn by the pen of 
his infuriated professor. 

Then came the 1905 Revolution, with its student meetings 
and disturbances, the disgraceful dismissal of Rimsky-Korsa- 
kov, and the resignation of Lyadov and Glazunov. The young 
Prokofiev was caught up in the vortex of events without un- 
derstanding what was happening. "I also signed a protest in 
which we threatened to leave the Conservatory, much to the 
horror of my father." With Lyadov's departure the harmony 
lessons were suspended. Prokofiev spent the 1905-6 school 
year studying the piano with Alexander Winkler and working 
with Lyadov at the latter's home on the second act of Undine 
and some pieces for the piano. 

His summers were invariably spent at Sontsovka, where the 
earnest young Conservatory student from St. Petersburg be- 
came a happy carefree boy again, full of fun and mischief. His 
daily quota of piano practice over, he would run outside to 
romp and play with the village lads. During these summer 
visits home Prokofiev met a sincere admirer of his gifts, V. M. 
Morolev, a young veterinary surgeon. Morolev took a great 


interest in the lad's compositions and often played duets with 
him on the piano, treating him as though he were his equal in 
years. Later Prokofiev dedicated to Morolev his First Sonata, 
Op. 1, his March in F minor, Op. 12, and several unpublished 
pieces for the piano, including Reproach. 

2. Reproach, unpublished piano piece, January 1907. 

The year 1906-7 saw the beginning of the molding of Pro- 
kofiev's talent as a composer. Lyadov and Rimsky-Korsakov 
had returned to the Conservatory, and the classes in the com- 
position department were resumed. A number of talented 
young men who later rose to prominence — Boris Asafyev, 
Nikolai Miaskovsky, Y. Akimenko-Stepovy, and Lazare Samin- 
sky — were studying counterpoint under Lyadov during this 
period. Prokofiev's lifelong friendship with Miaskovsky began 
at this time. They seemed an ill-assorted pair, sixteen-year-old 
Seryozha Prokofiev, who often tried the patience of Lyadov 
and Rimsky-Korsakov with his mischievous taunting, and 
serious-minded, level-headed Nikolai Miaskovsky, a sapper offi- 
cer with definite views on most subjects. But this friendship 
with Miaskovsky served to broaden Prokofiev's musical out- 
look and prompted him to take a more serious interest in new 



music. Gradually his preference for Grieg, Rimsky-Korsakov, 
and Wagner gave way to an avid interest in Richard Strauss, 
Reger, and Debussy. These latter were, of course, regarded in 
the Conservatory as forbidden fruit. When Lyadov lectured 
his pupils for taking liberties with harmony, he would say in- 
dignantly: "I don't understand why you study with me. Why 
don't you go to Richard Strauss or to Debussy?" 

Max Reger's visit to St. Petersburg in 1907 marked the be- 
ginning of Prokofiev's systematic study of the new music of 
the West. A closer intimacy with Miaskovsky on the grounds 
of joint music-making began with Reger's Serenade in G 
major for four hands. Later the two were joined by the pianist 
B. Zakharov. They played four-hand arrangements of Strauss 
(Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel, Also sprach Zarathustra, Tod 
und Verklarung), Reger, and Schumann. They spent many 
enjoyable evenings discussing, arguing, and demonstrating 
their own compositions. They sometimes held impromptu 
composition contests; a group of young composers would un- 
dertake to write songs on one and the same text, or someone 
would conceive the idea of depicting snow in musical images 
(Miaskovsky wrote the music of a "most disagreeable storm," 
Prokofiev's snow was "soft and gentle, falling in large flakes") . 
Prokofiev's passion for Reger (the violin sonatas in C major 
and F-sharp minor, From a Diary, Variations on a Bach 
Theme) suggested many harmonic novelties to Prokofiev 
(complicated discords and transition chords) and a tendency 
to restless, agitated melody. At the same time Prokofiev was 
intensely interested in the music of Scriabin, whose Third 
Symphony impressed him profoundly. He was very proud of 
a two-hand pianoforte arrangement of the first movement of 
the Divine Poem that he had written, and intended to show 
it to Scriabin. 

A lively correspondence sprang up between Miaskovsky 
and Prokofiev during the latter's stay at Sontsovka in the sum- 
mers of 1907 and 1908. In their letters they discussed their 
compositions in detail and offered each other advice. Proko- 



fiev's Symphony in E minor (not included in his catalogued 
works) was composed in this way in 1908, as was Miaskovsky's 
First Symphony, in C minor, Op. 3. "I derived much more 
benefit from this correspondence than from Lyadov's dry les- 
sons," notes Prokofiev himself. During the 1906-7 and 1907- 
8 school years he worked hard in the classes of Lyadov and 
Rimsky-Korsakov, but his studies satisfied neither himself nor 
his teachers. His exercises in counterpoint, a subject in which 
he was intensely interested, were too original and unusual to 
be appreciated by Lyadov, who considered them harsh and 
crude. Lyadov was inclined to lose his temper on such occa- 
sions. Rimsky-Korsakov, on the other hand, was coldly ironic, 
and often ridiculed what he considered to be the unevenness 
and incoherence of his pupil's exercises in instrumentation. 

Besides his class work Prokofiev was required to bring some 
small piano pieces in the simplest forms to Lyadov's lessons. 
The G minor Gavotte (subsequently included in Op. 12), the 
Scherzo of the future Second Sonata, and other piano minia- 
tures came into being in this manner. At the same time he in- 
dependently undertook a number of larger works, among them 
the initial versions of his future First, Third, and Fourth Piano 
Sonatas. Some of them (for example, the Third Sonata, 1907) 
already bore the stamp of real genius. 

Although Prokofiev is to this day rather skeptical of the 
pedagogical tact of his distinguished teachers, he nevertheless 
unconsciously learned a great deal from their works. Each new 
opera by Rimsky-Korsakov, for example, aroused his eager in- 
terest (Kitezh, The Golden Cockerel). He made a point of 
acquiring and making a detailed study of every new piano 
score of Rimsky's operas with the enthusiasm he had applied 
to the study of all four operas of Der Ring des Nibelungen and 
their complex system of leitmotivs. In October 1908 he first 
heard his own orchestral music played when, through the of- 
fices of Glazunov, the E minor Symphony was performed at a 
private rehearsal of the court orchestra conducted by Hugo 
Warlich. "The orchestration of the symphony was rather 



poor," Prokofiev now recalls, "and the general impression was 
rather hazy." Glazunov was actually shocked by some of the 
harmonic liberties (for example, parallel seconds) the com- 
poser had taken. Prokofiev kept the symphony in his archives, 
using its Andante later on for the middle part of his Fourth 
Piano Sonata. 

An important role in the molding of Prokofiev's talent as a 
composer was played by the Evenings of Modern Music, a so- 
ciety he joined in 1908. He was introduced to the society by 
Mikhail Tchernov, pianist and composer, who taught at the 
Conservatory. His visits to the Evenings, where the latest Rus- 
sian and western European music was played, developed Pro- 
kofiev's taste for novel musical trends. 

The Evenings of Modern Music, held in the first decade of 
the twentieth century, constituted the backbone of Russian 
modernism in music. Beginning as an offshoot of the World 
of Art group, and constituting a sort of musical branch of that 
society, the Evenings played in the history of Russian music 
of that period a role that is worth a special study in itself. 
While coming out in opposition to the dreary professionalism 
of the followers of the Five and Tchaikovsky, the group of 
musical innovators banded together in the Evenings of Mod- 
ern Music at the same time upheld many of the modernistic 
principles of the bourgeois aesthetes. Two of the active mem- 
bers of the Evenings, Alfred Nurok and Walter Nuvel, 1 were 
the ideologists of the World of Art group and supporters of 
the Diaghilev school of thought. Diaghilev's art principles, an 
orientation toward the modern West (the French impression- 
ists and Reger), emphasis on original and non-repetitive 
forms, and a rejection of the social and educational implica- 

1 Alfred Pavlovich Nurok, admiralty official and art critic, wrote for the 
World of Art magazine under the pen-name of Silenus. Walter Fedorovich 
Nuvel, official of the Russian Foreign Office, lover of music and painting, was 
a close friend of K. Somov and other World of Art artists. Nurok and Nuvel 
subsequently played a significant role in the life of Prokofiev (his acquaintance 
with Diaghilev, the order for the ballet Ala and Lolli, etc.). The Diaghilev 
influence on Prokofiev's work can be traced directly to both these men. 



tions of art — such were the leading principles of this group. 
Tchaikovsky's music was regarded by them as banal, philis- 
tine, and hopelessly out of date. On the other hand, every- 
thing interesting and fresh produced by the young musicians 
was sought out and encouraged. Before every concert hundreds 
of new works received from abroad or composed in Russia 
were tried out. Due credit must be given to' the organizers of 
the Evenings for their tremendous enthusiasm and their sin- 
cere devotion to their art. The soul of the Evenings, their ar- 
dent champion and inspirer, was Vyacheslav Gavrilovich 
Karatygin (1875-1925). The name of this eminent and in- 
telligent musician, critic, and distinguished scholar, who later 
invested no little effort in building up Soviet musical culture 
as well, deserves to take its place beside the classics of Russian 
musical criticism. Other prominent members of the Evenings 
society were Ignatz Kryzhanovsky, composer and physician 
(one of Miaskovsky's first teachers), A. D. Medem, pianist 
and composer, who taught at the Conservatory, and I. V. Po- 
krovsky, pianist and closest friend of the young Stravinsky. 

The programs of the Evenings included the chamber music 
of Debussy, Dukas, Faure, Chausson, Roussel, d'Indy, Schon- 
berg, Reger, Wolf, Richard Strauss, and the modern Russian 
composers — Scriabin, Stravinsky, Medtner, Rachmaninoff, 
Rebikov, Senilov, Tcherepnin, Gnessin, and Steinberg. Of 
works by the established Russian composers, only the freshest 
and most attractive from the standpoint of modernistic tastes 
(Mldda by Rimsky-Korsakov, Sunless by Mussorgsky) were 
chosen. The leading vocalists and pianists of the day — the 
singers I. Alchevsky, M. Lunacharsky, N. Zabela, A. Zherebt- 
sova, and the pianists L. Nikolayev, M. Barinova, and S. Polot- 
skaya-Yemtsova — performed willingly and, of course, gratis 
at the Evenings. The societv barely maintained itself on the 
modest membership fees and the negligible entrance fee. 
Nevertheless the Evenings were invariably noted by the critics 
and amply supplied with programs, posters, and the like. Alex- 
ander Bcnois, K. Somov, E. Lancere and M. Dobuzhinsky 



of the World of Art rendered every assistance in the organiza- 
tion of the Evenings. Beginning in 1901-2, the Evenings con- 
tinued until 1912 in the form of monthly chamber concerts 
held usually in the period between October and April in var- 
ious concert halls of St. Petersburg. 

It was from this circle that the most distinguished repre- 
sentatives of the musical modernism of the post-Scriabin gen- 
eration — Stravinsky and Prokofiev — sprang. Miaskovsky, 
too, received his first solid support from the society. 

In December 1908 the young Prokofiev made his first pub- 
lic appearance at a public concert arranged by the Evenings 
of Modern Music (Miaskovsky also made his debut that eve- 
ning with four songs ) . Prokofiev played seven pieces for the 
piano: Story, Snowflakes, Reminiscence, Elan, Prayer, De- 
spair, and Diabolic Suggestions. The last piece impressed the 

?RE3rc.S3ino sotastico 

3. Diabolic Suggestions, Opus 4, No. 4. 

audience profoundly by its powerful, irrepressible dynamism. 
"The whole hall seemed suddenly to be filled with sound," 
wrote V. M. Morolev, who was present at the concert. " 'Now 
that is real music!' was the comment heard on all sides." Pro- 
kofiev's first appearance was mentioned in the St. Petersburg 



press (Slovo, Rech, Peterburgsky Listok, and the Zolotoye 
Runo chronicle). 

In the meantime Prokofiev was finishing the composition 
course at the Conservatory. His studies under Joseph Wihtol 
(Vitols), while rather less turbulent than those with Lyadov, 
had been dull and uninteresting. At this period Prokofiev took 
a great interest in piano-playing and had studied with Winkler 
Rubinstein's extremely difficult C major Etude. 2 Encouraged 
by the modernists, Prokofiev had been bringing to Wihtol's 
class compositions of an increasingly audacious nature (the 
Sixth Sonata, subsequently lost, 3 and scenes from his new ver- 
sion of the music for the Feast during the Plague). Wihtol 
did not discourage the bold departures made by his pupil from 
the established canons, with the result that when the final ex- 
aminations came round in the spring of 1909, the examiners 
were scandalized. What shocked them most was a scene from 
the Feast during the Plague: the monologue of the priest who 
sternly upbraids the drunken revelers was written in a free and 
harsh-sounding recitative with extremely vivid and dramatic 
use of the chorus. Lyadov especially was deeply shocked by the 
musical audacitv of Prokofiev. "They are all trying to ape 
Scriabin," he said bitterly. 

Nevertheless, at the age of eighteen Prokofiev was granted 
the title of Free Artist, 4 though his ratings were far from bril- 
liant (4-plus out of 5 for analysis of form, 4-plus for fugue com- 
position, and 4 for instrumentation). The Conservatory pro- 
fessors were evidentlv onlv too glad to be rid of such a restless 
and troublesome pupil. Thus ended Prokofiev's education in 

2 This £tude, as well as Schumann's C major Toccata at a somewhat later 
date, evidently served as the point of departure for some of the finger-work 
passages in Prokofiev's music for the piano (viz., the First and Third Con- 

3 Of the six sonatas written during the Conservatory period, the First, 
Fourth, and Sixth have been lost; the Second was used partly for the First 
Sonata, Op. i, the Third formed the basis of the Third Sonata, Op. 28, and the 
Fifth was incorporated in part in the Fourth Sonata, Op. 29. 

4 Free Artist was a title formerly granted to a graduate of a conservatory. 



His friends Miaskovsky and Zakharov urged him to con- 
tinue his pianoforte studies by enrolling in the class of Annette 
Essipova, the leading piano tutor in the Conservatory. Under 
the tutelage of Winkler, who was somewhat dry and pedantic, 
Prokofiev's performance on the piano was beginning to lose 
color. Essipova was glad to accept a pupil already famous for 
his own compositions and endowed with unusual pianistic tal- 
ents (the performance of Rubinstein's C major Etude had not 
passed unnoticed; . At the same time Prokofiev began to studv 
conducting under Nikolai Nikolayevich Tcherepnin. 

The five years between 1909 and 1914 passed in diligent 
study combined with unceasing and bv now completelv inde- 
pendent composition. Incidentally, while at Sontsovka in the 
summer of 1909 he composed his remarkable Etudes, Op. 2 
(D minor, E minor, C minor, C minor), fruits of a rich and 
perfectly mature pianistic manner. Only in the E minor Etude 
is the influence of Medtner strongly evident. 

Before he had studied many months in Essipova's class, 
Prokofiev was rebelling again. He refused to conform to the 
standards set by his distinguished tutor. Nevertheless, Essi- 
pova, who had inherited the brilliant traditions of the Lesche- 
tizky school, undoubtedly had a very strong influence on Pro- 
kofiev's playing, giving it an exceptional freedom of wrist 
movement and purity of finger technique. It was under her 
tutelage that he learned to play Schumann (Sonata in F-sharp 
minor and Toccata in C major) and Liszt (Sonata in B minor, 
a transcription from Tannhauser) . Medtner's Fairy-tales. 
Glazunov's Sonata in E minor, and pieces bv Tchaikovskv. 
Rachmaninoff, and Chopin. 

In this period, however, Prokofiev, deeplv imbued with 
ultra-modemistic ideals, was stronglv opposed to classical and 
romantic music. He scoffed at the prevailing idea that no piano 
recital program was complete without Chopin. "I shall prove 
that one can do quite well without Chopin," he said. His atti- 
tude to Mozart was similarly scornful ("What harmony — 
the tonic, fourth, and fifth!"). Essipova made her pupils play 



Mozart, Schubert, and Chopin and demanded accurate and 
finely polished execution. But Prokofiev did not want to give 
up his grand, careless manner of playing and his fondness for 
taking liberties with the score. 5 This was the cause of constant 
friction between him and his tutor, which lasted throughout 
his Conservatory career. 

His relations with Tcherepnin were much better. Tcherep- 
nin proved to be the most influential and tactful of all the 
Conservatory professors with whom Prokofiev had come in 
contact. This may have been due to the fact that Tcherepnin 
was the most modern of the academic group of St. Petersburg 
composers. The encouragement he gave to the modernistic 
tastes of his pupils could not fail to win Prokofiev's respect. 
Besides learning orchestration in Tcherepnin's class, he re- 
ceived encouragement and valuable advice in his experiments 
in composition. "I have great faith in your talent as a com- 
poser," Tcherepnin assured him on more than one occasion. 
And though he did not have the same high regard for his pu- 
pil's ability as a conductor, he nevertheless directed his studies 
with much intelligence and tact. By 1913 Prokofiev conducted 
five out of eight symphony numbers at a Conservatory recital. 
Thanks to Tcherepnin, Prokofiev conducted a great deal in the 
opera class of Palecek, with the result that he was able in 
March 1914 to conduct a public performance of Mozart's Le 
Nozze di Figaro and a fragment of Verdi's Aida. Prokofiev's 
conducting was the subject of wide comment (mostly unfa- 
vorable) in the St. Petersburg press. 

While supporting his pupil's predilection for the new in 
music, Tcherepnin at the same time succeeded in imbuing 
him with respect for the classic tradition, for old operatic cul- 
ture, and for the music of Haydn and Mozart. These, for 
Prokofiev, new "neo-classical" tendencies made themselves felt 

8 V. M. Morolcv placed at my disposal a copy of Scherzo a la russe by 
Tchaikovsky, with notes in Prokofiev's handwriting. The voung pianist merci- 
lessly scored out "superfluous" notes, added octaves in the bass, introduced 
Staccatos and accelerandos, and went so far as to introduce difficult leaps by 
transposing chords to a higher octave. 



partly in his Sinfonietta, Op. 5, and some pieces of Op. 12, 
and with particular force in his Classical Symphony, 
Op. 25. 

Study under Tchcrepnin stimulated Prokofiev's waning in- 
terest in symphonic music. His unsuccessful E minor Sym- 
phony was followed in 1909 by a five-part Sinfonietta in A 
major dedicated to Tcherepnin, and in 1910 by two orchestral 
pieces, Dreams and Autumnal Sketch. Dreams, dedicated to 
Scriabin, was, with Tcherepnin's aid, performed at a student 
symphony recital (November 22, 1910) and conducted by 
Prokofiev himself. Two pieces for female chorus with orchestra 
written the same year to Balmont's poems Swan and Wave 
were also performed at a private Conservatory rehearsal be- 
cause the choruses were difficult and the Conservatory singers 
were unable to master them for public performance. The com- 
poser himself considers these works immature, mentioning the 
rather flaccid passiveness of Dreams and the marked Rachma- 
ninoff influence in the Autumnal Sketch, which echoes the lat- 
ter's Isle of the Dead and Second Symphony. 6 Evidently the de- 
cadent cult of symbolism with its passive contemplation and 
morbid revelations had an influence on the young Prokofiev. 
This made itself felt also in his interest in Balmont, the whole 
mood and style of whose poetry might have been expected to 
be utterly alien to the healthy, realistic outlook of Prokofiev. 
Yet for a long while Prokofiev was enchanted by the musical 
quality of Balmont's language and by certain cosmic and bar- 
barously exotic images. This "illicit liaison" with poetry of a 
trend so foreign to his nature was undoubtedly one manifesta- 
tion of the conflicting tendencies in Prokofiev's musical de- 
velopment. 7 

6 Nevertheless, Prokofiev returned to his early symphonic works more than 
once. He revised the Sinfonietta on two occasions — in 1914 and in 19-9, on 
the latter occasion in the form of a new opus — Op. 48. In 1930 the Autumnal 
Sketch was reorchestrated. 

7 Balmont's poetry inspired, in addition to Op. 7, one of the songs in Op. 
9 (There Are Other Planets), one of the songs in Op. 23 (In My Garden), 
the cantata Seven, They Are Seven, and five poems, Op. 36. From Balmont 
he borrowed the title of his piano cycle Furtive Visions: 



In February 1910, Moscow musicians heard Prokofiev for 
the first time when he played his First Sonata in F minor and 
four Etudes, Op. 2, at one of the musical recitals arranged 
regularly by the singer M. Deisha-Sionitskaya (February 21, 
thirteenth recital). The composer was accorded a warm re- 
ception by the distinguished Nikolai Kashkin, who mentioned 
his "giftedness and his earnest attitude to his work" and 
"youthful courage" (Russkoye Slovo, February 23). 

Prokofiev continued to appear at the concerts of the St. 
Petersburg Evenings of Modern Music; during the 1910-11 
season he played his Etudes, Op. 2, and some pieces from Op. 
3, and in a concert held on March 28, 1911 gave the first per- 
formance in Russia of piano works by Schonberg (Klavier- 
stiicke, Op. 11). 

In the period up to 191 1 Prokofiev may be said to have been 
bracing himself for the large and unexpected leap toward the 
full unfolding of his artistic individuality. Some of his com- 
positions relating to this period still bore the imprint of im- 
maturity and imitativeness. Such was the First Sonata in F 
minor, written in 1907 and revised in 1909, when the Adagio 
and Finale were deleted and only the Allegro remained. Hack- 
neyed figuration, pathetic minor themes in the spirit of Rach- 
maninoff and Medtner, touches reminiscent of Schumann 
(subordinate theme, reminiscent of one of the themes of the 
F-sharp minor Sonata) clearly dominated in this sonata over 
the few flashes of Prokofiev's own personality. The same re- 
spectful tribute to his older contemporaries was felt also in his 
first symphonic works, in which the author himself detects 
echoes of Rachmaninoff. 

Nevertheless, even his early piano miniatures of 1907-9 re- 
veal the restless, inquiring mind of the young composer, ever 
in quest of new harmonies and rhythms. His pieces for the 

In every fugitive vision I see worlds, 

Full of the changing play of rainbow hues. 

In his turn Balmont wrote several verses in Prokofiev's honor in 1921 
(Create Thou Sounds, Third Concerto). Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto is 
dedicated to Balmont. 



piano were to Prokofiev the same "laboratory" of new musical 
images as were, let us say, the Fantasiestiicke for Schumann 
and the piano preludes for Chopin, Scriabin, and Shostakovich. 
Apart from the early versions of the Third (1907) and Fourth 
(1908) Sonatas, mention should be made here of such com- 
positions as the Etudes, Op. 2, Four Pieces, Op. 3 (Story, 
Badinage, March, and Phantom), and especially of the Four 
Pieces, Op. 4 (Reminiscence, Elan, Despair, and Diabolic 
Suggestions) . 

In these small sketches for future large canvases the artistic 
individuality of Prokofiev revealed itself to the full: his fond- 
ness for pensive day-dreaming and romantic narrative (Story, 
Reminiscence, Etude in E minor), his loud bovish laughter 
(Badinage, the middle of the D minor Etude), his tense the- 
atrical dramatism (Etude No. 4, Phantom, Despair). Such 
pieces as Diabolic Suggestions or the Etudes Nos. 4 and 1 
might to this day serve as a perfect test of the artistic and tech- 
nical maturity of a pianist. The highly expressive polytonal 
complexities and the refreshing harmonic discoveries of Dia- 
bolic Suggestions, the original polyrhythmic passages in the 
D minor Etude, the characteristic ostinato effects (continually 
recurring figures ) in Phantom and Despair — all these were 
for Prokofiev bright flashes of insight into the future. 

In 1910 the composer's father died at the age of sixty-four. 
The visits to Sontsovka ceased. But his mother, who had pro- 
found faith in her son's talent, possessed the means and the 
energy to provide him with the wherewithal to continue his 



<J : Recognition 

And suddenly he grew a lion's mane, 
A lion's pointed claw, 
And skittishly the art did demonstrate 
Of touching with one's paw. 

V. Khlebnikov 


.HE year 1911 was an important landmark in the life 
of Prokofiev. That year he appeared for the first time on the pro- 
gram of a large public symphony concert, his work began to be 
published, and he wrote his First Piano Concerto, a major 
composition that crowned his youthful efforts. 

The first two events took place in Moscow. It was Konstan- 
tin Solomonovich Saradzhev, a progressive Moscow conduc- 
tor, then chairman of the society of orchestra musicians, who 
introduced Prokofiev (and, incidentally, Miaskovsky) to Mos- 
cow through the medium of the concerts given in the Sokolniki 
Park in the summer of 1911. Closely associated with Moscow's 
modernistic circles, Saradzhev was an enthusiastic admirer of 
the new music. It was thanks to him that, beginning in 1908, 
all the latest achievements of the French school of composi- 
tion were played at the Sokolniki concerts. It was here that the 
works of Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Dukas, Florent Schmitt, as 
well as the modern Russian composers Vassilenko, Yurasov- 
sky, Krein, Gliere, Senilov, and others, were first performed. 
Here, too, young and as yet unrecognized performers, such as 
Samuel Fcinberg, Alexander Borovsky, N. Orlov, and Nina 
Koshetz, made their debuts. 

When Saradzhev went to St. Petersburg to find new works 
by young modern composers to add to his programs, I. I. Kry- 
zhanovsky introduced him to two promising young authors — 
Miaskovsky and Prokofiev. Both were received with interest 
into Moscow's musical circles and before long Miaskovsky's 



Silence and Prokofiev's Dreams and Autumnal Sketch were 
given their first hearing from the Sokolniki concert stage. 
True, neither of Prokofiev's pieces made much of an impres- 
sion on the critics. As a matter of fact, it was in Moscow that 
Prokofiev found his bitterest opponent — Leonid Sabaneyev, 
an ardent admirer of Scriabin and a confirmed modernist 
theoretician. "It seems to me," Sabaneyev wrote in Golos 
Moskvy, "that this callow musical fledgling is receiving far 
too much attention. In scope Mr. Prokofiev's talent approxi- 
mates that of Kalinnikov; I believe he would write in much 
the same vein were he as sincere as Borodin and other St. 
Petersburgites. But he is too affected, too anxious to be mod- 
ern at all costs, although modernism becomes him ill." 

Incidentally, while criticizing the young Prokofiev from his 
ultra-subjective Scriabinist standpoint, Sabaneyev nevertheless 
described the real, earthy foundation of the composer's art, 
utterly unshackled by morbid, unhealthy mysticism. "It seems 
to me/' Sabaneyev wrote about Dreams (Golos Moskvy, 
July 3, 1911), "that his 'modernism' is far too obvious. He is 
not at all 'modernistic' at heart, he has none of that intensity 
of emotion, nothing of the 'exposed nerves' required by the 
aesthetics of discordant harmonies. I would say that his soul 
is foreign to the hyperaesthetic ecstasy, the nightmarish hor- 
ror, love of suffering, and everything else upon which the spirit 
of modernism is based. He swims benignly upon the physical 
surface of things. . . ." 

But what Sabaneyev the aesthete regarded as a defect in 
Prokofiev's music was in reality its greatest virtue, that funda- 
mentally healthy quality which distinguished it from the de- 
cadent tendencies of his time. 

In July 1911 Prokofiev made his debut in St. Petersburg as 
a symphonic composer when his Dreams was included in the 
program of a concert conducted by A. Kankarovich at the Pav- 
lovsk Vauxhall. 

For a long time Prokofiev had been endeavoring unsuccess- 
fully to have his first compositions published. In 1910 two of 

2 3 


his early works had been rejected by the Russian Musical Pub- 
lishers. His efforts to persuade Bessel and Jurgenson to publish 
any of his works likewise ended in failure, notwithstanding 
Taneyev's recommendations. At last, after he had applied to 
Jurgenson a second time armed with a long and insistent letter 
from A. V. Ossovsky, his first four opera were accepted for 
publication on extremely unfavorable terms for the author 
(one hundred rubles for a sonata and twelve pieces for the 
piano, or, as Prokofiev put it in one of his letters, "a kopeck a 
bushel"). The year 1911 marked the beginning of a long and 
furious struggle with a crafty and excessively cautious pub- 
lisher, a struggle from which the composer in most cases 
emerged the victor. 1 

In the autumn of 1911 Prokofiev completed a new one-act 
opera, Magdalene, after the text by Baroness Lieven. Accord- 
ing to the critics, the opera was "akin to Richard Strauss in 
intensity of style, but minus the 'banal lyricism' of the latter" 
(Muzyka, November 1, 1911, No. 44. Notes). The text of 
Magdalene possesses no great poetical merit. Its main interest 
for the composer lay in its wealth of action and dramatic ef- 
fects, as well as its guignol plot borrowed from the epoch of 
the risorgimento. It was the story of a Venetian beauty, Mag- 
dalene, and her two lovers, Gennaro and Stenio, who meet in 
the home of their perfidious mistress and slay each other in 
mortal combat to the accompaniment of ominous flashes of 
lightning. The text was written in the cheapest decadent style, 
and supplies another instance — after Balmont — of the effect 
of the modernist environment on the young composer. Proko- 
fiev, however, was not much interested in the "profound" 
philosophy of Baroness Lieven's play. To him Magdalene was 
no more than an experiment in recitative-writing, a test for 
his pen, a sketch for future operatic compositions. The whole 
opera was based on harsh, tense, declamatory singing, with a 

1 For confirmation sec Prokofiev's letters (1913-16) preserved in Jurgcn- 
son's files. In 1916 Prokofiev broke with Jurgenson and found another pub- 
lisher (Russian Musical Publishers, managed by Serge Kousscvitzky ) . 


single melodious episode at the end (chorus of boatmen off- 
stage). Prokofiev added Magdalene to his list of works as Op. 
13, but did not succeed in having it produced cither in the 
opera class of the Conservatory, for which it had originally 
been intended, or in K. Marzhanov's Free Theater, where, 
with the assistance of Saradzhev, it was heard out with con- 
siderable interest in the summer of 1913. After a few changes 
made in 1913 Magdalene remained both unproduced and un- 

Magdalene was followed by the First Piano Concerto in 
D-flat major, originally conceived as a concertino. This was 
the composer's first mature work, something in the nature of 
a declaration of his coming of age. It was the performance 
of this concerto in Moscow and St. Petersburg 2 that brought 
real fame to Prokofiev and revealed his original artistic per- 
sonality. The power and originality of Prokofiev's pianistic 
conceptions were demonstrated to the full for the first time in 
this composition constructed on the lines of Liszt's symphonic 
poems in one movement. For the first time the sharply con- 
trasting forms typical of Prokofiev's music were united in a 
single dramatic conception — the athletic suppleness and the 
stiffness of the motor and dance themes (introduction and 
main theme), pure, pensive lyricism (central episode in G- 
sharp minor), and nervous, tragic, tense statement (subordi- 
nate theme). 

The performance of the First Concerto gave rise to a heated 
controversy in the press. Criticism was divided into two sharply 
opposing camps, one wildly enthusiastic, the other definitely 
hostile. "This energetic, rhythmic, harsh, coarse, primitive ca- 
cophony hardly deserves to be called music," cried Sabaneyev 
in Golos Moskvy. "In his desperate search for 'novelty' utterly 
foreign to his nature the author has definitely overreached 
himself. Such things do not happen with real talent." Sabane- 
yev was echoed in the Peterburgskaya Gazeta by the second- 

2 July 25, 1912, in the Moscow People's House (conducted by Saradzhev) 
and August 3, 1912, in Pavlovsk (conducted by Aslanov). 



rate critic N. Bernstein, who suggested that what Prokofiev 
needed was a strait-jacket. 

On the other hand Karatygin in Rech and Florestan (Der- 
zhanovsky) in Utro Rossii paid glowing tribute to the com- 
poser's talent. They spoke of the brilliance, the humor, the wit, 
and the rich imagination of Prokofiev's music, its "freedom 
from the mildew of decadence" (Vecherneye Vremya, August 
4, 1912). One reviewer went so far as to speak — albeit hesi- 
tantly and naively — of the historic role of Prokofiev's music: 
"Prokofiev might even mark a stage in Russian musical devel- 
opment, Glinka and Rubinstein being the first, Tchaikovsky 
and Rimsky-Korsakov the second, Glazunov and Arensky the 
third, and Scriabin and Prokofiev the fourth. Why not?" 
(Peterburgsky Listok, No. 213, August 5, 1912). 

Most symptomatic was the fact that, despite the malicious 
hissing of the retrogrades and aesthetic snobs, Prokofiev's ap- 
pearances were invariably a success as far as the general public 
was concerned. The convincing power of his graphic piano 
music could only have a direct appeal for the concert audience. 
"He played . . . with amazing assurance and freedom," re- 
marked one reviewer. "Under his fingers the piano does not so 
much sing and vibrate. as speak in the stern and convincing 
tone of a percussion instrument, the tone of the old-fashioned 
harpsichord. Yet it was precisely this convincing freedom of 
execution and these clear-cut rhythms that won the author 
such enthusiastic applause from the public" (Russkiye Vedo- 
mosti, No. 173, 1912). 

In Moscow Prokofiev gained reliable public support in the 
magazine Muzyka, organ of the Moscow modernist circles. 
The magazine's following (Derzhanovsky, Saradzhev, Belya- 
yev, Miaskovsky, and subsequently Igor Glebov 3 ) held the 
same creed as the St. Petersburg Evenings of Modern Music 
society. Orientation toward progressive trends in the West 
and a certain narrow exclusiveness and aloofness from the big 
social problems of art were combined here with a courageous 

8 Pseudonym of Boris Asafycv. — Editor. 



defense of everything new and fresh and with genuine lack of 
self-interest on the part of the organizers and contributors to 
the magazine. (None of the contributors was paid for his 
work. V. Derzhanovsky, editor and publisher, barely managed 
to make both ends meet by taking paid advertisements and by 
occasional donations from wealthy patrons.) Miaskovsky's 
brief but extremely fruitful career as music critic began in 
Muzyka in 1911. He was one of the first to discern in Proko- 
fiev the new and healthy quality that distinguished his art in 
principle from bourgeois decadence. "What pleasure and sur- 
prise," he wrote, "it affords one to come across this vivid and 
wholesome phenomenon amid the morass of effeminacy, spine- 
lessness, and anemia of today!" (Muzyka, No. 94, September 
8, 1912, review of Four Etudes, Op. 2, signed "M."). Proko- 
fiev's music "by its freshness and power . . . and its unusual 
robustness should enliven the flaccid and often stagnant at- 
mosphere of our concert life," Miaskovsky wrote in another 
review (Muzyka, No. 151, September 12, 1913, bibliographi- 
cal note signed "N. M.") . 

Two or three years later this idea was developed in the col- 
umns of the same magazine by the discerning Igor Glebov, an- 
other bold and tireless proponent of Prokofiev's music: "Can 
it be our life, our times that are reflected in his music?" wrote 
Glebov. "We are so much obsessed, on the one hand, by a 
hysterical fear of the malignant power of destiny, and, on the 
other hand, have attuned ourselves to such an extent to lan- 
guid delicacy and fragility — that is, to an art of shrinking vio- 
lets" (Muzyka, No. 249, 1916, article entitled "Recent Im- 
pressions"). "It seems to me," he maintained, "that Prokofiev 
has the right not only to dislike but actually to loathe the old 
culture. . . . Let him appear a wild and terrible creature to 
those who tremble for their 'ancient' beauty, to which they 
cling in mortal fear lest it should die, lest some new world out- 
look should come and take its place" (Muzyka, December 27, 

The struggle waged by the progressive elements of Muzyka 

2 7 


(Miaskovsky, Glebov) for public recognition of Prokofiev's 
talent and against the fading culture of the decadence was an 
expression of the militant outpost of the new Russian art, blaz- 
ing the trail, however intuitively and gropingly, toward the 
aesthetics of our day. The bold polemics and active, aggressive 
policy pursued by these progressive men recall the most illus- 
trious pages in the militant past of Russian music — namely, 
the struggle waged by Stasov and Cui for the recognition of 
the young musicians of the Five. From this standpoint the per- 
sistent efforts of Miaskovsky in the columns of Muzyka to se- 
cure the inclusion of Prokofiev's works in the programs of the 
big symphony concerts (the Belyayev and Siloti concerts) is 
extremely symptomatic (Muzyka, No. 125, 1913, and No. 178, 
April 19, 1914). 

Particularly impressive was an article by Miaskovsky (pub- 
lished under a pseudonym) entitled "St. Petersburg Fogs." 
This ridiculed Siloti and charged him with conservatism and 
indifference to the fate of the new generation of composers. 4 
This struggle ended with the complete victory of Prokofiev 
and his comrades-in-arms and the defeat of the over-cautious 
leaders of the concert life of the time. 

The editor of Muzyka tried to persuade Prokofiev to try his 
hand at music reviews and criticism, but after a few minor 
bibliographical items on the chamber music of Stanchinsky, 
Miaskovsky, and Stravinsky and one or two analyses of his own 
early works he abandoned his attempts at journalism. 

Encouraged by the success of his First Concerto and the rec- 
ognition of his experiments in new fields, Prokofiev produced 
in 1912 and 191 3 music that was still more audacious and vivid 
in idiom. In 1912 he wrote his Toccata, Op. 11, with its swift 
machine-like rhythm and its curious polytonal and constructi- 
vist effects. In August of the same year he completed his Sec- 
ond Sonata, Op. 14, a remarkable piece of music built on 

* Siloti refused to include Prokofiev's music in the programs of his sym- 
phony concerts on the grounds that Prokofiev "had not yet found himself" (this 
was after his Second Concerto for the piano). 



sharply contrasting moods, shifting with startling suddenness 
from romantic yearning to malicious satire. His Ballad for the 
cello, Op. 15, written at the request of the wealthy amateur 
cellist N. P. Ruzsky, the dynamic Scherzo in A minor, Op. 12, 
and the first of the pieces later to be called Sarcasms relate to 
the same period. 

Even more "Left" in musical language was his output in 
1913 (the Second Piano Concerto, second and third Sar- 
casms, Scherzo for four bassoons). In the Second, G minor, 
Concerto for the piano, begun in the latter part of 1912, the 
composer strove for greater depth of content in contrast to the 
somewhat superficial bravura or "football" touch in the D-flat 
major Concerto that immediately preceded it. 5 

The same touch of seriousness and restrained lyricism made 
itself felt in some of the pieces of Op. 12 written that year 
(Legend, Caprice, Allemande) . Here, too (Prelude in C major 
for harp or piano), there were flashes of that neo-classicism 
which was to declare itself four years later in the Classical 

The pianoforte cycle, Op. 12, was a collection of compo- 
sitions of different periods and styles, partly revised. 6 Some of 
them bore traces of the young Prokofiev's predilection, subse- 
quently pointed out by Lunacharsky, for the "nursery." It is 
curious to note the youthful circle of friends and acquaintances 
reflected in the numerous dedications of this opus. Here we 
find Tcherepnin and "Kolyechka [Nikolai] Miaskovsky," 
"Vasyusha [Vassili] Morolev," his old Sontsovo chum, V. 
Deshevov and M. Schmithof, his Conservatory friends, and 
Eleonora Damskaya, the harpist, side by side with quaint 

5 The athletic, "football" quality of the First Concerto had been mentioned 
more than once by hostile critics. Curiously enough, the young composer actu- 
ally did take an interest in sports at that period. He attended gymnastic drill 
in an athletic society, and even wrote a sports march that was published by 
the society. 

6 A comparison between the original version of the march composed in 
Sontsovka in 1906 and the final version written in 1913 will reveal the inter- 
esting development of harmonic modernization and tone color this simple 
childish piece underwent. 

2 9 


childish nicknames such as "Boryusya" (Boris Zakharov) and 
others. The young composer's circle of acquaintances was ex- 
tremely wide. It included half-starved Conservatory students 
as well as mature and adult musicians, old friends from his na- 
tive village, and fashionable young men of the world. 7 

Prokofiev at that time was a curious combination of the dili- 
gent, hard-working musician and the spoiled, capricious child. 
Many of his ill-wishers could not forgive him for what they 
termed his impudent behavior. He had no respect for author- 
ity and did not hesitate to voice his opinions, however ex- 
treme. His first meeting with the already famous Igor Stravin- 
sky was marred in this way. After hearing the author play his 
Firebird in piano arrangement at one of the modernist con- 
certs, Prokofiev bluntly told him that he didn't like the music: 
"Nothing interesting, rather like Sadkol" Stravinsky was 
deeply offended. True, this lack of understanding changed 
later to a keen interest and respect for the work of this legisla- 
tor of new musical tastes. 

In the summer of 1913 Prokofiev went abroad for the first 
time, visiting Paris and London and spending part of his sum- 
mer vacationing in the Auvergne. 

That same summer his name resounded once again in the 
musical world of St. Petersburg. On August 23 his Second 
Piano Concerto was performed for the first time at Pavlovsk 
under the baton of Aslanov. This time the young composer 
won the attention of the general public. 

"The debut of this pianoforte cubist and futurist has 
aroused universal interest," said the Peterburgskaya Gazeta. 
"Already in the train to Pavlovsk one heard on all sides 'Pro- 
kofiev, Prokofiev, Prokofiev.' A new piano star!" 

"On the platform appears a lad with the face of a Peter- 
schule 8 student. It is Sergei Prokofiev," one newspaper feature 

7 One of his best friends at that period was Maximilian Schmithof, the 
pianist with whom he had studied at the Conservatory. Schmithof subsequently 
committed suicide. The Second Sonata, Second Piano Concerto, Fourth So- 
nata, and Allemande from Op. 12 arc dedicated to him. 

s An exclusive German school in St. Petersburg. 



writer glibly described the event. "He takes his seat at the 
piano and appears to be either dusting the keys or trying out 
the notes with a sharp, dry touch. The audience does not know 
what to make of it. Some indignant murmurs are audible. One 
couple gets up and runs toward the exit. 'Such music is enough 
to drive you crazy!' is the general comment. The hall empties. 
The young artist ends his concerto with a relentlessly discord- 
ant combination of brasses. The audience is scandalized. The 
majority hisses. With a mocking bow Prokofiev resumes his 
seat and plays an encore. The audience flies, with exclamations 
of: 'To the devil with all this futurist music! We came here 
for enjoyment. The cats on our roof make better music than 
this!' " (Peterburgskaya Gazeta, August 25, 1913). 

Most of the critics could not find words to express the full 
measure of their indignation at this gross violation of musical 
dogma. Y. Kurdyumov referred to the concerto as a "babel of 
insane sounds without form or harmony heaped one upon an- 
other" (Peterburgsky Listok, August 24, 1913). N. Bernstein 
called it "a cacophony of sounds having nothing whatever in 
common with genuine music. . . . Prokofiev's cadenzas, for 
example, are unbearable; they are such a musical mess that one 
might think them the result of an inkwell spilt on the paper" 
(Peterburgskaya Gazeta, August 25, 1913). Not far behind in 
vituperative criticism was M. Ivanov of the Black Hundred 
Novoye Vremya. 

What a bold challenge to this malignant chorus were the 
prophetic words uttered by V. G. Karatygin, the only critic 
who took up the cudgels in unreserved defense of Prokofiev's 
new concerto! "The fact that the public hissed means noth- 
ing," he wrote. "Ten years from now it will atone for last 
night's catcalls by unanimous applause for this new composer 
with a European reputation" (Rech, March 25, 1913). 

Curiously enough, Prokofiev's sensational appearance in 
Pavlovsk almost coincided in time with the famous tour of 
Russian cities made by the Russian futurists — Mayakovsky, 
Kamensky, and Burlyuk. The audacious, shocking utterances 

3 1 


of the young Mayakovsky and his friends evoked exactly the 
same reaction from the public and the critics as Prokofiev's 
piano performances. It is not surprising that three years later 
one of the critics, in an effort to sting Prokofiev for his non- 
conformism, accused him of aping Mayakovsky (N. Shebuyev 
in Zritel, December 2, 1916). 

In November 1913 Prokofiev met Debussy, who had come 
to Russia at the invitation of Koussevitzky. In honor of De- 
bussy's arrival in St. Petersburg the magazine Apollon arranged 
a concert on November 28, at which Prokofiev played his 
Legend, Op. 12, and one of the etudes of his Op. 2. Debussy 
displayed interest in his work. Prokofiev in his turn attended 
the concert given by the celebrated leader of musical impres- 
sionism, but found Debussy's music "not sufficiently meaty." 
It was only much later, when he lived in Paris, that Prokofiev 
began to appreciate the new French music to the full. 

The year 1913-14 was Prokofiev's last year at the Conserva- 
tory. He conducted at public concerts frequently during this 
period. Pending the final examinations Prokofiev concentrated 
on the piano. At the same time he continued to give recitals 
of his latest compositions in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. 
His prestige as a composer was notably increasing. On Febru- 
ary 7, 1914 the Evenings of Modern Music allotted him the 
entire second half of their program for the performance of his 
Second Sonata, Ballad for the cello, and a number of piano 
pieces, Op. 12. His Moscow opponents (Sabaneyev and 
others) again poured vials of abuse on the composer's head. 
The Second Sonata was their pet anathema. During that same 
winter Prokofiev was at last included in the program of a large 
symphony concert (Koussevitzky's symphony matinee in Mos- 
cow, February 16, 1914). 

The composer's fight for the first prize when graduating 
from the Conservatory is an interesting episode in his Auto- 
biography. "While I did not especially mind the poor rating 
I received for composition," he recalls, "this time ambition 
got the better of me and I resolved to win a first for the piano." 

3 2 


The sportsman in him was aroused by the excitement of the 
contest, the spirit that was so vividly depicted a year later in 
his Gambler. Not that there was anything of the gambler's 
fatalism in his make-up: his "game" was founded on cool cal- 
culation. Instead of the customary fugue from Das wohltem- 
periertes Klavier he chose one of the lesser-known fugues from 
Die Kunst der Fuge; instead of the classic concerto he included 
his own D-flat major Concerto. But it was not so easy to cir- 
cumvent the old established Conservatory regulations. The 
examining board demanded that each examiner be provided 
with a copy of the "terrible" concerto one week before the 
examinations. This hurdle, however, was also overcome. At 
the composer's request furgenson printed the piano score in 
time for the examination so that each of the twenty examiners 
received his copy in good time. "When I mounted the plat- 
form the first thing I saw was my concerto spread out on 
twenty laps. What a sight for a composer who had just suc- 
ceeded in getting some of his work published!" 

The First Concerto, brilliantly played by the composer, 
staggered the Conservatory professors. The jury split into two 
sharply opposed camps: Essipova's group and a number of 
young professors (Kalantarova, Drozdov, Vengerova, Lemba, 
and Medem) were in favor, the powerful academic group 
headed by Glazunov (Lyapunov, Lavrov, and Dubasov) was 
against. The most vehement protest and expression of indig- 
nation were voiced by Dubasov. Nevertheless, the Conserva- 
tory was forced to recognize the talent of its unruly graduate. 
By a majority of votes the Rubinstein first prize for the piano 
was awarded to Prokofiev. 9 Glazunov, the director of the Con- 
servatory, who had just voted against what he called the 
"harmful tendencies" reflected in Prokofiev's work, was 
obliged personally to announce the results of the contest. On 
May 11, at the graduation exercises, the First Concerto was 

9 Seven pianists contested for the prize, Prokofiev's closest rival being N. 
Golubovskaya (now professor at the Leningrad Conservatory), a pupil of 



played again with great success by the orchestra under Tche- 
repnin's direction. The entire press of St. Petersburg reported 
the event, carrying photographs of the prize-winner and even 
interviews with him. As far as the musical press as a whole 
was concerned, Prokofiev had arrived. Even his enemies were 
now compelled to recognize that an outstanding musician had 
entered the arena. 

4 : Sturm und Drang 

Then I told him that I was a heretic and 
a barbarian . . . and that I did not care 
a fig for all these archbishops, cardinals, 
monseigneurs, etc. 

Dostoyevsky: The Gambler 


'Y 1914 Prokofiev was firmly established in the world 
of music. This erstwhile enfant terrible, this prankish, mis- 
chievous lad, had won universal recognition. His name was 
mentioned more and more often in the press of the capital. 
He was received in the art salons of St. Petersburg, and theatri- 
cal circles began to display an interest in his work. 

The composer, who had made such a brilliant showing as a 
concert virtuoso, was now passionately interested in the musi- 
cal theater, a sphere that had fascinated him since early child- 
hood. Even during their Conservatory years Prokofiev and 
Miaskovsky had toyed with the idea of using Dostoyevsky 's 
novels for librettos. Prokofiev's imagination had been captured 
by the dramatic, gripping plot of The Gambler, and Miaskov- 
sky had planned an opera based on The Idiot. 

But 1914 brought new ideas and subjects to the composer. 
A tremendous role in the subsequent development of Proko- 
fiev as an artist was played by his friendship with Diaghilcv, 
the master mind of the rising generation of painters and musi- 



cians. On the eve of the war Diaghilev's ballet seasons abroad 
were among the most fashionable and sensational artistic at- 
tractions in Europe. The daring and novelty of his media and 
his brilliance of form were indisputable. The latest sensation, 
following Stravinsky's Firebird and Petrouchka, had been 
he Sacre du printemps, the barbaric brutality of which was 
absolutely without precedent. With all its technical brilliance 
this music, nevertheless, pointed the way to many anarchic 
extremes in postwar European music. Yet this was the last 
word in modernism and could not but interest the young Pro- 
kofiev, with his avid thirst for everything new. 

In June 1914 Prokofiev made a special trip to London for 
the opening of the Diaghilev season. The trip was in the na- 
ture of a reward from his mother for his successful graduation 
from the Conservatory. The young composer heard Stravin- 
sky's Firebird and Petrouchka and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe 
for the first time. He heard Chaliapin and Richard Strauss as 
well. Prokofiev, however, did not unreservedly embrace the 
new music in all cases. "Their verve, inventiveness, and 
'trickiness' interested me immensely, but I found them lack- 
ing in subject matter." 

Walter Nuvel, who accompanied Prokofiev, introduced 
him to Diaghilev, who condescended to listen to the Second 
Piano Concerto. There was talk of Prokofiev's participating in 
the Diaghilev programs. The composer mentioned his plan to 
write an opera after Dostoyevsky's Gambler, but Diaghilev re- 
jected the idea at once on the grounds that opera was out of 
date and was being completely ousted by ballet and panto- 
mime. 1 The negotiations ended with Prokofiev receiving an 
order for a new ballet "on Russian fairy-tale or prehistoric 
themes." Diaghilev advised Nuvel and Karatygin to introduce 

1 In his denunciation of opera Diaghilev is known to have gone to the most 
absurd extremes. He gave a new interpretation to Rimsky-Korsakov's Golden 
Cockerel, making a ballet of it by shifting the singers to the orchestra and leav- 
ing the dancers in full possession of the stage. On hearing Prokofiev's Second 
Concerto Diaghilev also proposed producing it in the form of a ballet, but the 
idea never materialized. 



the composer to some of the young poets, including Sergei 

Diaghilev's word was law. On returning to his native land, 
Prokofiev laid aside his plans for The Gambler and com 
menced work on a Scythian ballet entitled Ala and holli. 
WTiile Gorodetsky was finding suitable images for a Scvthian 
plot, Prokofiev occupied himself by revising the orchestration 
of his Sinfonietta, Op. 5, which he intended for inclusion in 
the program of Siloti's concerts. 2 

This Scythian, prehistoric "barbarian" subject matter was 
actuallv foreign to Prokofiev's nature and inner conviction. He 
had essentially no sympathy for the "Scythianism" adopted 
by the Russian bourgeois poets, who were bored with languid 
yearnings and parlor mvsticism and were seeking solace in the 
instinctive animal wisdom of primitive man. Nor had he any 
wish, like the symbolists, to glorify the "future Hun," the 
plebeian barbarian who was to shatter and destroy all bour- 
geois civilization. For Stravinsky, Le Sacre du printemps was in 
the nature of an ideological declaration, a glorification of the 
primordial elemental forces of nature, a revival of savage, 
pagan instincts as an antidote against the morbid atmosphere 
of decadence. Prokofiev, on the other hand, regarded such 
subject matter far more simply and soberly, without any 
"philosophical soul-searching" whatever. For him the ballet 
Ala and Lolli was merelv a convenient opportunity to give full 
rein to his daring harmonic idiom — which had been seeking 
an outlet in the Sarcasms and in the Second Concerto — to 
"try his hand at something big," something monumental and 

After a long tussle with the ponderous and static material of 
Scythian mythology, Prokofiev and Gorodetsky together de- 
vised a plot. It was briefly as follows: The Scythians are wor- 
shipping their favorite gods, Veles, the sun god, and Ala, a 
wooden idol, when one night a cunning stranger, Chuzhbog, 

2 The Sinfonietta was first performed at Siloti's concerts on October 24, 



aided and abetted by the dark forces of evil, tries to steal Ala. 
His spell, however, works only in the darkness; under the pale 
light of the moon he is powerless. To Ala's rescue comes Lolli, 
the warrior. Chuzhbog would slay him, but in a timely inter- 
vention the sun god smites Chuzhbog with his blinding rays. 

By the autumn of 1914 the piano score of Ala and Lolli was 
ready in the rough. To compensate for the dramatic short- 
comings of the plot, Prokofiev directed the whole of his com- 
poser's genius to inventing the crisp, acrid chords, the savage, 
archaic melodies and crude rhythms most suited to the nature 
of the subject, Le Sacre du printemps, which Prokofiev had 
heard in concert performance but "had not understood," may 
have subconsciously influenced him in this work. 

In the meantime the war had broken out and the conse- 
quent high cost of living inevitably affected the material well- 
being of the Prokofiev familv. The composer was obliged to 
apply more and more frequently to his publisher for advances. 

In his correspondence with Jurgenson, Prokofiev insisted 
on his rights. "You want to pav me little more than the few 
rubles you will receive in your shops for the sale of one or two 
piano scores so that in a few years' time my ballet will be yours 
for all time" (letter dated May 1, 1915). 

His first encounter with life's hardships brought the young 
artist closer to earth, opening his eves to the reality around 

While working on Ala and Lolli the composer laid aside 
the ballet a number of times to bring some of his own ideas to 
life. This was something of a relaxation from the strain of his 
quest for new forms. It resulted at the end of 1914 in that 
splendid specimen of Prokofiev's vocal lyrical music. The Ugly 
Duckling, after the Andersen fairy-tale. While in his work 
on the ballet the predominant features were decorative design, 
the wild exoticism of ritual scenes, and violently colorful sound 
effects, in The Ugly Duckling we find the warm human note 
confidently asserting itself against a cleverly conceived fain- 
tale background. In the lyrics of The Ugly Duckling the deep 



inner content was tangibly felt; in Prokofiev's interpretation 
the fairy-tale was a sincere, if allegorical, story of true man 
contrasted with the ugly world of narrow-minded philistinism 
and hidebound routine. This was how the music struck Maxim 
Gorky, who attended several of Prokofiev's recitals. "Why, 
he has written that story about himself," exclaimed Gorky 
after hearing The Ugly Duckling. 3 

After an extremely successful performance of his Second 
Concerto played at the RMO (Russian Musical Society) on 
January 24, 1915, Prokofiev left for Italy on February 6 at the 
invitation of Diaghilev. After looking over the outline for Ala 
and Lolli Diaghilev rejected the ballet on the grounds that the 
plot was stilted and the music dull "a la Tcherepnin." By way 
of compensation the all-powerful entrepreneur arranged for 
Prokofiev to appear at a symphony concert in the Augusteo in 
Rome. The concert, held on March 7, 1915 — Prokofiev's first 
appearance on a foreign concert platform — was widely adver- 
tised and had good publicity. While few of the Italian papers 
were able to grasp all the complexities of the Second Piano 
Concerto, all paid tribute to the brilliant performance of the 

At Diaghilev's home Prokofiev met Stravinsky and such 
leading Italian futurists as Marinetti and Balla, who had been 
invited to discuss the current ballet production based on Nea- 
politan carnivals. A complete reconciliation was effected with 
Stravinsky, and the two composers at their host's request 
played a four-hand arrangement of Petrouchka for his Italian 
guests. 4 The long and rather unstable friendship between Pro- 
kofiev and Stravinsky, interrupted time and again by various 
disagreements in principle, dated from this time. The futurists 
did not particularly impress Prokofiev. Their urbanist ideas 

8 The music was first performed on January 17, 1915 at a concert of the 
Evenings of Modern Music. A. Zhercbtsova-Andrcycva was the singer. 

1 For details of this meeting between Prokofiev and Stravinsky sec the hit- 
ter's About My Life: "At last I had an opportunity to enter into closer con- 
t.if t with this fine musician whose value has hcen recognized by the whole 
modern musical world" (p. 123). 



were foreign to him, as can be seen from the matter-of-fact 
tone of his article entitled "The Musical Instruments of the 
Futurists/' published in the magazine Muzyka (April 8, 191 5) 
on his return to his native land. 

His second meeting with Diaghilev played what might be 
termed a historic role in Prokofiev's career as a composer. 
When he rejected Ala and Lolli, Diaghilev asked Prokofiev to 
write a new ballet on Russian folk-tale themes. The music of 
the Second Concerto (the subordinate theme of the finale) 

4. Second Piano Concerto, subordinate theme of finale. 

showed that Prokofiev was no stranger to Russian national 
melody. Diaghilev felt this. "Write music that will be truly 
Russian," he told the composer. "They've forgotten how to 
write Russian music in that rotten St. Petersburg of yours." 
Looking through Afanasyev's collection of Russian folk tales, 5 
they selected two amusing stories about a jester, and together 
worked out a ballet libretto. The stories, collected in the Perm 
Government, were about a jolly village wag of the type of 
Pushkin's Balda who outwits the village priest, the priest's 
wife, the rich merchant, and seven jesters. The libretto of the 
future ballet was given a rather long-winded title: The Tale of 
the Buffoon Who Outwitted Seven Buffoons. It is characteris- 
tic that the priest and his wife, the principal comic characters 

5 Collection of Fairy-tales by A. N. Afanasyev (State Literary Publishing 
House, 1940), Vol. Ill, p. 206. 



in the story, were deleted by Diaghilev, who was not interested 
in anticlerical satire. 

Of course, the Russian style embraced by Diaghilev had 
nothing in common with the progressive national aspirations 
that had distinguished the work of the Five or the Peredvizh- 
niki. In the present case it was merely used as an excuse for 
original, ingenious stylization, for aestheticizing the primitive 
simplicity of the old-fashioned village folk-tale. Such, for ex- 
ample, were the deliberately simplified "Russian" paintings bv 
the artists of the "Ass's Tail" group (Goncharova and Lario- 
nov) who copied the crude style of village prints and sign- 
boards. Stravinsky's Renard and Histoire du soldat, composed 
two or three years later, were done in the same manner. Al- 
though The Buffoon 6 essentially belongs in this category as 
well, notes of a live, warm lyricism and a keen folk humor break 
through the otherwise stylized music of the ballet. 

The Buffoon and the quest for a national style involved in 
this work absorbed Prokofiev completely. He composed the 
first draft of all six scenes during the summer of 1915. The 
work went easily and pleasantly. The whimsicality of the tale 
lent itself to pungent musical caricature, and, what was most 
important, while working on the ballet the composer discov- 
ered the world of Russian song melody which he freely repro- 
duced without quotations or ethnographical research. 

His second return from abroad and his contract with Di- 
aghilev boosted Prokofiev's prestige considerably in the busi- 
ness circles of Russian music. Concert organizations that had 
ignored him now began to shower him with invitations. In 
1915 his name figured on the symphony programs of Siloti, 
Koussevitzky, the court orchestra, and the summer symphony 
seasons in Sestroretsk and Pavlovsk. The additude of the pub- 
lic was likewise markedly changed. "Only three years ago," 
wrote Karatygin, "most of our music-lovers saw in Prokofiev's 
compositions merely the excesses of a mischievous anarchism 
that threatened to upset the whole of Russian music. Now 

6 Usually known in the United States as Chout. — Editor. 



they won't let him leave the stage before he has played innu- 
merable encores" (Rech, No. 186, 1915). 

By the end of the summer the piano score of The Buffoon 
was ready. Prokofiev sent it to Diaghilev by post, being unable 
to go to Italy himself owing to the war in the Balkans. In the 
meantime he had been working on the orchestration of the 
rejected music of Ala and Lolli, which he had decided to re- 
write as a symphonic suite. This was his first large-scale and 
fully mature orchestral work, as until then he had written 
small and essentially juvenile symphonic pieces and accom- 
paniments to concertos. The four movements of the Scythian 
Suite combined most of the material of the ballet (first move- 
ment, "Worship of Ala and Veles"; second movement, 
"Chuzhbog and the Dance of the Evil Spirits"; third move- 
ment, "Night"; fourth movement, "Lolli's March and the 
Sun Procession"). The composer wrote for a huge orchestra 
with eight French horns, five trumpets, additional woodwinds, 
piano, and a complicated selection of nine percussion instru- 
ments not counting the kettle-drum. Prokofiev's scope and 
originality made themselves most strongly felt in the two last 
movements of the suite, particularly in the grand and powerful 
finale depicting the powerful elemental beaut}' of the rising 

That same year, in the intervals between the more impor- 
tant commissioned works, the composer found time to give 
outlet to his own purely lyrical musical inclinations. Early 
in 1915 he conceived the idea for a violin concertino, but after 
composing a delightfully serene and lovely melody (the fu- 
ture leitmotiv of the D major Violin Concerto) he laid the 
work aside to await better times. The same year saw the advent 
of a number of colorful and charming piano pieces, something 
in the nature of pages from a diarv, a record of the emotions 
of the composer, passing impressions of the outer world. These 
pieces were later entitled Fugitive Visions. (Nos. 5, 6, 10, 16, 
and 17 were composed in 1915). 

It was in the summer of 1915 too that Prokofiev composed 


his cycle of songs, Op. 23, which included such notable items 
as the Wizard (words by Agnivtsev) and Under the Roof 
(words by Valentine Goryansky). In the autumn he turned 
his attention to The Gambler. Recalling this period, Prokofiev 
says that "the Russian outweighed the foreign in the scales of 
my personal interests." 

And if we compare these Russian interests with the prob- 
lems in stylization set him by Diaghilev during his stay in 
Italy, we find that the composer's personal creative ideas had 
far greater depth and meaning. True, these ideas were not yet 
properly grasped and digested. Nevertheless he was intuitively 
groping toward the bigger human themes in art and serious 
problems of a social nature that Diaghilev and the modernists 
studiously eschewed. 

The last of the Sarcasms already contained not only clever 
harmony and rhythms but also a compact philosophy akin to 
the "laughter through tears" theme of Gogol's Cloak and 
Dead Souls: "Sometimes we laugh maliciously at someone or 
something, but when we look closer, we see how pitiful and 
wretched is the object of our laughter, and then we grow 
ashamed and the laughter rings in our ears, but now the laugh 
is on us. . . ." This program was not declared. Nevertheless, 
its existence showed that besides laughing and scoffing (as, 
for instance, in the caricature Scherzo (or four bassoons) the 
composer had a searching mind and a desire to perceive and 
feel life in his own way. 

It was no accident, either, that the verses of Valentine 
Goryansky, who contributed to the radical satiric magazine 
Novy Satirikon, should appeal to Prokofiev. In this period the 
Novy Satirikon published the verses of Mayakovsky, his bit- 
ingly sarcastic "hymns" (Hymn to Dinner, Hymn to the 
Judge, etc.). Some of the poets of the Novy Satirikon, as 
V. Shklovsky put it, "resembled Mayakovsky, but the resem- 
blance was not apparent until much later." Goryansky's urban, 
extremely prosaic and mundane lyricism expressed his sympa- 
thies for the world of city slums and the common folk crushed 

4 2 


by the soullessness and brutal exploitation of the "machine 

The song Under the Roof, written to Goryansky's text, 
gives a curious insight into the essence of the young Prokofiev's 
lyricism — his genuine love for life and nature in spite of the 
oppressive atmosphere of the capitalist city. 

... It was a week ago that someone told me 

I was blind and knew not life's joys, 

That I was all sunk in working and sweating, 

That my children were sin's ugly toys. . . . 

But that's not so, now! Really not so! 

My children have all the graces! 

But I'm poor, and that's why they starve and are famished, 

What gives them such pinched little faces. 

I see the wide world through my one tiny window, 

My soul is not blinded to light. 

Oh, I see the sun climbing higher and higher, 

Through banks of clouds and the night. 

And at the end the calm and serene conclusion: 

Who said that I live not knowing nature 
Affronted me, spoke in vain. 
No! I have felt fair nature's glad smile! 
Never mind that we are beggars in town. . . . 
My children are not uglv and full of guile — 
Only wan and weak, and pressed down. 

Prokofiev took this particular song very seriously, giving it 
a great deal of thought and "taking great pains to convey in 
the music every shade of feeling contained in the text." And 
only a certain mechanical quality in the accompaniment, a 
preponderance of automatic ostinato figures, somewhat de- 
tracted from the impression of the song as a whole. 

A unique phenomenon among the Russian vocal lyrics of 
that period was the Wizard, a bold challenge to rose-colored, 
philistine complacency, a specimen of bitter musical carica- 
ture, a sphere unexplored in Russian vocal music since the 
days of Mussorgsky's Classic and He-Goat. 



These songs were direct stepping-stones to The Gambler, 
which Prokofiev began to compose in the autumn of 1915, 
notwithstanding Diaghilev's vehement disapproval. And this 
stubborn striving to continue his own work on the opera in the 
face of the "anti-operatic" tendencies of the leading modern- 
ist circles was evidence of the progressiveness of Prokofiev, of 
his disagreement in principle with the empty formalism of the 
Diaghilev school. 

The Gambler had been conceived as a realistic, lifelike per- 
formance. The composer wrote the libretto himself, striving to 
retain the Dostoyevsky dialogues intact (with the fourth act 
only was he assisted by his intimate friend B. N. Demchinsky) . 
Lively and dynamic action and flexibility of the recitatives, 
which were based on the actual intonation of ordinary speech 
— such were the aims Prokofiev strove to achieve in his opera 
in obvious continuation of the operatic traditions of Mussorg- 
sky, particularly in Marriage. 

As distinct from the stylization and decorative problems of 
Ala and Lolli and The Buffoon, The Gambler was a problem in 
character-portrayal and social protest. The characters in The 
Gambler — the stupid, fatuous General, the shameless hussy 
Mademoiselle Blanche, the Marquis, the crowd of half-crazed 
gamblers poisoned by their passion for gain — are wretched and 
disgusting in their cynical frankness. The gambling den, with 
its merciless hold on the destiny of people, ruining some and 
enriching others, presented as a terrible symbol of fate, an em- 
bodiment of the soulless force of the bourgeois "hard cash" 
principle, is a theme quite often chosen by Russian writers and 
composers (Lermontov's Masquerade, The Queen of Spades 
by Pushkin and Tchaikovsky). What obviously attracted Pro- 
kofiev was the opportunity to create characters in striking con- 
trast to this repulsive world — Alexei with his sardonic humor 
and provocative behavior, Babulenka (Granny), straightfor- 
ward and outspoken, and Pauline, impulsive, passionate, and 
nervously exalted. The composer has laid particular emphasis 
on all those scenes in which Alcxci shocks and scandalizes the 



society around him. It is no accident that Prokofiev begins his 
opera with the monologue of "the virtuous father," in which 
Alexei exposes the cheeseparing avarice of the bourgeois familv 
with its blind worship of all-powerful gold. 7 

In the music of The Gambler one is struck by a number of 
finely wrought details revealing the keen eye of the composer, 
his remarkable gift for clever, laconic character portrayal: the 
foolish remarks of the General, the false, hypocritical coquetry 
of Mademoiselle Blanche, the broad Russian melodies of 

5. The Gambler, Act II, theme of Babulenka. 

Babulenka, and the feverish dynamic effect of the scene in the 
gambling house. 

Nevertheless, in his desire to turn his back completely on the 

7 Here is the text of this monologue: "The virtuous father, the obedient 
family, a stork on the roof, flowers in front of the house. All work like oxen 
and save money: money, money, money is the motto. The daughter is an old 
maid. She was given no dowry. The youngest son was sold into servitude and 
the money added to the capital. At last sufficient wealth had been accumulated 
to enable the oldest son of forty to man}'. The father blesses him, weeps, 
moralizes, hands over his capital, and dies. And so on until six generations later 
there is the solid respectable firm of Hoppe & Co." Prokofiev reworked the text 
himself, leaving it brief and pithy. 



old operatic aria the composer went to the other extreme, with 
the result that the unnatural, caricaturesque quality of the reci- 
tative, the fragmentary nature and deliberate dissonance of 
the orchestral accompaniment, are clearly overdone. From the 
standpoint of pure form, this opera anticipated many of the 
modernistic operas of the thirties. The subject matter of The 
Gambler, however, bore witness to some interesting processes 
at work in the mind of the young composer in 1915-16. The 
challenging, provocative tone of the opera, its malicious gro- 
tesqueness at that time, undoubtedly bore an affinity to the 
scourging satire of the young Mayakovsky. 

The bulk of The Gambler was written in five and a half 
months, from October 1915 to March 1916. The "Left" ex- 
tremes indulged in by the young composer in his search for 
harsh and unaccustomed harmony puzzled even his well-wish- 
ers. "Do you really understand what you are pounding out of 
that piano of yours?" was the remark made to him once by his 
irritated mother, who until then had patiently endured all the 
excesses of her talented son. "We didn't speak to each other 
for two days after that," Prokofiev recalls. 

Work on The Gambler was stimulated by Prokofiev's intro- 
duction to Albert Coates, who had promised to produce the 
opera on the stage of the Maryinsky Theater. At that time 
Telyakovsky, the manager of the imperial theatres, not wishing 
to lag behind Diaghilev, permitted the introduction of many- 
modernistic novelties in the Maryinsky. "Left" producers were 
invited and numerous interesting novelties staged, or at least 
rehearsed (for example, Strauss's Elektra). This policy was ac- 
tively supported by Albert Coates, who was gradually taking 
over the reins of management from the aged Napravnik. 

It is surprising that, notwithstanding the militant principles 
expressed in his music, particularly in such novel compositions 
as the Scythian Suite, The Gambler, and the Sarcasms, Proko- 
fiev was not given to propounding his views in the kind of pub- 
lic declarations made by his contemporaries in other fields of 
art. While most of the "Left" poets and painters of his genera- 



tion were constantly indulging in loud declarations of their 
opinions, delivering "slaps in the face of public taste," and 
mercilessly flaying their opponents, he preferred to act exclu- 
sively through the medium of art itself. Only from his letters 
and his few attempts at criticism is it possible to form an idea 
of his aesthetic views at that period. They were, briefly, a pas- 
sionate defense of anything new and a violent distaste for all 
that was stereotyped and passively imitative. 

"When I drew the attention of a certain pianist to the new 
sonata," he wrote in a review of a new piano sonata by Mias- 
kovsky, "he said. 'What? No, thank you. I had better learn to 
play all of Beethoven's sonatas before tackling something new.' 
A weighty argument, of course, but how utterly hopeless!" 
(Muzyka, No. 210, February 14, 191 5) . At the end of the same 
article the reviewer bitterly condemned those who "fear the 
mob taste and are too lazy to tackle new things." Elsewhere he 
sharply criticized a young "Frenchified" composer for allowing 
himself to lose his national identity for the sake of aping the 
French impressionists. A letter to Jurgenson (May 1, 1915), 
criticizing the Moscow publisher for his niggardly methods, is 
annihilating in its frankness: 

"You have published scarcely a single genuine composer 
since Tchaikovsky," wrote Prokofiev. "All the best names are 
invariably to be found somewhere else, while hundreds of scrib- 
blers whose names figure neither on programs nor even in the 
musical calendar are firmly established on your shelves. True, 
you can pay them in small change, but, after all, you head a 
first-class publishing firm and not an asylum for failures." 

While working on The Gambler Prokofiev had experienced 
the satisfaction of the sensational success of his Scythian Suite, 
performed for the first time at a Siloti concert held on January 
16, 1916. Once again Prokofiev's music evoked a storm of min- 
gled enthusiasm and indignation. 

"The first movement of the suite," reported one reviewer, 
"was received in puzzled silence, the second and third move- 
ments were applauded, the finale caused a heated skirmish 



between two camps, the one applauding wildly, the other vio- 
lently hissing" (Dzbanovsky in the Vecherneye Vremya, Janu- 
ary 17, 1916). The daring music put Glazunov to flight; he 
could not endure the dazzling power of the sunrise finale. The 
yellow press pounced on this fact with malicious glee. "One 
cannot but sympathize with A. K. Glazunov," said the Petro- 
gradskaya Gazeta, "who, notwithstanding his notorious good 
nature, got up during the performance of Prokofiev's 'music' 
and demonstratively left the hall. ... In appraising the new 
composition . . . the director of the Conservatory did not 
mince words" (Petrogradskaya Gazeta, January 17, 1916, re- 
view by N. Bernstein entitled: "A Siloti Concert, or the Inci- 
dent in the Maryinsky Theater" ) . 

"Hair-raising musical rowdyism," "a new way of smudging 
musical score sheets," "the super-music of the future," "horse- 
racing," and "cacophony" were some of the stinging comments 
of the music critics. Even the progressive Muzykalny Sovre- 
mennik, organ of the St. Petersburg modernist circles, which 
had taken the place of the defunct Evenings of Modern Music, 
devoted an extremely ambiguous article, full of reservations 
and contradictions, in its issue No. 15 for 1916 to Prokofiev's 

Differences of opinion with regard to the music of Prokofiev 
and Stravinsky led shortly afterward to a split in the editorial 
board of the Muzykalny Sovremennik. The more radical Igor 
Glebov and P. Suvchinsky, unable to agree with Rimsky- 
Korsakov, Y. Weisberg, and other leading lights of the maga- 
zine, resigned. 

It was, incidentally, in connection with the Scythian Suite 
that Sabaneyev disgraced himself. On December 13, 1916 the 
Moscow magazine Nevosti Sezona appeared with one of his 
customary condemnatory articles reviewing an alleged premiere 
performance in Moscow of the Scythian Suite. The article, 
which was the usual passionate tirade against Prokofiev's "bar- 
barous" music, ended with the remark that "the composer him- 
self conducted with barbaric zeal" (Novosti Sezona, No. 333^ 



December 13, 1916). A few days later the newspaper Rech 
carried a coldly formal letter from Prokofiev to the effect that 
the Scythian Suite had not been performed in Moscow at all 
and that the only copy of the score could not have been in the 
possession of any of the critics. This was fitting revenge on 
Sabaneyev for his persistent nagging of Prokofiev. 

The public controversy in the musical press regarding Pro- 
kofiev's work merely fanned public interest in the Scythian 
Suite. In the early part of the following season (October 29, 
1916) it was performed again at one of Siloti's special concerts, 
and henceforth became a popular feature on concert programs 
both in Russia and abroad. 

V. Karatygin in the Rech and Igor Glebov in Muzyka paid 
glowing tribute to the new composition. "The freshness of har- 
monic effects, originality of theme, and elemental force that 
permeate the Scythian Suite make it undoubtedly one of the 
most significant and valuable examples of Russian musical 
'modernism,' " wrote Karatygin. "Not since the death of Boro- 
din have we heard a voice singing so appealingly of the rich 
bounty of life," claimed Glebov. "Prokofiev is one of ourselves, 
a contemporary. It would be a sad mistake to relegate him to 
the unknown future, to label him with the vulgarized title of 
'futurist.' " 

Unlike the modernists, particularly Nurok and Nuvel, who 
laid emphasis on Prokofiev's experiments in harmony and mod- 
ernistic coloring, Glebov, and Karatygin as well, drew atten- 
tion to the intrinsic lyricism latent in many of his works. The 
sober strength and exalted humanity of Prokofiev's lyricism 
made themselves most strongly felt in five songs written to 
verses by Anna Akhmatova in five days during November 1916. 

On April 7, 1916 a private audition of The Gambler was ar- 
ranged at the home of Telyakovsky. Among those present were 
Siloti, Coates, and Tartakov, chief producer. In order to avoid 
unpleasantness, Coates managed things so that Glazunov, Cui, 
and other conservative-minded members of the jury were ab- 
sent. Telyakovsky did not approve of the opera, but succumbed 



to the arguments of the young conductors and signed the con- 
tract. The opera was included in the repertory for 1916-17. 
Prokofiev devoted the entire summer of 1916 to the orchestra- 
tion of The Gambler. He worked hard on the score, doing as 
much as eighteen pages a day. 

By autumn the press announced that The Gambler had 
been included in the repertory of the Maryinsky and that re- 
hearsals had begun. The leading roles were to be sung by the 
cream of the Maryinsky opera company — I. Yershov and I. 
Alchevsky (Alexei), Bosse (the General), Zbruyeva (Babu- 

The hostile press attacked Prokofiev's latest composition in 
advance. "One can merely pity the poor subscribers who will 
be forced willy-nilly to listen to a futuristic opera," bemoaned 
the critic of the Petrogradskaya Gazeta (April 15, 1916). It 
was sensationally reported that Dostoyevsky's widow had 
claimed royalties for the operatic version of The Gambler, but 
this incipient scandal was nipped in the bud. It was rumored 
likewise that the signers of the Maryinsky cast were driven to 
despair by the insuperable difficulties of this "Left" opera. This 
as a matter of fact was indeed one of the main reasons why the 
opera was taken out of the repertory immediately after the 
February Revolution, before it was ever produced on the Rus- 
sian opera stage. 

During the war Prokofiev re-entered the St. Petersburg Con- 
servatory to study the organ. This marked a revival of the clas- 
sical tendencies in him dating back to his student days in 
Tcherepnin's class. At the end of 1916 he conceived the idea 
of a symphony in the classical manner, "as Haydn might have 
written it had he lived in our day." He decided to compose for 
the first time without the piano — on the basis of the inner 
car. "The orchestral color in a piece of music like this must 
be purer." 

The themes for the new symphony were conceived "be- 
tween whiles," occasionally on his way home from the Con- 
servatory. The first was the Gavotte (the third movement of 



the symphony), later to become one of the most popular of 
Prokofiev's miniatures. Then came the material for the Allegro 
and the slow movement. The symphony was completed in the 
summer of 1917. This subtle and original stylization of the 
musical idiom and orchestration of an eighteenth-century 
symphony was called the Classical Symphony. Without resort- 
ing to the method of museum research, the composer created 
a piece of music that was delightfully fresh and clever, full of 
an exquisite charm and touched with a faint, barely percepti- 
ble irony. 

Russian local color, reminiscent of one of the themes of 
Rimsky-Korsakov's Snow Maiden, breaks through rather star- 
tlingly in the concluding A major finale, giving the effect of 
the eighteenth century seen through the prism of Russian na- 
tional melody. The Classical Symphony was dedicated to 
Boris Asafyev (Igor Glebov), with whom Prokofiev had 
formed a close friendship since the death of M. Schmithof 
and Miaskovsky's departure for the front. At this period Pro- 
kofiev toyed with the idea of writing a miniature Russian sym- 
phony in a similar vein and dedicating it to Diaghilev. But the 
idea never materialized. 

Coming after the extremes of The Gambler and the Scyth- 
ian Suite, most of the works composed in 1916-17 — the Akh- 
matova songs, the Violin Concerto, the Classical Symphony, 
the Fugitive Visions, and the sonatas for the piano — indicated 
a definite turn toward quiet lyricism and a marked "softening 
of mood." For Prokofiev this unexpected turn toward lyri- 
cism, to gentle, dreamy moods, signified the broadening of his 
artistic diapason, the maturity of his versatile talent. 

Came 1917, the historic year of the October Revolution. 
The young composer, wholly absorbed in his music, was hardly 
aware of the revolutionary storm-cloud that was gathering. 
The utter disregard for politics characteristic of the modernist 
and Conservatory circles in which he had moved all these years 
had not helped to awaken his social consciousness. His life 
flowed on as before. He continued to appear at symphony con- 

5 1 


certs and piano recitals: on November 27, 1916 he gave a re- 
cital at one of Siloti's chamber concerts; on January 14, 1917 
he played his First Concerto with the RMO symphony orches- 
tra; 8 on February 2 he gave a piano recital in Saratov, and on 
February 5 appeared at an Evening of Modern Music in Mos- 
cow (first performance of the Akhmatova songs, Op. 27) . This 
last concert was attended by Medtner and Rachmaninoff, who 
were rather unfavorably disposed toward Prokofiev's music. 
It was on this occasion that Medtner uttered the phrase that 
was immediately snatched up by the critics: "If that is music, 
then I am no musician." On February 12, 1917 Prokofiev ap- 
peared at a literary and musical evening held in Petrograd at 
an exhibition of paintings arranged by N. E. Dobychina. Be- 
sides Prokofiev, who played a number of his compositions, the 
program included readings by Maxim Gorky of excerpts from 
My Childhood, and violin selections by Jascha Heifetz (his 
last appearance before departing for America). Gorky showed 
great interest in Prokofiev. He laughed heartily over the Bas- 
soon Scherzo and listened carefully to The Ugly Duckling and 
the Sarcasms. 'Tampered art," remarked the great writer, "but 
good, very good." Prokofiev's contact with Maxim Gorky 
lasted for many years. 

The February days saw Prokofiev on the streets of Petro- 
grad watching events with an eager interest and "hiding be- 
hind house corners when the shooting became too hot." He 
welcomed the Revolution, but failed to comprehend its full 
meaning. He saw it as some grand but incomprehensible up- 
heaval, the expression of a mighty but chaotic primordial 
force. 9 For example, the February battles inspired Fugitive 

8 The program included Stravinsky's Petrouchka and Miaskovsky's Second 
Symphony. An interesting feuilleton by Alexander Amfitcatrov about this con- 
cert was published in Russkaya Volya, January 18, 1917. 

9 Tins reaction to the Revolution was typical of many other Russian artists 
and intellectuals, who sincerely strove to comprehend what was happening. 
Suffice it to recall Blok's The Twelve or Miaskovsky's Sixth Symphony. Echoes 
of these moods are to be found in Prokofiev's Cantata for the Twentieth Anni- 
versary of the October Revolution (Op. 74), where the revolutionary events 
arc likewise treated in the form of grand cosmic upheavals. 

S 2 


Vision No. 19 — presto agitatissimo — restless chaotic music 
that, according to the composer, depicts "the agitation of the 
crowd rather than the inner essence of revolution." Later, in 

TRtblb AfclTATIJSlMO £ tlcOo AccEKTUWro 


6. Fugitive Vision No. 19. 

response to the revolutionary upheavals, came the cantata 
Seven, They Are Seven after the poem by Balmont. Both these 
works afforded clear evidence of the composer's failure to 
grasp the true significance of the events. The cantata Seven, 
They Are Seven for solo tenor, chorus, and orchestra was writ- 
ten toward the end of the summer of 1917 to the text of Bal- 
mont's version of a "Chaldean invocation" engraved in cunei- 
form characters on the walls of an ancient Akkadian temple. 
"The revolutionary events that stirred Russia," Prokofiev re- 
calls, "subconsciously affected me and demanded expression. 
I did not know how to do it and hence turned to ancient 
themes that have been preserved through the ages." 

The music of the cantata to a certain extent continued the 
"barbaric" tendencies of the Scythian Suite, but with this dif- 
ference: that whereas a healthy, radiant spirit predominated 
in the suite, terrible destructive forces stormed and raged in 
the cantata, gloomy portents of fearsome cosmic upheavals 
and calamities. The weird and frightful Chaldean monsters 
that ruled the world seemed to symbolize some dread, uncon- 
querable force that had plunged mankind into the chasm of 
war and hunger: 



Charity they know not, 

Shame they have none, 

Prayers they heed not, to entreaties they are deaf. 

Earth and heaven shrink before them, 

They clamp down whole countries as behind prison gates, 

They grind nations, as nations grind grain. 

They are seven! Seven! Seven! 

But what had the composer to oppose to this diabolical 
force that held the world in thrall? Naught but savage heathen 
invocation, the witch-doctor's mumblings, the mystic male- 
diction: "Telal, telal, curse, curse, curse!" The cantata ends 
on this despairing note to the furious glissando shrieking of 
the horns and trombones, the thunder of kettle-drums and 
tom-toms. Such music could only leave the annihilating and 
morbid impression of some incredible nightmare. 10 Thus, while 
striving intuitively to give musical expression to his presenti- 
ment of the titantic social upheavals that were about to shake 
the world, the composer became entangled in the ugly web of 
symbolic mysticism. 

Nevertheless, certain of his contemporaries believed that 
Prokofiev, with his healthy, earthy art and his joyous assertion 
of life, was the musical spokesman of the revolutionary storm 
that was about to break. This was the subject of a symptomatic 
article by Igor Glebov entitled "The Path to Joy," published 
in July 1917 in the newspaper Novaya Zhizn. 11 Viewing the 
conception of Revolution as an abstract idea of universal joy 
and freedom of creative expression, Glebov found all these 
qualities in Prokofiev's music. "Joy as the consciousness of 
one's creative powers, as faith in a better future, as a true mo- 
tive force, blossomed out in Prokofiev's music in the final 
movement of his suite Ala and Lolli. . . ." In this suite, ac- 
cording to Glebov, "one feels the first intimation in Russian 

10 Seven, They Are Seven was first performed as late as May 1924 in 
Kousscvitzky's concerts in Paris. In 1933 the cantata was revised by the com- 
poser and its piano score published. 

11 No. 73, July 13 (26), 1917. According to Glebov himself, this article 
bad been ordered by Maxim Gorky and A. N. Tikhonov, who wished to publish 
a study on the subject of the Russian Revolution as reflected in music. 



music that the path to the sun has been found, the path to that 
radiant joy and unclouded happiness man experiences at the 
discovery of the limitless fund of his creative energy. . . . 
Contemporary Russian music has anticipated the coming of 
this turning-point, and of the advance that has taken place in 
the country today in the direction of the assertion of the pri- 
ority of will and the striving for free creative being." 12 

Even his antagonists — not without venom, of course — 
noted in Prokofiev's work the reflection of the new mass and 
democratic art principles. Sabaneyev had written on this sub- 
ject a few years before, accusing the composer of pandering to 
the tastes of the "uninitiated" and of indulging the "mob 
psychology" (Golos Moskvy, February 18, 1914). One bour- 
geois Eesthete took advantage of the new terminology of the 
time openly to accuse Prokofiev's music of "Bolshevik acces- 
sibility" (Novy Den, April 19, 1918, article by Kolomyitsev). 

Paradoxically enough, however, while being objectively 
bound by his art to the revolutionary changes that were taking 
place throughout Russian culture, and being regarded by some 
of his contemporaries as one of the "stormy petrels" of the 
Revolution, Prokofiev still remained inwardly almost indiffer- 
ent to it. 

He spent the summer of 1917 in the country near Petrograd, 
studying the philosophy of Kant and Schopenhauer and work- 
ing with more than his usual zeal. 13 This was an extremely 
productive year: in the spring he composed his remarkable 
Third Sonata, Op. 28, rewritten "from old folios" preserved 
from the Conservatory days (1907) . At the same time he gath- 
ered material for a violin concerto, a new pianoforte concerto, 
and a string quartet conceived on the basis of strictly diatonic 

12 "Roads to the Future," another brilliant critical analysis of Prokofiev's 
music by Glebov, was printed somewhat later in the magazine Melos for 1918. 
In this article Glebov again speaks of Prokofiev's ties with the revolutionary 
epoch: "In him alone we have the sole genuine representative of the age. one 
in whom life is perceived as creative endeavor, and creative endeavor as life." 

13 In Schopenhauer's philosophy, as Prokofiev himself tells us. it was the 
maxim of practical behavior rather than the passive and despondent elements 
that attracted his attention. 



melody ("on the white keys"). In his summer retreat the 
composer finished the orchestration of his Violin Concerto, 
completed the Classical Symphony, and sketched the outlines 
of Seven, They Are Seven. 

The Violin Concerto, Op. 19, and the Third Sonata in one 
movement were perhaps the best things written by Prokofiev 
in the period prior to his stay abroad, the "pre-foreign period," 
as it has been called. One is struck by the unity of conception, 
the swiftness of development, and the vivid feeling of the 
Third Sonata, which combines a serene and gentle lyricism 
(subordinate theme) with fiery bursts of passion. 

The broad gamut of human emotions is reflected also in the 
poetic Violin Concerto with its dreamy melodiousness, the 
wicked, satanic skepticism of the Scherzo, and the joyous em- 
bracing of nature in the finale. 

In the autumn Prokofiev went to Essentuki in the Caucasus, 
and thence to Kislovodsk, where his mother was taking the 
waters. Here he completed the Classical Symphony and Seven y 
They Are Seven. Here too the Fourth Sonata, Op. 29, com- 
pounded of old fragments written in 1908 (the Allegro and 
part of the finale, plus the wise, meditative Andante borrowed 
from the youthful E minor Symphony), came into being. 

At that time the country was in the throes of revolution; 
only faint echoes of the October events reached Kislovodsk. 
"The news was most exciting," Prokofiev recalls, "but so con- 
tradictory that it was absolutely impossible to make head or 
tail of it." Before long the North Caucasus was cut off from 
the center of the country by the Kaledin uprising on the Don. 
Prokofiev was stranded in Kislovodsk. "Well-wishers" whis- 
pered in his ear that there would not be much room for music 
in Russia now and advised him to go to America. "Immersed 
as I was in art, I did not have a clear idea of the scope and sig- 
nificance of the October Revolution and hence the idea about 
America took root in my mind." 

Not until the spring of 1918, when the Kaledin front col- 
lapsed, did Prokofiev succeed in leaving Mineralniye Vody 



armed with a pass issued him by the Kislovodsk Soviet of 
Workers' Deputies. In Moscow he got in contact with Kousse- 
vitzky's publishing house and sold them his outstanding com- 
positions of the last few years (Scythian Suite, The Buffoon, 
and The Gambler). 

In April 1918 Prokofiev became associated with a group of 
futurist poets that included Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vassili 
Kamensky, and David Burlyuk. He had already heard Maya- 
kovsky at a literary evening a year before and had been much 
impressed by his verse. A friendship founded on mutual ar- 
tistic sympathies now sprang up between Prokofiev and Maya- 
kovsky. Prokofiev played some of his pieces in the futurist 
"Poets' Cafe" in Nastasyinsky Pereulok and had long talks 
with Mayakovsky. On one such occasion the poet drew a pen- 
cil portrait of Prokofiev playing his Diabolic Suggestions, with 
the inscription: "Sergei Sergeyevich playing on the tenderest 
nerves of Vladimir Vladimirovich." 14 It was in this period that 
Mayakovsky presented Prokofiev with his poem "War and the 
Universe," with the amusing inscription: "To the World 
President for Music from the World President for Poetry. To 
Prokofiev from Mayakovsky." 

Prokofiev met Mayakovsky subsequently both in Moscow 
and abroad. Mentioning his antipathy to Stravinsky's music 
in one of his articles from abroad written in 1922, Mayakovsky 
observed: "I much prefer the Prokofiev of the pre-foreign pe- 
riod, the Prokofiev of the crude, dashing marches" (V. Maya- 
kovsky: Collected Works, Vol. VII, p. 258). This is perhaps 
the only positive allusion to music to be found in all of Maya- 
kovsky 's writings. 

Soon afterward Prokofiev returned to Petrograd after an 
absence of nine months. In April 1918 he was able to arrange 
three consecutive concerts of his own music. In two piano re- 
citals held in the hall of the Tenishev School on April 1 5 and 
April 17, the Third and Fourth Sonatas and the Fugitive Vi- 
sions were played for the first time. On April 21, the premiere 

14 See V. Kamensky's book Life with Mayakovsky (Moscow, 1940), p. 200. 



of the Classical Symphony, conducted by Prokofiev himself, 
was given by the former court orchestra. 

The concerts of this "Prokofiev Week/' as the press called 
it, were a huge success. That held in the Tenishev School was 
attended by numerous scientists, artists, and writers, who were 
most enthusiastic (Noviye Vedomosti, April 16, 1918; re- 
viewer A. Koptyayev) . The tranquillity and clarity of the new 
compositions, particularly the Classical Symphony, reconciled 
Prokofiev with his bitterest opponents. "No more grimacing, 
no more outrageous discords," the Vecherneye Slovo com- 
mented with satisfaction. "The whole music is chaste and 
pure, clear, simple, and reminiscent of the youthful inspiration 
of Haydn and Mozart" (Dzbanovsky on the Classical Sym- 
phony in the Vecherneye Slovo, April 22, 1918). 

The premiere of the Classical Symphony was attended by 
A. V. Lunacharsky, People's Commisar of Education, who was 
much impressed by Prokofiev's talent. When, a few days later, 
Gorky and Benois introduced Prokofiev to Lunacharsky, Pro- 
kofiev mentioned his desire to go to America. "You are a revo- 
lutionary in music," replied the People's Commissar, "we are 
revolutionaries in life. We ought to work together. But if you 
wish to go I shall place no obstacles in your way." 

Prokofiev was sent to the United States on a trip on which 
he was to combine "matters pertaining to art" with care of his 
personal health. He left Petrograd on May 7, 1918, bound for 
Vladivostok. His baggage consisted mainly of sheafs of music, 
including the scores of the Scythian Suite, the First Concerto, 
the Classical Symphony, and several piano pieces. Moreover, 
he took with him a number of ideas for a new piano concerto 
and the scenario of his future opera The Love for Three 
Oranges, the name given to a magazine published during the 
war by a group of theatrical modernists who upheld the con- 
ventionalized parody theater of Carlo Gozzi. A scenario based 
on The Love for Three Oranges by Gozzi, published in one 
of the issues of this magazine, had been recommended to Pro- 
kofiev as a subject for an opera. 



5 : Style 1 


AHE SPRING of 1918, as we have seen, marked the di- 
viding line between the early period in Prokofiev's career and 
the subsequent period of his travels abroad. The early period, 
represented by thirty opera for the piano, symphony orchestra, 
and theater, constitutes a truly classic period, one of the last 
brilliant pages of the Russian pre-Revolutionary musical clas- 
sics. It was in these years (1908-18) that the musical style of 
the composer became clearly defined. The musical interests 
of the young Prokofiev were focused on two main spheres. 

The first was the theater, the art of concrete images and 
situations, the striving to reproduce in theatrical forms ob- 
jects and phenomena taken either from life or from books. 
To this category belong the early operatic experiments and the 
subsequent work on ballets and operas, as well as the largest 
and best part of his symphonic music — likewise generated to 
a lesser or greater degree by the theater — and even many of 
his piano compositions, which constituted something in the 
nature of sketches for future theatrical scenes (the numerous 
marches, gavottes, and scherzos, or, on the other hand, Phan- 
tom, Despair, and Diabolic Suggestions). 

Secondly, the piano, which from Prokofiev's childhood had 
been his favorite medium. The piano, treated not on the inti- 
mate, contemplative "drawing-room" plane (the pianoforte 
style of the impressionists and Scriabin had always been alien 
to Prokofiev), but as a means of delivering thunderous ora- 

1 In this chapter I have endeavored to outline my observations of the musi- 
cal style of the young Prokofiev. However, since even in these years the com- 
poser's style was quite mature, the evaluation given here applies to a consid- 
erable extent also to the outstanding compositions of his subsequent period, 
particularly of the last few years. From this standpoint I have touched upon 
some works of the more recent period in the present chapter. 



tions from the concert platform, for holding mass "concert 
meetings" as it were. 

The peculiar stylistic features that make it possible to recog- 
nize Prokofiev's music from the first few bars, just as we recog- 
nize the music of Liszt, Grieg, Borodin, or Scriabin, asserted 
themselves at an early date. "The combination of the simple 
and the intricate, the complexity of the whole with the schema- 
tization and simplification of the particular," such is the gen- 
eral definition of Prokofiev's style given by V. Karatygin. 2 

The simplest and most classical features in Prokofiev's music 
are its forms, rhythm, and pianoforte texture. The complex 
and unusual are to be found in the harmonic idiom, the poly- 
phonic methods, and sometimes the melody. Deliberately 
simplifying the piece, stripping it down to the bare, clear-cut 
rhythmic framework, Prokofiev combines this with an unusual 
vividness of harmony and melody. At times his music is almost 
schematic in form, but it is invariably enlivened with fresh 
and original modulation. 

Perhaps the most powerful of the expressive media of the 
young musician are his peculiar rhythms. He turns from the 
delicate ultra-refined, wavy rhythms of Debussy and Scriabin 
to clear and concrete outlines. His predilection for common 
time (marches and gavottes) , 6/8 time, 3 and the basic rhythms 
is common knowledge. Prokofiev's gravitation toward old and 
established chiseled dance patterns or the ceaseless tattoo of 
perpetuum mobile is clearly a return to the stable canons of 
seventeenth- and eighteenth-century classical music. But his 
rhythms as well as other elements of his style are at times a 

2 Article entitled "Prokofiev's Music," published in No. 1 of Iskusstvo 
(1917). Other valuable observations pertaining to the musical style of Proko- 
fiev are to be found in a number of reviews by Karatygin (sec his Collected 
Works, pp. 194-204), in the works of Igor Glcbov (Melos, No. 2, 1918, and 
Russkaya Muzyka), in the article by Y. Ekgcl (Russkiye Vedomosti, February 
10, 1917), and, more lately, in the writings of V. Zuckermann (article on the 
Soviet opera in Sovietskaya Muzyka, No. 12, 1940) and in the lectures deliv- 
ered by B. L. Yavorsky. 

3 Wc find triplets in the First, Second, and Third Sonatas, in the First and 
Second Concertos, in the Violin Concerto and many pianoforte pieces. 



combination of the most far-fetched extremes: over-simplified 
designs of crude and archaic form (Ala and Lolli), childish 
primitive playfulness (The Buffoon), and sharply accentu- 
ated, tense rhythmic effects abounding in convulsive, spas- 
modic tirades and sudden bursts of movement (see Sarcasms 
Nos. 1 and 5, or the subordinate theme of the First Piano 

Prokofiev's harmonic idiom is characterized by a simple 
clarity in his basic chords combined with extreme daring in 
his use of incidental and transition chords. As a matter of fact, 
he rarely emerges from the realistic sphere of the stable major- 
minor harmonic relationships. On the contrary, after the 
modal extravaganza of impressionism, he demonstratively 
brings his hearers back to the more earthy and "plebeian" to- 
nalities, to the accustomed C major (one of the keys that oc- 
cur most frequently in Prokofiev's music), 4 to G major, D 
major, and the commonest minor keys (A minor, D minor, 
and G minor); yet with Prokofiev the familiar C major is apt 
to perform jsuch unexpected tricks, such sudden transitions 
to distant tonalities, such fresh chord combinations, as to 
make it appear an entirely new key with unsuspected possibili- 
ties (see, for example, the main theme of Zdravitsa). The 
composer is very fond of stringing together long chains of 
parallel or diverging chords, each of which is more or less or- 
dinary and common, but which are combined in such a way 
as to produce sound effects that are both new and original (for 
example, the finale of the March from the Three Oranges) . 

All these deliberate dissonances, including the weird effects 
produced by chance combinations of non-harmonic sounds, 
are employed by Prokofiev chiefly for descriptive purposes. He 
is not afraid of unusual chord combinations, however poly- 
tonal the effect may sometimes be, for these are merely inci- 
dental features of polytonality and are nearly always compen- 

4 The Third Concerto, the Fifth and Eighth Sonatas, the finale of the 
Fourth, the Prelude, Op. 12, The Ugly Duckling, much of The Buffoon, and, 
most recently, the Russian Overture, Zdravitsa, Peter and the Wolf, and a 
great deal of Semyon Kotko are written in C major. 



sated for by a clear and sober tonal conclusion. 5 Sustained 
ostinato figures, which lend themselves to the most pungent 
combinations of developing melody with a constantly repeated 
bass, are a favorite method of the composer. An important ele- 
ment in Prokofiev's harmonic style is the linear principle: many 
angular chords emerge as a result of the crossing of two or 
more horizontal lines, and sometimes even of two different 
chord progressions. This trick of superimposing parallel and 
apparently independent melodic figures is most strikingly rep- 
resented in the Scythian Suite; Karatygin has compared this 
method with Greek heterophony. 6 And side by side with 
crudely decorative, blatant harmonic blotches like the favorite 
C— F-sharp chord or the simultaneous combination of the D- 
major and A-major triads at the opening of the gambling scene 
in The Gambler, we find pure diatonic melody and harmony, 
alternating modes emanating from the Russian folk-song and 
used with amazing flexibility — the clear unblemished world 
of white keys, almost totally devoid of chromatic effects, that 
is so typical of Prokofiev. 

Prokofiev's music is famous for its rich abundance of mel- 
ody. And here, too, the composer strives primarily to bring 
musical style back to the clear-cut melody of the classics, a 
reaction from the pernicious "absorption of melody by har- 
mony" of which the impressionists and Scriabin in the latter 
period were guilty. In the foreground of most of Prokofiev's 
longer instrumental works we find clearly defined, lapidary 
melodic lines, built up, like the classics, on the essential major 
or minor triads (the principal themes of the Second, Third, 

5 Characteristic in this concction is the bi-tonal Sarcasm No. 3; ostensibly 
written in a simultaneous combination of B-flat minor (bass) with F-sharp 
minor (melody), it is actually a complicated B-flat minor. 

8 It would be most illuminating to compare some of the harmonic and 
orchestral methods of the young Prokofiev with the emphatically earthy, con- 
structivist methods of the Russian painters, the followers of Cezanne and 
Matisse, the "Jack of Diamonds" group. V. G. Karatvgin cleverly pointed to 
this analogy in his reviews. Prokofiev himself tells us that as early as 1913 he 
took an interest in the paintings of P. Konchalovsky, attracted to them by the 
deliberately lapidary quality of their line and color. 



and Sixth Sonatas, the First and Second Concertos, the First 
and Second Violin Concertos, the String Quartet, and Peter 
and the Wolf), or else on the simplest scale movement. A 
characteristic example of the diatonic movement is the theme 
of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet and of the chromatic move- 
ment of the Scherzo of the First Violin Concerto. 

It is true that, while outwardly classical in form, these 
themes almost invariably tend to sprout the startling, unex- 
pected effects that are so unmistakably Prokofiev. In melody — 
in rhythm and harmonic idiom, for that matter — the com- 
poser frequently indulges in curious juxtapositions of the sim- 
plest and most firmly established classical effects with the 
most unusual and startling angularities. Who does not know 
those deliberately broken themes with the incrediblv wide 
skips in melody? Distortion and shifting of melodic lines are 
used for ridicule, for caricature, or for powerful emotional em- 
phasis. The particularly uncanny, jarring interval of the ninth, 
for example, is employed in many themes associated with grief 
and despair (death theme in Romeo and Juliet, funeral theme 
in Semyon Kotko, subordinate theme in the First Concerto, 

At times this fantastic distortion of chromatic melodic de- 
sign seems artificial, and in such cases the striving for origi- 
nality clearly takes the upper hand over the natural and logical. 
It is symptomatic that while such melodies were relatively rare 
in the Prokofiev of the period prior to his foreign tour (the 
theme of Sarcasm No. 4, and here and there in The Gambler) , 
they occur much more frequently between opera 40 and 60. 
A true master of long instrumental melodies of the vocal type 
(first movement of the Violin Concerto, Andante of the 
Fourth Sonata, introduction to the first movement and the 
theme for the variations in the Third Concerto ) , he neverthe- 
less frequently cultivates pettv melodic nuclei, leitmotiv melo- 
dies, the embryos of thematic development; his rejection of 
broad and sweeping melodic forms is particularly irritating in 
his opera music, where keen and pointed declamatory detail 



nearly always predominates over the vocal cantilena. It is grati- 
fying, however, to observe that in recent years Prokofiev has 
been showing marked tendencies toward clarity and melodi- 
ousness employing unmistakable cantilena forms in choral and 
solo singing. 

The classical quality of Prokofiev's music is perhaps most 
strongly felt in his choice of form: the most universal classical 
forms — the sonata, the one-movement symphonic poem in 
the Liszt manner, rondo, variations, three-part forms, etc. — 
are to be found in his instrumental music. Preserving the basic 
attributes of classical forms, he frequently violates one or an- 
other essential element. Such, for example, are the methods 
almost invariably employed by Prokofiev for modifying the re- 
capitulation. The latter may be conceived as a continuation of 
the development (Third Sonata) or the themes may be com- 
bined in contrapuntal manner (Andante of the Fourth So- 
nata, finale of the Violin Concerto); in other cases the re- 
capitulation is entirely deprived of a subordinate theme, or is 
reduced to the minimum, taking the form of a sort of repeat 
and coda rolled in one. With Prokofiev some violation of the 
principles of the sonata form is almost invariably the rule. 

Sometimes he follows the example of the romanticists, now 
narrowing down the classical sonata to a one-movement form 
(First Concerto), now employing the leitmotiv development 
of theme (echoes of themes from the first movement in the 
finales of the Second and Sixth Sonatas). When, however, the 
sonata form is consistently preserved, he uses unusual tonal 
relationships to offset the classical form: instead of the gener- 
ally accepted tonic and dominant keys, Prokofiev prefers an 
augmented fourth or second up or down the scale. Novelty of 
form in Prokofiev's music is frequently determined by new 
and original treatment of some part of the form from the stand- 
point of expression and ideas; for example, the development 
of his sonatas and concertos sometimes gives rise to a curious 
distortion, a shifting of image cither toward the grotesque or 
toward an exaggerated condensation of expression, instead of 



the customary dramatization of the main images or their re- 
production in a new color. The range of emotions revealed in 
the diverse parts of the variations (the second movement of 
the Third Concerto) becomes extremely broad. 

Except in instrumental concertos and sonatas, Prokofiev 
rarely uses the grand sonata or symphonic forms. The sphere 
of purely philosophical symphonic music has but little attrac- 
tion for him. 7 In the sphere of orchestral music, the program 
suite, which has concrete theatrical associations, is his pre- 
dominating form. There are great freedom and absence of 
constraint in his large vocal forms; here the text is the princi- 
pal factor, with rare attempts to impart a formal polish by 
means of instrumental refrains (The Wizard and The Ugly 
Duckling) . 

Characteristically, it is in the earliest of Prokofiev's instru- 
mental compositions (First, Third, and Fourth Sonatas) that 
unity and completeness of thematic development are most 
strongly defined. Even in such pieces as the First Concerto and 
the Second Sonata, however, one can discern a tendency to 
string together separate small contrasting episodes — sound 
pictures. This cinematographic development makes itself most 
strongly felt in the instrumental works having theatrical asso- 
ciations (for example, the suite from The Buffoon or the 
"Battle on the Ice" from Alexander Nevsky) . The regrettable 
mosaic quality of the form in works of this kind, its excessive 
dependence upon the program, are in some measure compen- 
sated for by the brilliance of the musical description and the 
dynamic cascade of sounds. The integrity and symphonic 
breadth of form perceived as a developing entity and not as a 
mechanical juxtaposition of contrasting fragments appear 
again in some of the later compositions (Second Violin Con- 
certo, Sixth Sonata ) . 

7 Two of his five symphonic compositions (the four symphonies and one 
Sinfonietta) are stylized (the Classical Symphony and to a lesser degree the 
Sinfonietta) , while two others are associated in some way with theatrical images 
(Third and Fourth Symphonies). 

6 5 


A few words should be said about the technical methods of 
Prokofiev's music, about the principal features of his orches- 
tral and piano style. 

The most daring and original of Prokofiev's early scores are 
the Scythian Suite and The Buffoon. In them he most ve- 
hemently rejects the academic manner of the composers of the 
St. Petersburg school, with its accurately poised orchestral 
groups and smooth voice-leading. Prokofiev's music, on the 
contrary, is distinguished by its unusual hypertrophy of or- 
chestral tone color — strident, crudely material, and almost 
invariably subordinated to some descriptive purpose. The rich 
intricacies of these scores, their innumerable pedal effects, the 
abundant use of sostenuto, insistently recurring phrases, and 
all manner of sound effects lend them a similarity to some of 
the orchestral traditions of Wagner and particularly of Strauss. 
Prokofiev's scores are as colorful as his harmonic texture. His 
orchestration abounds in harsh daubs of tone color, unex- 
pected, pungent combinations of instruments to bring out 
some bizarre dramatic effect. "What difference does it make 
how the composer produces the effect of horror, whether by 
two beats of the drum and three notes on the clarinet or by a 
prolonged melody on the violins? If the result is horror, then 
he has achieved his purpose," one American critic wrote about 
Prokofiev's orchestration. 

In contrast to the ethereal water-color imagery of the im- 
pressionist orchestra, Prokofiev often deliberately resorts to 
the use of crude, earthy orchestration. The sharp timbres of 
the brasses (the unforgettable high pitch of the brasses in the 
finale of the Scythian Suite), the complex system of the 
percussion instruments, the dry, brittle sting of the piano, pe- 
culiarly descriptive uses of the strings (con legno, sul ponti- 
cello, pizzicato) —these are some of the effects most com- 
monly employed in his orchestra. 

Sharp contrasts are as inherent in Prokofiev's orchestration 
as in the other elements of his musical style. Side by side with 
the vertiginous complexities of Ala and Lolli we have the trans- 



lucent score of the Classical Symphony, built almost exclu- 
sively on pure solo timbres. Prokofiev's tendency toward pure 
timbres and greater economy of orchestral coloring has be- 
come more marked in his latest works, Alexander Nevsky, with 
its amazing wealth and abundance of tone color, being an ex- 

While on the subject of Prokofiev's orchestral style, I might 
mention one curious trait of the composer's personality: his 
persistent striving for rationalization and efficiency in the prac- 
tical technique of music-writing. While still in the Conserva- 
tory (1914), he revised the generally accepted system of 
score-writing by discarding the complicated practice of transpo- 
sition, and by writing all the instruments in his scores in the 
tonic key — that is, just as they sound on the piano. The work 
of transposing the corresponding parts (French horn, clarinet, 
English horn, etc.) is left to the copyist. The only clef remain- 
ing apart from the treble and bass is the alto (for viola, trom- 
bone, and English horn); the tenor clef is dispensed with alto- 
gether (the treble and bass clefs serving for the bassoons and 
cellos as well). All of Prokofiev's scores are written according 
to this simplified system. They are extremely easy to read, and 
it is to be regretted that other composers, from a reluctance 
either to violate traditions or to trust the transposition to the 
copyist, have failed to follow his example. 

Another interesting labor-saving device introduced by Pro- 
kofiev in the sphere of orchestration dates from the period of 
his foreign tour. Commencing with he Pas d'acier (1925), he 
began to outline the whole plan of each future work, down to 
the minutest details, in the piano score. Having allocated all 
the sounds to the various instruments, marked all the details, 
and written on a separate staff all the additional voices or com- 
plex divisi, he considers the orchestration complete. All that 
remains is to transfer all the orchestral voices marked in pencil 
on the piano score, a purely technical job that can be entrusted 
to any intelligent assistant. In this way the composer saves a 
tremendous amount of time and labor. Most of his scores writ- 



ten in the course of the past fifteen years, with the exception of 
Alexander Nevsky, were done by this method. 

In the sphere of the piano as well, Prokofiev's early work 
marked a violent reaction from the ultra-refinement of impres- 
sionism. From the cloying sweetness and spirituality of Scria- 
bin and Debussy he returned demonstratively to the piano of 
the classical epoch, strongly accentuating its hammer-like 
quality. Prokofiev's construction — two voices or three voices, 
with a parallel movement in octaves — is pre-eminently simple 
and unadorned. The technique of skips and hand-crossings in 
his pieces is strongly reminiscent of Domenico Scarlatti; the 
technique of scale runs springs from the piano style of Haydn 
and the early works of Beethoven. Common features of Proko- 
fiev's piano works are the toccata effects consisting of alter- 
nating chords in the right and left hands (a method used by 
Liszt and Balakirev), of emphasized non legato, and so on. 
Offsetting these dominant features we find a few echoes of 
impressionistic style in blurred, mellow passages and vibrant 
chords of rich sonority, and at times — especially in the slow 
movements of his sonatas and concertos — a striving toward 
complexity of structure and complex polyphonic development 
(the central episode of the First Concerto, the third move- 
ment of the Second Sonata, much of the Second Concerto). 

The declamatory style peculiar to Prokofiev's vocal music 
as well as his musical dramaturgy are likewise of considerable 
interest. The student of Prokofiev's style might be recom- 
mended to trace the continuation and development of some 
of his trends in Soviet music, especially in the music of Dmitri 
Shostakovich. But this is a subject for special research. 

The scope of the living phenomena reproduced by Prokofiev 
— as clearly defined as they are multiform — reveals several 
distinct parallel trends in his musical style. 

For example, there is Prokofiev the classic, the Prokofiev of 
imposing sonatas, who knows the secret of impeccable form, 



who is capable of developing his theme in the grand classical 
manner with the convincing power of a Beethoven. This is the 
Prokofiev of the first piano concertos, of the Violin Concerto, 
the Third and Fourth Sonatas. At times his neo-classicism ac- 
quires the character of subtle stylization, a deliberate revival of 
the old through the medium of the new (the Classical Sym- 
phony, partly the Sinfonietta, Op. 5, much in Op. 12, later in 
the music of Lieutenant Kije and Romeo and Juliet) . With his 
tongue in his cheek, the composer revives the dance patterns 
of the eighteenth century — gavotte, rigaudon, and minuet — 
the graceful, courteous world of absurd ceremonies and con- 
ventions. In this predilection for the forms of the old, pre- 
romantic music his work bears a certain affinity (while at the 
same time retaining its essential difference) to the neo-classi- 
cism of Reger, Brahms, and Taneyev. 8 

To this same "classical line" belong the toccata effects, the 
impelling dynamic runs that are to be found chiefly in his 
music for the piano; for example, the deliberately simplified 
passages in the form of five-finger exercises (First and Third 
Piano Concertos), patterns of mechanical motion, perpetuum 
mobile (Scherzo of the Second Concerto, Scherzo in A minor, 
Op. 12, Toccata, Op. 11). Incidentally, these violently dy- 
namic, high-pressure figures not only bring us back to classical 
piano technique, but at times acquire a modern and somewhat 
machine-like form. Thus, the line runs from the rigid, loco- 
motive rhythms of the Toccata, Op. 11, to the harsh images 
expressive of modern city life in Le Pas d'acier and the Toccata 
of the Fifth Concerto. "This line," the composer himself has 
observed, "is perhaps the least significant." 

Secondly, an important role in the work of Prokofiev is 
played by the expressionist guignol — theatrically tragic bat- 

8 In this respect he has undoubtedly anticipated many of the neo-classical 
tendencies of Shostakovich, particularly his scherzo and minuet images (scher- 
zos of the Fifth Symphony and the Piano Quintet, finale of the Sixth Sym- 



ages of horrific fantasy or nervous, spasmodic emotions. 
These images are almost invariably associated with the quest 
for new harmonies, new timbre and polyphonic media. Some- 
times the new harmonic devices engendered by the compos- 
er's rich imagination, the fantastic, brittle melodic effects, the 
bizarre and barbaric harmonies, sought an outlet in blood- 
curdling or primitive, archaic subjects. And while in some 
cases these guignol forms remained within the sphere of in- 
strumental music (Phantom, Despair, Diabolic Suggestions, 
the subordinate theme of the First Concerto, the cadenza in 
the first movement and the Intermezzo of the Second Con- 
certo, the development of the Third Sonata, and much of the 
Sarcasms), in other cases they were embodied in the descrip- 
tive sphere of the theater or in sound pictures: in the cruel 
visions of Magdalene and The Flaming Angel, in the symboli- 
cally decorative satanism of The Love for Three Oranges, in 
the savage atavistic archaicism of the Scythian Suite and Seven, 
They are Seven. 

To this same line belong the most mocking of Prokofiev's 
grotesques, in which laughter becomes malicious and diaboli- 
cal (Sarcasms, The Wizard, the Scherzo from the First Violin 
Concerto, and much of The Gambler). 

The third significant line in Prokofiev's music is that of pure 
lyricism, now pensive (as in Reminiscence, the unpublished 
miniature Reproach, the subordinate theme in the Third So- 
nata, Fugitive Visions Nos. 1, 7, 16, 20, the slow movement of 
the First Concerto and the Second and Fourth Sonatas, songs, 
Op. 9, Dreams, main theme of the First Violin Concerto), 
now associated with the patriarchal world of old fireside leg- 
ends, "grandmothers' tales" (Story, Op. 3, Legend, Op. 12, 
subordinate themes in the first movements of the Violin Con- 
certo and the Third Concerto, in the finale of the Second Con- 
certo, Tales of the Old Grandmother, chief refrain of The 
Buffoon). The composer's lyricism is most originally blended 
with the influences of Western romantic art (Schumann) and 
with the Russian traditions emanating primarily from Mus- 



sorgsky (slow passages of the Pictures at an Exposition, songs 
of the type of Sunless, etc.), or directly from the Russian folk- 

There are lyrical pages in almost all of the larger composi- 
tions of the young Prokofiev, even in the most daring and bar- 
baric (for example, the beginning of the third movement in 
the Scythian Suite, the central part of the first and third Sar- 
casms, or the lyrical passages from The Gambler) . This lyri- 
cism is nearly always expressed by the typically Prokofiev dia- 
tonic line— "the white keys" (the most typical examples are 
the introduction to the Third Concerto, the Akhmatova songs, 
the subordinate theme in the Third Sonata ) . It is rather sur- 
prising that the majority of his early contemporaries failed to 
give the young Prokofiev any credit for lyrical talent, perceiv- 
ing merely the crude impulses and cruel mockery in his music. 
"Tender lyricism is foreign to Prokofiev's nature," wrote A. 
Koptyayev, "and when he attempts any allusion to it I discern 
the hideous grin of malice" (Birzheviye Vedomosti, July 23, 

And, finally, the fourth of the basic lines that run through 
the work of Sergei Prokofiev is humor, humor in all its grada- 
tions, from the good-natured smile to withering mockery. 
Prokofiev's humor is part of a long tradition that began with 
the experiments of Dargomizhsky and Mussorgsky and was 
later so brilliantly developed in his own works and those of 
Shostakovich. This tradition is one of the most characteristic 
features of Russian music. It is a clear sign of a striving to 
broaden the sphere of musical expression to the utmost, to 
embrace the whole gamut of human emotions and feelings. 
Prokofiev's humor is expressed diversely, now in the form of 
boisterous and gay whimsies (the Badinage, Op. 3, Scherzo 
for four bassoons, Scherzo from the Second Sonata, much from 
The Buffoon, and The hove for Three Oranges), now coming 
as a result of ridicule or caricature, or as a negation of some 
lyrical theme (development of the First Violin Concerto, 
much in the Second Sonata and the First Piano Concerto). 

7 1 


There is also a faint touch of mockery in the neo-classical pages 
of Prokofiev's music (the Classical Symphony); and there are 
bitterly ironic notes even in his love lyrics (the Akhmatova 
songs. Gray Dress, etc. ) . 

In the best instrumental compositions of the young Proko- 
fiev — the Second Piano Concerto, the Third and Fourth So- 
natas, and the First Violin Concerto — the composer resorts 
to dramatic contrasts, making radiant dreams and romantic 
impulses clash with brutal fury or with waggish buffoonery. 
Adopting a method once used by the romanticists, the com- 
poser often lampoons, distorts, and derides his own lyrical 
ideals. In such cases the lyricism is either eliminated suddenly 
or effaced by a wicked grimace, an amusing impish movement 
(the first part of the Second Sonata, the First Piano Concerto) , 
or is distorted in the course of the development (Violin Con- 
certo) or variations (Third Concerto). In a number of works 
written toward the end of this period (Sarcasms, The Gam- 
bler, The Buffoon, The Wizard) it is the horrific, the malevo- 
lently caricatured reflection of reality that predominates. In 
these works the composer laughs bitterly at the ugliness and 
loathsomeness of existence. In this self-flagellation, this tend- 
ency to scoff at one's own emotions or at external phenomena, 
one can discern the skepticism of the young artist who has 
little faith in the purity and sincerity of human ideals. 

At the same time, however, a wholesome perception of na- 
ture and faith in the triumph of human energy have taken the 
upper hand over skepticism and sarcasm in many bright pages 
of Prokofiev's music. This is apparent in the First Piano Con- 
certo, in the Classical Symphony, in the finales of the Scythian 
Suite, the First Violin Concerto, and the Fourth Sonata, and 
later in his magnificent Third Piano Concerto. 

In his striving to mock at all that was smooth and pretty in 
the old art, in his extensive use of deliberate prosaisms (rigid 
rhythms and stark, trenchant emotionalism), in his restless 
dissatisfaction and lack of faith in accepted ideals, the young 
Prokofiev bore a marked resemblance to the young Mayakov- 

7 2 


sky. But the difference between the two was that, while Maya- 
kovsky succeeded in finding the path to real truth, to the as- 
sertion of positive ideals, subsequently turning from sneering 
skepticism and desperate explosions of feeling to conscious 
service in the cause of the Socialist Revolution, Prokofiev, in 
his gropings toward truth, was to a considerable extent bound 
by his stagnant, non-political musical environment, as well as 
by certain influences emanating from the modernist and Dia- 
ghilev circles. 

The temptations of the Diaghilev-modernist trend, with its 
cult of form and brilliant inventiveness, its total indifference 
to man, and its repudiation of the idea in art — this was the 
force that diverted the young Prokofiev from the true path of 
his artistic development. 

While Prokofiev himself 9 from his early years intuitively 
strove for an art that would carry on the traditions of the ro- 
manticists and the Russian school (Schumann, Grieg, and 
Mussorgsky) toward an art founded on a profound love for 
man and nature, on keen observation of human speech, into- 
nation, and gesture, the Diaghilev trend, on the other hand, 
impelled him in a different direction, toward the poetization 
of Scythian, atavistic savagery, to the cult of rollicking buf- 
foonery, stylization, and witty decorative invention, away from 
the lofty purpose of art and serious positive ideals. 10 

The sphere of his own humanistic tendencies and the sphere 
of the modernist influences were by no means mechanically 
divided in Prokofiev's music. In his instrumental works or his 
operas, which were the fruit of his own artistic quests, one 
finds elements of mechanical, constructivist, cold and rational 
art, limiting the vibrant human qualities in his music. Such, 

9 In his own artistic experiments he was always supported by the best and 
most discerning of the critics — Miaskovsky, Karatygin, and Igor Glebov. The 
latter two frequently drew attention to the lyrical aspect of his talent. 

10 We recall again Prokofiev's differences of opinion with Diaghilev and 
Stravinsky on the question of the development of opera. Advancing the modern- 
ist ballet, a semi-acrobatic performance, as a substitute for opera, they rejected 
opera in principle as much too realistic and democratic a genre. 



for example, is the mechanical and exaggerated caricature of 
many scenes in The Gambler. 

And on the other hand in the Diaghilev type of composi- 
tions, written to order, the warm pulse of life made itself felt 
time and again, side by side with the cult of the inanimate, 
the amusing quirk, or original decoration. Such, for instance, 
is the lyricism and humor of The Buffoon, The Love for Three 
Oranges; the perception of the elemental force of nature, the 
titanic energy of the sun in the Scythian Suite; the vivid and 
original refraction of Russian folk-melody in The Buffoon. 

The search for the human and realistic elements in the art 
of the young Prokofiev is closely interwoven with healthy and, 
at first, intuitive manifestations of the Russian national style. 
The lyricism of the Third Sonata and the Third Concerto, the 
patriarchal lullaby forms in the finale of the Second Concerto, 
the profoundly national portrait of Babulenka in The Gam- 
bler, and, finally, The Buffoon and much of the Fugitive Vi- 
sions and Tales of the Old Grandmother reveal a strong leaven 
of the national in the artist, his unusual feeling for the melody 
and harmony of the Russian song. How typical of Russian 
folk-music, for example, is Prokofiev's favorite harmonic 
idiom, with its clear, translucent, diatonic harmony and its 
characteristic vacillations between the major and minor! 

It was precisely these humanistic tendencies in Prokofiev's 
music, least of all discerned by his contemporaries, that dis- 
tinguished his music from the openly bourgeois trends of 
Diaghilev and Stravinsky and brought him finally onto the 
path of Soviet art. What was it, then, that predominated in 
his music of the pre-foreign period — the concentration of ec- 
centric and decorative music, the world of mechanical dolls, 
the fantastic creatures of his imagination, or the poetry of the 
human soul, the art of living emotions and exalted social 

It is obvious that, had this second tendency, which clearly 
existed in the best of Prokofiev's compositions, been predomi- 
nant, had it been fully comprehended by him as a principle, 



had the sarcasm and force of negation been offset by strong 
positive ideals, he would inevitably have been one of the first 
to join the camp of the artists of the Revolution. But unfor- 
tunately this did not happen. The foreign period cut him off 
from his Soviet homeland for almost fifteen years. 


Book II 

Years of Wandering 

6 : Inertia of the Past 

"Whither, madmen?" 

"To search for the three oranges."' 

"But they are in Creonta's castle!" 

"I do not fear Creonta." 

Gozzi: The Love for Three Oranges 


HE THIRST for new keen impressions, the desire to 
breathe "the fresh, invigorating air of seas and oceans," a per- 
sistent and confident striving for world renown prompted 
Prokofiev to launch upon the risky adventure of going abroad. 
These motives must indeed have amounted to an obsession r 
for to have left seething, revolutionary Petrograd and set off 
on a voyage round the world, across a country in the throes of 
social upheaval and civil war was a hazardous proposition. 

The journey from Petrograd to Vladivostok took eighteen 
days, for the Trans-Siberian line was jammed with Czecho- 
slovakian troop trains. Fighting had flared up between Red 
Guard detachments and Ataman Semyonov's bands. Proko- 
fiev's train was the last to get through before the Czechoslo- 
vakian front was formed. "It was only in retrospect that I 
appreciated the dangers to which I had been exposed," re- 
called Prokofiev. 



On June 1 he was in Japan, where he stayed for two months. 
As luck would have it, he arrived in Japan shortly after the 
publication of a book on modern European music by M. Ota- 
guro, one of the chapters of which was devoted to Prokofiev. 1 
The Japanese were much interested in the young Russian 
musician and arranged three recitals of his works, two in 
Tokyo's Imperial Theater and one in Yokohama. Many Tokyo 
newspapers reviewed the concerts. In Tokyo the bulk of the 
audience was Japanese, in Yokohama European. 

Early in August Prokofiev left Yokohama bound for New 
York via Honolulu and San Francisco. His long trip through 
Siberia, across the Pacific Ocean and the entire American 
continent, his acquaintance with new, exotic countries, and 
his contacts with new people did not interfere with his work. 
In the course of his four months' travels he composed the 
themes for the White Quartet, conceived in Russia, and 
worked on the plan for the opera The Love for Three Oranges. 

Arriving in New York in September, he discovered that the 
conquest of America of which he had dreamed would not be 
so easy as he had expected. American concert audiences at that 
time did not manifest much interest in musical novelties. 
What new music was accepted had to bear the stamp of Euro- 
pean approval. Penniless and friendless, Prokofiev found him- 
self up against the American music-business machine. 

His first piano recital, held in New York on November 20, 
1918, was fairly successful, however, and evoked a host of arti- 
cles under glaring headlines. Savage, furious, new, weird, and 
Russian were some of the adjectives used by the reviewer in 
Musical America. "A piano titan," "His fingers are made of 
steel," "Russian chaos in music," "Godless Russia," "Bolshe- 
vism in art," "ultra-modern," "a carnival of cacophony," com- 
mented the American reviewers, taking advantage of the strong 
public interest in revolutionary Russia. 

1 The data for this chapter have in part been borrowed by the author from 
Montagu-Nathan's comprehensive article which appeared in the London Musi- 
cal Times in October 1916 (the first monographic work on Prokofiev). 



Both reviewers and newspaper reporters gave detailed de- 
scriptions of his appearance ("the blond Slavic rather than 
the Turco-Slavic type") , spoke of his virile rendition, his primi- 
tive forcefulness "a la Jack London," and his fantastic imagi- 
nation "akin to Edgar Allan Poe's." Most of the critics did not 
take the trouble to make any serious detailed analysis of his 
style. One found influences of Chopin, Wagner, and Bee- 
thoven in Prokofiev's music, others maintained that "Proko- 
fiev originates from Scriabin," another dubbed him "Men- 
delssohn played on the wrong notes." 

"Take one Schonberg, two Ornsteins, add a little Satie, mix 
all these with Medtner, put in a drop of Schumann, add some 
Scriabin and Stravinsky, and the result will be something like 
Prokofiev," wrote the reviewer in Musical America (November 
30, 1918). One prominent critic said that the finale of the 
Second Sonata "reminds one of a herd of mammoths charging 
across an Asiatic plateau . . . when the dinosaur's daughter 
graduated from the Conservatory of that epoch her repertory 
must have included Prokofiev." His music was regarded as 
something extremely savage and exotically Asiatic. 

The first piano recital, in Aeolian Hall, barely covered ex- 
penses. But Prokofiev had attracted public attention. One firm 
invited him to record some of his compositions for the player 
piano. Two publishing firms ordered several piano pieces from 
him. This resulted in the Four Pieces, Op. 32, Dance, Minuet, 
Gavotte, and Waltz, and the excellent Tales of the Old Grand- 
mother, Op. 31. Who would have thought that these enchant- 
ing lyrical pieces, so full of the flavor of old Russia, could have 
been written to order in the bustling American metropolis? 

Dissatisfied with the publishers' offers, Prokofiev finally 
preferred not to sell his manuscripts. 2 

On December 10 Prokofiev appeared for the first time at a 
symphony concert with Modest Altshuler, a Russian con- 
ductor who had at one time invited Scriabin to America. The 

2 These pieces were later published by Gutheil. The first performance of 
Tales of the Old Grandmother was given on January 7, 1919 in New York. 



concerto (First Piano Concerto) evoked a storm of abusive- 
articles. ''If this is music I am inclined to prefer agriculture," 
was the sarcastic comment of one reviewer. "The composer 
wreaks havoc with the keyboard. The duel between his steel 
fingers and the keys led to the slaughter of harmony" (New 
York Times, December n). "He is the Cossack Chopin of 
future generations. A musical agitator/' predicted Huneker. 
This was the beginning of a protracted war between Prokofiev 
and the New York music critics. 

His longer works had a much better reception in Chicago, 
where they were performed by one of America's leading sym- 
phony orchestras, conducted by Frederick Stock. His Chicago 
debut with the First Concerto and the Scythian Suite was a 
success. The leading Chicago critics correctly appraised the 
historical mission of Prokofiev's music. "Russia, it appears, is 
giving us the long-awaited antidote to French musical impres- 
sionism, to the fragrant delicate twilight that pervades the 
music of pre-war Europe," said the Chicago Daily News (De- 
cember 7, 1918). Nearly all the critics persisted with naive as- 
surance in speaking of the "Bolshevist" nature of the Scythian 
Suite. "The red flag of anarchy waved tempestuously over the 
old Orchestra Hall yesterday as Bolshevist melodies floated 
over the waves of a sea of sound in breath-taking cacophony," 
said the Chicago Herald and Examiner on December 7, 1918. 
The New Majority (October 25, 1919), a labor paper, enthu- 
siastically hailed Prokofiev as a representative of revolutionary 

Before long Prokofiev was approached by Cleofonte Cam- 
panini, chief conductor of the Chicago Opera Company, who 
proposed producing one of his operas. Prokofiev had only the 
piano score of The Gambler to offer, the orchestral score hav- 
ing been left behind in the library of the Maryinsky Theater. 
When he mentioned his plans to write a new opera, The Lore 
for Three Oranges, Campanini was delighted by the idea of 
a light opera on a classic Italian theme. A contract was signed 
in January 1919, and the new opera was to be submitted for 



rehearsals by autumn. Work on The Love for Three Oranges 
proceeded at great speed. Notwithstanding a bout of illness 
(scarlet fever and diphtheria) lasting for six weeks, the com- 
poser completed the piano score of the opera by June 1919, 
and by October 1, according to agreement, the orchestral score 
was submitted. 

"The mixture of fairy-tale, humor, and satire in Gozzi's 
play, and especially its theatrical qualities, had a strong appeal 
for me," Prokofiev recalls. Conceived when the composer was 
still in Russia, The Love for Three Oranges was connected 
with the new trends in the theater directed against the natu- 
ralism and backwardness of the pre-Revolutionary theater. 
These were the same tendencies that in 1922 gave rise to one 
of the most striking productions of the new Soviet theater, 
Princess Turandot, staged by E. Vakhtangov. Like Prokofiev, 
Vakhtangov chose a Gozzi theme because of the splendid ma- 
terial it afforded for gay and sparkling fun and ingenuous ex- 
position of theatrical methods. In this sense there is a close 
affinity between Princess Turandot and The Love for Three 

In contrast to the stark realism of The Gambler, everything 
in The Love for Three Oranges is presented in an ironic tone 
with deliberately accentuated parody and make-believe. The 
Prince is not a real, living character, but a comedian with a 
gift for expressive singing and, more important still, the ability 
to move, dance, and gesticulate to music. We admire the ac- 
tor's skill and follow the development of the plot without for 
a moment believing that it is all true. A light musical perform- 
ance, remarkably laconic and dynamic, The Love for Three 
Oranges is at the same time a subtle parody of the old romantic 
opera with its false pathos and sham fantasy. 

The music is much less harsh and exaggerated than that of 
The Gambler. In The Love for Three Oranges the composer 
revealed the finest aspects of his talent: natural, vivacious dec- 
lamation, spicy, exuberant humor (the jolly Truffaldino and 
the Odd Fellows; the laughter scene, the gay music of the 



March and Scherzo), brilliant harmony and tone color in the 
decorative descriptions and mass scenes (the magician Celio, 
Fata Morgana, the festivities, etc.), and, last but not least, 
enchanting although transient lyrical moments (love of the 
Prince and Ninetta) . 

7. The Love for Three Oranges, theme of Truffaldino. 

The Love for Three Oranges proved to be the most popular 
of Prokofiev's operas. The March from this opera has been 
played all over the world and has moved the most indifferent 
and skeptical of concert-goers. 

The new opera was followed shortly afterward by the Over- 
ture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34, for string quartet, clarinet, 
and piano. This composition, too, was called forth by Proko- 
fiev's old associations. In New York he had met a group of 
former fellow students from the St. Petersburg Conservatory 
who had formed a Jewish chamber ensemble known as the 
Zimro (I. Mestechkin, G. Bezrodny, Karl Moldavan, I. Cher- 
nyavsky, Simeon Bellison, and L. Berdichevsky) . At their in- 
sistent request he wrote, in the space of two days, an excellent 
short overture based on genuine folk motivs suggested by the 
ensemble. The rhythmic forcefulness and scherzo character of 



the Jewish dance melody of the freilachtanz type cleverly off- 
set the slow and mournful cantabile melody. 3 

When the time came for The Love for Three Oranges to be 
produced (the settings had already been ordered from the Rus- 
sian artist Boris Anisfeld) , Campanini suddenly died. The pro- 
duction was postponed until the following season. "This put 
me in a most awkward position," the composer recalls. "I had 
been engaged on the opera for almost a year and had com- 
pletely neglected my concerts." Indeed, after the brief sensa- 
tion occasioned by his initial appearances, Prokofiev's name 
had been forgotten by the concert world. It was with difficulty 
that he succeeded in arranging a number of recitals. He was 
obliged to submit when the managers demanded that his own 
compositions be kept to the minimum because the American 
public could not understand them. And so Prokofiev's piano 
recitals included Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exposition, Schu- 
mann's Carnaval, and even pieces as foreign to his nature as 
Rachmaninoff's preludes, Scriabin's etudes, and Chopin's ma- 
zurkas. Only at the end of the program did he play two or 
three of his own pieces, usually his early piano miniatures 
(Gavotte, Op. 12, Diabolic Suggestions). Prokofiev gave sev- 
eral unsuccessful recitals with this program, including those 
on his tour of Canada in the early part of 1920. 

"Out of sheer despair" Prokofiev started another big opera 
in December 1919. This time it was the plot of Valery Bryu- 
sov's The Flaming Angel that attracted him. "As a matter of 
fact, my interest was not altogether timely," the author admits. 

The Love for Three Oranges like The Gambler was already 
shelved. To write a new opera with no prospects of its produc- 
tion meant working purely for personal satisfaction. But Pro- 
kofiev's passion for the musical theater and his keen interest 
in Bryusov's characters outweighed all practical considerations. 

3 The Overture had its premidre in New York in January 1920. Later it 
was orchestrated for a small symphony orchestra, but some of the specific flavor 
of the national ensemble was lost thereby. 



The libretto and the first two acts of the opera were written 
in an amazingly short time. While The Love for Three Oranges 
was to a considerable extent a synthesis of the humor, parody, 
and decorative fantasy characteristic of Prokofiev's work (the 
world of the gay scherzos, festive marches, and fantastic Dia- 
bolic Suggestions) , in The Flaming Angel the composer gave 
full rein to his gift for tragic expression, his interest in the cruel 
and revolting sides of life, in horrific theatrical phantasma- 
goria and the guignol. 

Valery Bryusov's story, with its subtle imitation of the Ger- 
man humanistic art of the sixteenth century, the epoch of 
Diirer and the Counter-Reformation, its blood-curdling scenes 
of the Inquisition, religious mania and hysteria, and inter- 
weaving of sober historical narrative with gloomy and power- 
ful fantasy, could not have been better suited to Prokofiev's 
purposes. In the music of this opera Prokofiev discarded gro- 
tesquerie and humor in order to depict dramatic emotions and 
oppose two contrasting worlds: that of clear and sober ra- 
tionalism' (Ruprecht, his friends, and Agrippa, the philoso- 
pher) and the morbid religiously erotic ecstasy of Renata. 

The composer gave battle, as it were, to mysticism and 
medieval obscurantism, depicting these survivals of the past 
in all their repulsive nakedness and gloomy grandeur. The 
scenes of Renata 's religious paroxysms, her frightful impreca- 
tions and hysterical outcries, are produced with fearsome, al- 
most pathological expressiveness. 4 The music is based on the 
principle of complex symphonic development, utilizing a 
number of clearly delineated leitmotivs. Some of the latter 
were taken from the sketches of the unfinished quartet "on 
the white keys" ( Renata 's love theme and the monaster}' 
theme) . These same melodies later returned to the domain of 
pure instrumental music when the composer used them as 
thematic material for his Third Symphony (1928). The pro- 

4 A reflection of these expressionist trends can be found later in certain 
scenes of Semyon Kotko (the scene of Lyuba's insanity) and partly in the 
music of Alexander Nevsky ("Crusaders in Pskov") . 



8. The Flaming Angel, Act I, Renata's love theme. 

duction of this opera was seriously hampered subsequently by 
its excess of musical and dramatic material, its pathological 
effects, and a few rather serious violations of the rules of 
dramaturgy. Prolonged negotiations for the production of 
The Flaming Angel with a number of American and European 
theaters ended in failure. 

By the spring of 1920 the composer became finally con- 
vinced that America had nothing more to offer him. "I wan- 
dered through the enormous park in the center of New York 
and, looking up at the skyscrapers bordering it, thought with 
cold fury of the marvelous American orchestras that cared 
nothing for my music and of the critics who reiterated what 
had been said a hundred times before . . . and who balked 
so violently at anything new, of the managers who arranged 
long tours for artists playing the same old hackneyed programs 
fifty times over." 

He thought of returning to his homeland, but Russia at that 
time was blocked on all sides by White Guard fronts. More- 
over, his youthful pride was as strong as ever: he could not 
think of returning to Russia without having won world rec- 
ognition. The grandeur of the revolutionary struggle that was 
raging in his native land in those years was still uncompre- 
hended by him. 

In April 1920 Prokofiev went to Europe. In Paris and later 



in London he met Diaghilev and Stravinsky. And again he fell 
under the spell of Diaghilev's personality, his energy, enter- 
prise, limitless fund of ideas, and ability to mold the artist to 
his will. Diaghilev proposed to produce The Buffoon, ( Chout ) 
the piano score of which he had carefully preserved for five 
years. At his suggestion Prokofiev altered a few ballet numbers, 
added five entr'actes (so that all six scenes could proceed with- 
out a break), and rewrote the final dance. Stravinsky took a 
keen interest in the work and offered a number of suggestions, 
chiefly concerning orchestration. The final touches to The 
Buffoon were completed in Mantes, near Paris, where the 
composer took up his residence for the summer. The ballet 
was scheduled for the opening of Diaghilev's season in 1921. 
In this period the composer completed several piano tran- 
scriptions: the arrangement of an organ fugue by Buxtehude 
and a series of Schubert waltzes and handler forming a com- 
plete suite. 5 Both these pieces were intended for future Ameri- 
can tours. 

His return to America in the autumn of 1920 was another 
disappointment for the composer. The production of The 
Love for Three Oranges again failed to materialize, this time 
because the composer demanded compensation from the Chi- 
cago Opera for breach of contract. "I preferred to sacrifice the 
production rather than allow them to wipe their boots on me." 
His demands were rejected and Prokofiev had to limit himself 
to concert tours, including a most pleasant six weeks' tour of 
California. The programs of his concerts again included a 
large amount of classical music: Beethoven's Sonata in A 
major, Op. 101, Chopin's etudes, his own arrangement of 
Schubert's waltzes, pieces by Lyadov and Rimsky-Korsakov. 
But these concerts lacked the exciting, sensational atmosphere 
of his initial appearances. Prokofiev was obliged to appear on 
the same program with other touring artists, mainly singers. 

5 The idea of using Schubert's waltzes was Stravinsky's. Later, in 19-4, 
Prokofiev revised this suite in a two-piano arrangement ( this time with changes 
in harmony and counterpoint ) . 



The American newspapers now mentioned him merely as a 
pianist, forgetting him as a composer: the caption of a photo- 
graph in the Musical Courier read: "Composer Stravinsky and 
Pianist Prokofiev." 

During his Californian tour Prokofiev wrote five songs with- 
out words for voice and piano in a refined lyrical manner, 
something in the style of the Akhmatova songs. These songs, 
first performed in March 1921 by Nina Koshetz, were not es- 
pecially successful owing to the absence of text; later (1925) 
the composer rewrote them for the violin on the advice of 
Paul Kochanski, the violinist. 6 

It was not until the spring of 1921, when the management 
of the Chicago Opera Company was changed, that the ques- 
tion of the production of the Three Oranges was finally set- 
tled. The new director, the progressive-minded singer Mary 
Garden, celebrated for her performance of the roles of Meli- 
sande and Salome among others, finally included the opera in 
the repertory of the following season. 

Much pleased with his victory, Prokofiev went off to Europe 
again to supervise the production of his Buffoon. His debut in 
Paris with the Scythian Suite, on April 29, 1921, before the 
ballet had its premiere, was given an enthusiastic reception by 
the press. "It is impossible to resist such a happy combination 
of skill and freshness," L'Eclair commented (May 19). 
Shortly afterward Diaghilev opened his season with the pre- 
miere of The Buffoon. The famous producer had taken great 
pains with this ballet. The settings and costumes by Larionov 
were executed in the style of exaggeratedly primitive signboard 
drawing and futurist show-booth manner. The composer him- 
self conducted. The premiere attracted the attention of the 
whole musical world of Paris. The bulk of the press comment 
was extremely laudatory: "A veritable cascade of ideas, inex- 
haustible fund of color, rhythms, melody. . . ." For the Pa- 

6 This writing of a whole scries of extremely emotional vocal miniatures 
without text is extremely symptomatic. It was a sign that Prokofiev could not 
find adequate textual material with which to express the rich fund of ideas he 



risian gourmets, long since sated with hothouse impressionist 
culture, this music coming after the Stravinsky ballets was but 
one more specimen of barbarous Russian exoticism, so deli- 
riously titillating to their jaded appetites. 

The Buffoon is an extremely contradictory phenomenon in 
Prokofiev's music. In the very conception of the ballet, to say 
nothing of its stage reproduction, Diaghilev's influence was 
clearly evident in the tendency to " work for export" — that is, 
to display for the benefit of the Parisian bourgeois everything 
fantastic and eccentric that could be found in Russian art and 
life. The grotesque in The Buffoon is exaggerated to the limit, 
and is essentially an end in itself. It has neither the social satire 
of The Gambler nor the bitter philosophical skepticism of 
Sarcasms. Hence its humor is deceptive, the underlying spirit 
of the music being infinitely pessimistic. The careful empha- 
sis laid on the crude and cynical scenes, the accentuated me- 
chanical rhythms, and the predominance of sharply exagger- 
ated, mercilessly caricatured masks would have had the most 
depressing effect on the modern Soviet audience. 7 

Nevertheless, the composer's amazing gift for musical nar- 
rative, his ability to give the most accurate and laconic expres- 
sion to his ideas, reached a high-water mark in The Buffoon. 
The orchestration, spare, stinging, sharply graphic, with abun- 
dant use of the piano and percussion instruments (no doubt 
the influence of Stravinsky's Noces made itself felt here) , with 
subtle and ingenious employment of diverse string effects, is 
extremely striking. There is a host of brilliant new harmonic 
and tone-color effects in the music: the cries of Molodukha 
when beaten, the amusing pranks of the Buffoon, the confu- 
sion and horror of Stryapka, the cook, the mock funeral of the 
seven wives of the buffoons. It is difficult to enumerate all 
the details and nuances revealing the author's keen powers of 

7 The ballet is a long succession of brutal jests, violence, and murder: in the 
first scene the Buffoon beats his partner with a whip, in the second scene the 
seven buffoons kill their seven wives, in the third the buffoons beat up Molo- 
dukha, in the fourth they attempt to thrash the go-betweens. The fifth dem- 
onstrates the brutal treatment of Kozlukha, etc., etc. 

8 7 


observation, his ability to depict human gestures, movements, 
and emotions with the swift, sharp lines of the cartoonist. But 
what is most appealing about The Buffoon is the Russian 
lyrical quality, which now and then sounds sincere and almost 
serious, despite the mocking irony implicit in the staging by 
Diaghilev and Larionov (the theme of the Merchant's love, 
Molodukha's theme, the main theme of the Buffoon himself, 

9. The Buffoon (Chout), Scene I, central theme. 

which runs through the whole ballet in a manner similar to 
the famous Promenades in Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Expo- 
sition). It is interesting to note that the "Left" critics who 
demanded exotic show-booth clowning from the Diaghilev 
ballet were not altogether satisfied with The Buffoon, some of 
whose elements struck them as being too realistic. "The pro- 
duction is not quite consistent, the grotesque and doll move- 
ments are not sustained throughout: two figures — the young 
Buffoon and the Merchant — strike a jarring note because of 
their realism" (review by N. Zborovsky in Posledniye Novosti, 
May 1921). 

The Buffoon proved to be the last grimace of the Prokofiev 



grotesque, the wickedest and most malicious of them all. 8 It 
is not surprising that soon after The Buffoon Prokofiev him- 
self, as if sensing the danger to his future development, began 
to depart more and more from the grotesque as an end in itself, 
endeavoring to grope his way toward a more serious and intel- 
ligent art. Thus began the long quest that was crowned with 
success only upon the composer's return to his native land. 

If The Buffoon was given a warm reception in Paris, where 
Diaghilev's excesses were taken as a matter of course, its Lon- 
don premiere caused quite a scandal. Nearly all the English 
papers attacked the authors of The Buffoon with frank abuse. 
It was in almost every respect a repetition of the reception ac- 
corded the Scythian Suite in Petrograd five years before. One 
of the critics called The Buffoon a ballet absurdity; another, 
stupid and puerile music; whereas a third, on the other hand, 
considered it a "revelation of musical genius" (Daily Graphic, 
June 16, 1921). One of the reviewers in all seriousness advised 
ballet-goers to "stuff their ears in order not to hear the music." 
Most rabid of all was Ernest Newman in the Sunday Times. 
"Few composers," he wrote, "would venture to write long 
scores so poor in ideas or so primitive in technique as Proko- 
fiev in The Buffoon." 

Diaghilev in a fury replied to the English critics in a long 
and strongly worded letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph 
(July 16, 1921). "Man has invented air navigation and tele- 
phones, and yet people still use these telephones to exchange 
the same imbecile remarks about any new idea, any new phe- 
nomenon," he wrote. "When I was sixteen, I heard someone 
say that Wagner had not composed a single melody; at twenty 
I was assured that the music of Rimsky-Korsakov was nothing 
but mathematics, at twenty-five that Cezanne and Gauguin 
were merely buffoons. And Debussy! And Strauss! And Rous- 

8 A rather clever explanation of Prokofiev's "buffoonery" was once given 
by Lunacharsky. "His rich personality, confined within the environment of a 
mechanized world, feels lost. This explains why buffoonery plays so large a 
role in his music. The buffoon after all is the plaything of society" (Zhizn 
Iskusstva, No. 88, 1926). 



seau! And Matisse! For fifteen years people have been sneering 
at them without suspecting how stupid they looked as they 
did so. It is not difficult to imagine how stupid and banal all 
the abuse the learned critics are leveling at Stravinsky, Picasso, 
Prokofiev, and Larionov sounds. . . ." 

The London hullabaloo over The Buffoon was evidence of 
the fact that Prokofiev's music had preserved its challenging, 
iconoclastic force under European conditions, exciting — as it 
had done before in St. Petersburg — the fury and malice of 
those critics who clung to the old traditions. 9 

After the premiere of The Buffoon, Prokofiev moved in the 
summer of 1921 to the coast of Brittany and applied himself 
with enthusiasm to his work on the Third Piano Concerto, 
begun in Russia. Most of the themes for this concerto had 
been accumulated over a long period of time: the lovely E- 
minor theme of the variations (second movement) dates back 
to 1913, the first two themes in the first movement and two 
variations to 1916-17; the first and second themes of the 
finale are taken from the White Quartet, conceived in 1918 10 
Even the difficult passage of parallel triads in the recapitula- 
tion of the first movement had been preserved from the youth- 
ful sketches of 1911, when, besides a D-flat major Concertino, 
Prokofiev had projected a large concerto full of virtuoso pas- 

Adding a few themes that were still missing (the subordi- 
nate theme of the first movement and the third theme of the 
finale) and combining all into a harmonious three-movement 
design, Prokofiev created one of his finest works, the result of 
many years of experimentation in the field of piano music. 

Subsequent performances of The Buffoon abroad — for instance, in Co- 
logne in 1928 — likewise provoked bostile comment. "Tbis Soviet music de- 
clares war on all the laws, ignores all tbc rules, overthrows all methods . . . 
plunges us into a morass of dissonances, into a vertigo of harsh, disconnected, 
savage shrieking sounds. It is like a lunatic asylum!" (La Gazette de Liege). 

10 The quartet was originally conceived in two parts. Fearing lest sustained 
diatonic style should prove monotonous, Prokofiev in 1921 dispersed the the- 
matic material of the quartet, including part in The Flaming Angel and part 
in the Third Piano Concerto. 



Prokofiev's favorite world of juxtapositions and contrasts is 
presented with classic coherence in the Third Concerto, with 
its soulful Russian lyrical touches (introductory theme to the 
first movement), its virile dynamic forcefulncss (main themes 
of the first movement and finale), and its elegant dance qual- 
ity (theme of the variations). The multiformity of Prokofiev's 
music made itself most strongly felt in the remarkable varia- 
tions (second movement), where the theme is now "mechan- 
ized," subjected to spiteful caricature distortions reminiscent 
of The Buffoon, now floating away into the realm of pure fan- 
tasy, now again changing to the powerful springy movement 
of the piano runs. The finale of the concerto, like that of the 
First Piano Concerto, is a hymn to the triumph of human will 
and energy. Here is a composition that deserves a place along- 
side the concertos of Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff 
on our concert programs. 

Simultaneously Prokofiev composed five songs, Op. 36, to 
the pretentious and morbidly mystical poetry of Balmont. 
These songs (particularly the last of them, Pillars), depress- 
ingly gloomy and despondent in mood, possess features of 
over-refined chromatic style and elements of exoticism in the 
spirit of Gauguin's vivid canvases not at all in keeping with 
Prokofiev. 11 • 

At last the long-awaited premiere of The Love for Three 
Oranges was due. In October 1921 Prokofiev made his third 
trip to America, to participate in the preparations for the 
premiere. He supervised the direction of the performance and 
gave instructions to the solo singers and the chorus, ignoring 
the presence of the stage director. The role of Fata Morgana 
was played by Nina Koshetz. 12 The premiere of The Love for 

11 When Prokofiev wrote music to the poetry of the symbolists he almost 
invariably began to speak in a "foreign language," as it were, searching for all 
manner of palate-tickling harmonies and refined contemplation: for example, 
the "symbolist" songs In My Garden and Trust Me in Op. 23. There is an 
eery mystical flavor, not without a shade of sarcasm, in the Gray Dress, song 
to words by Z. Hippius (Op. 23, 1915). 

12 The Prince was sung by Jos6 Mojica. — Editor. 


Three Oranges, on December 30, 1921, was warmly received 
by the Chicago public. The press too was extremely favorable. 
In New York, on the other hand, where the Chicago com- 
panv presented the opera in Februarv 1922, the reception was 
definitely hostile. The critics again foamed at the mouth. "The 
cost of the production is 1 30,000 dollars, which is 43,000 dol- 
lars for each orange," was the facetious comment of one of the 
reviewers, "but the opera fell so flat that its repetition would 
spell financial ruin." 

A similar fate awaited the first American performance of 
the Third Piano Concerto: Chicago, where it was played on 
December 16 and 17 under the baton of Frederick Stock, gave 
it a warm reception, while New York (December 26 and 27, 
under the direction of Coates) condemned it. 

Prokofiev's hopes that Mary Garden would produce The 
Flaming Angel at the Chicago Opera fell through when she 
unexpectedly resigned her post. "The American season, which 
had begun so promisingly, fizzled out completely for me. . . . 
I was left with a thousand dollars in my pocket and an ache in 
my head, to say nothing of a fervent desire to get away to some 
place where I could work in peace." 

Prokofiev left America and in March 1922 settled in Ettal r 
a small, picturesque hamlet in Bavaria, two miles from Ober- 
ammergau. After four years of incessant wandering and tense 
struggle, the composer felt an urgent need of a change of en- 
vironment in order to review his work over a period of many 
years. He staved in Ettal for a year and a half, making occa- 
sional trips to various European centers for concerts and pre- 
mieres. 13 The Flaming Angel, begun in America, finally took 
definite shape in Ettal. Oberammergau was famed for its medi- 

13 In April 1922 the premiere of his Third Concerto was held in Paris 
(Koussevitzky) and in London (Coates). In June The Buffoon was revived in 
Paris. In January 1923 the Sc\'thian Suite caused a sensation in Brussels, where 
the two hostile camps into which the audience divided almost came to blows. 
In the spring of 1923 Prokofiev made concert tours to Barcelona, Paris, Ant- 
werp, Brussels, and London. Germany had not yet recovered from the effects of 
the war and took little interest in new Russian music: the performance of the 
Hebrew Overture and fragments from the Three Oranges passed unnoticed. 


eval Passion Play and it occurred to the composer that the 
witches' Sabbaths described in Bryusov's story must have taken 
place somewhere in the vicinity. Here too he wrote the Fifth 
Piano Sonata (1923), prepared the piano scores of The Buf- 
foon and The Love for Three Oranges for publication, made 
a symphonic suite out of The Buffoon, and rewrote the Second 
Piano Concerto, the score of which had been lost in Petrograd. 

In the course of 1922 and 1923 the Gutheil and Kousse- 
vitzky firm published nearly all of Prokofiev's works written in 
that period. Koussevitzky, with his extensive opportunities as 
publisher and concert manager, was, with Diaghilev, the main 
force that kept Prokofiev abroad by tempting him with the 
prospects of world renown. 

In the summer of 1922 after the revival of The Buffoon 
Prokofiev met Stravinsky again. The latter sharply criticized 
the Three Oranges, refusing to listen to more than one act. The 
result was a conflict between the two composers. In his turn 
Prokofiev told Stravinsky of his antipathy to the latter's recent 
work. The two collaborators in the Diaghilev ballet were thus 
estranged for several years. Diaghilev, disappointed in The 
Love for Three Oranges, also lost interest in Prokofiev's work. 

On the other hand, Prokofiev had resumed contact with the 
Soviet Union. In May 1923 the Moscow magazine K Novym 
Beregam published a report by Prokofiev on his work abroad. 
His Soviet friends Miaskovsky and Asafyev, with whom he 
corresponded, kept him well informed about the musical ac- 
tivities that had been revived in Moscow and Petrograd with 
the termination of civil war. Beginning with 1923, a growing 
interest in Prokofiev's music arose in the U.S.S.R. A series 
of Musical Exhibitions arranged by the International Book 
Society in Moscow and several Evenings of New Music held 
somewhat later in Leningrad were largely responsible for this. 
About this time the Music Department of the State Publish- 
ing House began to put out some of Prokofiev's compositions, 
the first to appear being the score of Seven, They Are Seven, 
in 1922. 



The leading article in the 1924 New Year's issue of the 
Leningrad magazine Zhizn Iskusstva mentioned Prokofiev as 
an eminent Russian composer who had been stranded abroad. 
"However wide we have thrown open the 'window into Eu- 
rope,' nothing will compensate us for the protracted absence 
from Russia of some of her finest musicians. In the coming 
year we shall await news of the repatriation of our 'foreign' 

But the Soviet journal's appeal never reached Prokofiev. "I 
had not at that time fully grasped the significance of what was 
happening in the U.S.S.R.," Prokofiev explained later. "I did 
not realize that the events there demanded the collaboration 
of all citizens — not only men of politics, as I had thought, but 
men of art as well. Moreover, I was tied down by the routine 
of the life I was leading: publishing compositions, correcting 
proofs, attending concerts, endeavoring to prove my point in 
arguments with other composers representing different musi- 
cal trends. Family affairs too played no small part: the long 
illness of my mother, ending in her death, my marriage, and 
the birth of my son." 

The brief pause in Prokofiev's activities during his sojourn 
in Bavaria was something in the nature of a summing up of 
his creative endeavors over the past period. The Fifth Sonata, 
Op. 38, the only new thing he wrote here, excluding his work 
on The Flaming Angel, was on the borderline between the 
former Prokofiev style relating to the Petrograd period and 
the new "foreign" Prokofiev. While in the C-major first move- 
ment the classical clarity of idea, the characteristic emphasis 
on fresh harmonic juxtapositions and unity of development 
(in the spirit of the Third and Fourth Sonatas) still predomi- 
nate, we find in the main theme of the finale an intricate 
chromatic style, an unnatural complexity of melody, with in- 
vention clearly taking the upper hand over genuine feeling. 
Similar themes are thenceforward quite common in Proko- 
fiev's music. 

I lis departure for Paris from Ettal in October 1923 marked 



a new period in Prokofiev's work, perhaps the least significant 
of all. 

What can we say about the five years (1918 to 1923) that 
mark the first stage of Prokofiev's "foreign period"? From the 
the standpoint of his career as a composer, the first five years 
spent abroad marked the culmination of all he had achieved 
until then: the enormous running start he had taken in the 
years 1916 and 1917, the powerful creative impulse, had con- 
tinued to operate under foreign conditions, giving rise to such 
significant works as the Third Concerto, The Love for Three 
Oranges, the Hebrew Overture, the piano pieces, Op. 31 and 
32, songs, Op. 35 and 36, and, last but not least, The Flaming 
Angel. It is noteworthy that the best of these compositions, 
which are inseparably bound up with Russian art trends of the 
pre-Revolutionary times, had been conceived before the com- 
poser left Russia (the Three Oranges, the themes for the Third 
Concerto and The Flaming Angel) . Op. 31 and 32 are directly 
associated with the style of the Fugitive Visions and other 
piano pieces of the "pre-foreign" period. The Flaming Angel 
was likewise an expression of the composer's former interests, 
the expressionistic guignol tastes that had made themselves 
felt in Magdalene and such of the earlier piano pieces as 
Phantom and Despair. 

During these years Prokofiev had completed, revised, and 
prepared for production or publication a number of composi- 
tions that had likewise originated in Russia (The Buffoon, 
Violin Concerto, Second Concerto for piano, etc. ) . 

His numerous appearances as a conductor, and especially as 
a pianist, consolidated abroad the renown he had won by his 
attainments while in Russia. The excesses begun in St. Peters- 
burg and Moscow were continued in approximately the same 
forms in the concert halls of New York, London, and Chicago. 
The powerful oratorical nature of Prokofiev's piano style as- 
tounded, shocked, and frightened the academic audiences of 
the West. Regardless of his personal intentions and convic- 
tions, Prokofiev the composer and pianist was in the eyes of 



the Western public a bearer of the new Russian culture, the 
artistic expression of the revolutionary processes that were at 
work in Russia. 

But the inertia of the past could not last forever. Having 
broken away from the national and social sources that had 
nourished him for so long even at such a distance from his 
homeland, Prokofiev had found no new potent creative stimuli 
for himself in the West. From 1924 on, his absence from his 
native land began to exercise an increasingly negative influ- 
ence on his work. 

/ : The Crisis 

How could I have failed to emerge for a 
quarter of a year from the thrall of de- 
mons and devils — I who am so accus- 
tomed to the clear and distinct world of 
ships' rigging and military maneuvers? 
Valery Bryusov: The Flaming Angel, 
Chapter vi, p. 1 37 

XARIS, where Prokofiev took up his residence in Oc- 
tober 1923, became his chief headquarters for the next ten 
years. He had already made a name for himself in Parisian 
music circles with the Scythian Suite, The Buffoon, and the 
Third Concerto. His removal to the French capital coincided 
with the premiere of his Violin Concerto, played on October 
18 by Darrieux under the direction of Koussevitzky. The serene 
lyrical quality of the concerto had but little attraction for the 
Paris public, with its insatiable desire for new thrills. The 
more celebrated violinists, including Hubermann, refused to 
play it. Incidentally, this remarkable piece of music was first 
played by an ordinary concert-master. 1 The Paris critics gave 

1 During the summer of 1924 the concerto was performed at a musical 
festival of new productions in Prague by Joseph Szigcti, thanks to whom it sub- 
sequently won world recognition. 



the concerto a rather cold reception. For the first time Proko- 
fiev found himself criticized from the Left for writing music 
that was too lucid and not sufficiently intricate in pattern. 
Among those who disapproved of the concerto were the com- 
posers Nadia Boulanger, Georges Auric, and the White emigre 
Scriabinite critic Boris de Schloezer. Auric found traces of 
artificiality and what he called Mendelssohnism in the con- 

The living and human quality in Prokofiev, that quality 
which was stubbornly breaking through all his modernistic 
formalist Leftism, could not find favor with the sophisticated 
public of the French capital. Hence, from the very beginning 
of his stay in Paris, Prokofiev felt strong hostile pressure from 
the Left formalistic art circles. Somewhat later this attitude to 
Prokofiev's art was expressed with brutal frankness by Stravin- 
sky in a conversation. Praising Prokofiev for his talents, the 
Paris maitre admitted that there was "something he did not 
like" about Prokofiev's music: "A certain instability of his cul- 
ture, some indefinable quality in his musical gift, precisely 
that quality, incidentally, which is now making him such a 
success in Russia" (Zhizn Iskusstva, June 14, 1927, Leningrad, 
"A Conversation with Stravinsky"). 

The art world of Paris in the twenties fundamentally dif- 
fered but little from that noisy, blatant market-place, with its 
essential indifference to genuine art, so vividly described by 
Romain Rolland in Jean-Christophe. The names alone had 
changed: the cult of Debussy was replaced by the cult of Stra- 
vinsky. A new sextet of composers was being strenuously 
pushed to the fore (Milhaud, Honegger, Poulenc, Auric, etc.), 
proclaiming the principles of constructivism and polytonality, 
the cult of urbanist, machine-like art. France in those years 
was jealously striving to promote her own national youth, a 
group of arrogant young musicians totally indifferent to tra- 

Essentially, however, musical life remained the same as that 
described in Rolland's La Voire sur la place: "Composers 



searched assiduously for new chord combinations in order to 
express — does it matter what? New expression. Just as the or- 
gan, it is said, creates the need, so also will expression finally 
generate thought; the important thing is that it be new. Nov- 
elty at any price! They lived in morbid dread of anything that 
had been 'said before.' Even the most talented of them were 
paralyzed by this dread." 

This tendency toward pseudo-innovation made itself most 
strongly felt in the art of postwar France, where Left artists of 
all shades and descriptions vied desperately with one another 
in upsetting every known aesthetic canon. Impressionist art, 
in which the artist's subjectivity had nevertheless sprung from 
some perception of reality, was replaced by a whole series of 
new and more Left trends in which subjectivity in art was 
carried to the extreme. 2 Reality ceased to exist for the artist; 
indeed, nothing mattered except subjective impulse, the un- 
trammeled license of the artist himself. Turning his back on 
living nature, the artist gave expression exclusively to his own 
ideas, concocting things and splitting them up into their com- 
ponent parts, distorting them in any way he pleased. Imagin- 
ing himself a superman, capable at will of solving and explain- 
ing the riddle of the universe, the artist depicted an object not 
as he saw it in life but as he knew or sensed it. The result was 
that his work not only lost all reality, but carried no message. 
Its value was measured solely by the ingenuity and originality 
of the artist, whose perception of life was governed by laws 
known to him alone. 

Such were the canons of the new art that flourished in west- 
ern Europe during the period of the First World War. 3 This 

2 To this category belonged such varied trends as cubism and constructivism, 
with their cult of pure form and business-like lack of feeling, or, on the other 
hand, German expressionism, with its mystical symbolism and morbid high- 
pitched emotions. 

3 I do not intend to touch here upon the question of the great internal 
contradictions in this art, its rebellious tendencies reflecting the protest of the 
artistic intelligentsia against the antiquated standards of academic art. It is no 
accident that many artists brought up on expressionism or constructivism sub- 
sequently took the road of revolutionary social art (the German painters George 
Grosz and others, and Hans Eislcr and Honcggcr in music). 

9 8 


was the atmosphere in which Prokofiev's music developed 
during his years in Paris. Finding no support for the best and 
healthiest tendencies in him manifested in the past, the com- 
poser was gradually drawn into the vortex of the Paris art 
world, enticed by ultra-radical advisers from the Left. 

In the spring of 1924 Kousseviteky again presented Proko- 
fiev to the Paris public. On May 8 the composer appeared with 
a new version of his Second Concerto and on May 29 the can- 
tata Seven, They Are Seven was performed for the first time. 
Both compositions, particularly the savagely mystical Chal- 
dean invocation, suited the tastes of the Paris musical world. 
This time, however, Prokofiev was accused of using old com- 
positions to win new success. Determined to show the Pari- 
sians that he could write music no less modernistic than the 
fashionable Six, he conceived a plan for a new symphonic work 
"made of iron and steel." The Second Symphony in D minor, 
Op. 40, which took him all of 1924 to compose, is one of the 
least successful of Prokofiev's works. Employing the sharp cu- 
bistic methods of the Scythian Suite (simultaneous movement 
of continually recurring figures at various levels of the orches- 
tra), and using a huge orchestra, the composer created an edi- 
fice of sound that was extremely complicated and overloaded, 
whose barbaric savage noises were this time not justified bv the 
subject. Most of the themes, especially the principal theme of 
the first movement, are strikingly artificial, angular, zigzagged, 
and almost geometrical as to melody. Borrowing the outline of 
the symphony from one of Beethoven's later works (two-part 
structure of the sonata Op. 1 1 1 — a long Allegro followed by a 
theme with variations), the composer was unable to find ade- 
quate ideas and emotions to inspire it. The development of its 

10. Second Symphony, 1st movement, main theme. 



idea was sacrificed to noise effects and contrapuntal intrica- 
cies, and the variations seemed artificial and lacking in that 
rich multiformity in genre which was so enchanting in the 
variations of the Third Concerto. On the whole, the symphony 
is a queer cross between chaotic primitive barbarism and the 
ultra-modern urbanist machine style of the period. 

While working on the symphony Prokofiev wrote the music 
for a short ballet, Trapeze, for the Romanoff, a roving ballet 
company. As the plot (which dealt with circus life) did not 
particularly interest him, the composer regarded the work in 
the light of a purely technical problem in instrumentation: 
namely, to write a piece of chamber music for an unusual com- 
bination of instruments: oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and 
doublebass. The piece was subsequently published as a quintet, 
Op. 39, and performed as an independent chamber work. 4 The 
chromatic style of the quintet, its excessive refinement of ex- 
pression, the complex constructivist technique of its simulta- 
neously developed melodies, and the studied artificiality of its 
ideas place it in the same class as the Second Symphony. 

Following a number of recitals in the 1924-5 season, 5 Pro- 
kofiev submitted his new composition to the judgment of 
Paris. When, however, on June 6, 1925, his Second Symphony 
was performed at a Koussevitzky concert, even the sophisti- 
cated Parisians were puzzled by it. The critics were unanimous 
in expressing their disapproval of the piece and their disap- 
pointment in Prokofiev's gifts. "It occurred to me that I might 
perhaps be destined to become a second-rate composer," Pro- 
kofiev confesses. And, indeed, fickle Paris was as capable of ex- 
alting a fashionable name to the skies as of trampling it in the 
gutter. "The vogue did not last long and the idol invariably 
awoke one fine morning to find himself on the rubbish-heap" 
(Jean-Christophe) . This was the sad fate that threatened 

4 Later the composer added several more items to the six original numbers 
(those included subsequently in Divertissement, Op. 43). 

5 December 5, recital of four sonatas in Paris; January 24, first pianoforte 
recital in Berlin; March 14, first European performance of The Love for Three 
Oranges (Cologne). 



Sergei Prokofiev. Poverty, disillusionment, the lot of the de- 
posed idol stared him in the face. His Soviet friends watched 
this disastrous decline of the Prokofiev vogue in Europe with 
deep regret. "Paris is adamant: Stravinsky, Stravinsky, and 
Stravinsky! No wonder Prokofiev's star is setting on that hori- 
zon," commented Zhizn Iskusstva a year later, "and ... art 
circles are speaking of him as if he were dead. Prokofiev does 
not exude the odor of putrefaction so dear to the nostrils of 
the Paris bourgeois . . ." (Zhizn Iskusstva, No. 21, 1926, ar- 
ticle by N. Malkov). 

At this critical moment Diaghilev, his former patron, re- 
membered him again. Shortly after the performance of the 
Second Symphony, Diaghilev made Prokofiev a new and quite 
unexpected offer. This time the famous maitre asked for a 
ballet depicting life in Soviet Russia. "I could not believe 
my ears," Prokofiev recalls. "It was as if a fresh breeze had 
blown through my window." Georgi Yakulov, Soviet theatri- 
cal constructivist artist, was invited to write the libretto. It was 
decided to present a number of scenes from the period of the 
Civil War and the new industrial upsurge in the U.S.S.R. The 
first part of the ballet was to show the break-up of the old or- 
der: meetings, speeches by commissars, trains full of food 
speculators, a former duchess bartering her gowns for food, a 
Revolutionary sailor, and homeless waifs. The second part was 
to present a picture of Socialist construction, the building of 
new plants and factories, yesterday's sailor turned worker, and 
so on. Prokofiev launched into this work with enthusiasm. He 
welcomed it, firstly, as an opportunity to write music with a 
truly Russian flavor and, secondly, to proclaim his repudiation 
of the chromatic intricacies of the quintet and the Second 
Symphony and his return to a strict, purely diatonic style. By 
the autumn of 1925 the piano score of the new ballet was 
ready. Diaghilev accepted it for production, naming it Le Pas 
d'acier. Prokofiev's symptomatic turn to Soviet subjects was 
noted with interest by the press of Moscow and Leningrad. 
The production of the new ballet in Paris, however, was ham- 



pered by diverse political considerations. Diaghilev, chary of 
startling his Paris clients with such an unexpected subject, was 
in no hurry to produce it. 

While working on the orchestration of Le Pas d'acier Pro- 
kofiev made a long concert tour through the United States in 
the winter of 1925-6, this time received as a recognized mas- 
ter. The American tour was followed in the spring of 1926 by a 
number of concerts in Italy. In Naples Prokofiev met and was 
most cordially received by Maxim Gorky, who carried the com- 
poser off with him to his villa in Sorrento for a long, heart-to- 
heart talk lasting far into the night. 

The year 1926 saw Prokofiev's name once again in the lime- 
light, both in western Europe and in the U.S.S.R., as a result 
of a few performances of The Love for Three Oranges. 6 Much 
was done to popularize Prokofiev's music in this period by the 
Moscow Persimfans orchestra, the first symphony ensemble 
without a conductor. Composed of leading Moscow musicians, 
Persimfans gave concerts every Monday in the Moscow Con- 
servatory in the period between 1922 and 1932. 

Bruno Walter also became interested in Prokofiev at this 
time, and offered to produce his Flaming Angel at one of the 
Berlin theaters. In the summer of 1926 Prokofiev orchestrated 
and revised The Flaming Angel and worked on his B-flat major 
American Overture. The latter, ordered by a New York music 
firm for the opening of a new concert hall, was intended for a 
seventeen-piece orchestra. 7 In the center are two pianos, 
doubled by two harps and a celesta; five woodwinds take the 
lead, supported by two trumpets and a trombone, with two 
cellos, a doublcbass, and a few percussion instruments for ac- 
companiment. The music of this overture was distinguished 

8 On February 18 the opera had its premiere in the former Maryinsky 
Theater in Leningrad (conductor, Dranislinikov; producer, S. Radlov). On 
October 9 it was produced in Berlin (conductor, Leo Blcch). In Paris the opera 
was not a success; and a symphonic suite adapted from the Three Oranges, 
first played on November 29, 1925, was coldly received by Paris circles. This 
suite, written in 1924, consisted of six numbers: "Odd Fellows," "Scene in 
Hades," March, Scherzo, "The Prince and the Princess," and "Flight." 

7 Later, in 1928, the overture was revised for a large orchestra. 



by clarity of form, simple harmonics in a gay, festive dance- 
manner, offset by pleasant lyrical episodes, now contempla- 
tive, now stirringly poetic. Were it not for several deliberate 
eccentricities in some of the episodes (for example, the abso- 
lutely unwarranted intrusion of the percussion instruments in 
the main theme with the obvious intent of marring the over- 
commonplace flow of the music) , one might have thought that 
the composer had completely abandoned the stylistic excesses 
of his Paris period. 

Beginning with 1925, Prokofiev's connections with Soviet 
music circles began to grow, through correspondence with the 
Persimfans and with the management of the Maryinsky Thea- 
ter. After having been dropped so abruptly by the Parisians, 
the composer felt that the interest of the Soviet public in his 
music was much more solid and sincere. 8 To the West Proko- 
fiev had always been a stranger from a distant land, evoking 
little more than a passing curiosity (the Americans usually re- 
ferred to him as "that young Russian"). To Soviet musical 
circles, on the other hand, he was "our Prokofiev/' one of the 
outstanding representatives of the new Russian music. In one 
of his numerous articles on music written in the spring of 
1926, Lunacharsky said of Prokofiev's work: "The freshness 
and rich imagination characteristic of Prokofiev bear testimony 
to his unusual talent. . . . His pure lyricism is tremendously 
significant. ... In order that his talents may blossom to the 
full, Prokofiev must return to us." 

In the course of his travels in America and Europe in 1926 
Prokofiev decided to visit the U.S.S.R. In January 1927, after 
an absence of nearly nine years, he returned to his native land. 
One of the first steps he took upon reaching his homeland was 
to take Soviet citizenship. 

8 In addition to the Leningrad production of The Love for Three Oranges, 
much interest was aroused by Feinberg's performance of the Third Concerto 
(Moscow, March 22, 1925, under the direction of K. Saradzhev), the Violin 
Concerto by Joseph Szigeti (1924-5), the first performance of the Scythian 
Suite in Moscow (Persimfans) and a number of performances of the March 
and Scherzo from the Three Oranges (Oscar Fried). 



His three months in the U.S.S.R. proved to be a grand tri- 
umph, the like of which the composer had never before ex- 
perienced. He was extremelv happv to meet many of his old 
friends and fellow musicians — Miaskovsky, Asafvev, Sarad- 
zhev, and others. In Moscow Prokofiev gave eight concerts with 
tremendous success. Here is a description of one recital given 
on January 26: "It was not a concert, it was an event. The few 
dissenting voices were drowned out by the flood of unanimous 
recognition and approval. There was a sort of peculiar magic 
in the performance and, indeed, the composer himself played 
with an elan that was quite natural, considering that he was 
playing for an audience that could not but be particularly near 
and dear to him" (Sovremennaya Muzyha, No. 20, 1927, arti- 
cle by K. Kuznetsov). More cordial still was the reception ac- 
corded Prokofiev in Leningrad. "Between concerts I roamed 
the streets and embankments recalling with tenderness the 
city* in which I had spent so manv vears." 

Prokofiev acquainted himself with the works of the young 
Leningrad composers, and was especiallv attracted by the tal- 
ents of twenty-year-old Shostakovich and Gabriel Popov. 9 He 
was much pleased bv the brilliant production of The Love for 
Three Oranges. Lunacharskv, who was with him at the opera, 
compared it to a "glass of champagne." 

After Leningrad the composer visited Kharkov, Kiev, and 
Odessa, giving two pianoforte recitals in each city* before re- 
turning to Moscow, where he gave another three concerts. 10 

His visit to the Soviet Union was brief this time. Although 
much impressed bv the new culture that was being created 
in his Soviet homeland, and deeply flattered by the warm and 
friendlv reception he had been given, the composer was not 

9 In subsequent vears Prokofiev exerted no small effort to popularize abroad 
the work of Soviet composers — Miaskovsky, Shostakovich, Shebhalin, Khacha- 
turvan, and others. On one of his American tours he played some of Miaskov- 
10 At one of these concerts his quintet with woodwinds (Op. 39) was per- 
formed for the first time. During this visit to the U.S.S.R. the Overture for a 
scventccn-piecc orchestra (Op. 42) had its premiere in Europe. 



yet ready to sever his ties with the West. The Diaghilev pre- 
miere of Le Pas d'acier was due and there were hopes of hav- 
ing The Flaming Angel produced in Germany. Notwithstand- 
ing his Soviet passport, Prokofiev continued to be a Parisian 
for another six years. 

At last, in June 1927, he Pas d'acier had its sensational pre- 
miere in Paris. On July 4 Diaghilev even risked presenting the 
ballet in London. The London premiere was attended by the 
whole English fashionable world, including the Prince of 
Wales. The majority of the critics gave the ballet an enthusi- 
astic reception. 

"For one familiar with the Russian ballet . . . the presen- 
tation of Prokofiev's Bolshevist ballet was something of a 
shock. . . . But ... if the 'Red' composer writes better 
music than Stravinsky, then let us hear it by all means," said 
the Daily Telegraph (July 5) . "He travels through the civilized 
world but refuses to belong to it" (Daily Mail, July 11). "As an 
apostle of Bolshevism he has no peer. Writers and orators have 
been telling us about all this for years, but Prokofiev's ballet 
expresses the spirit of modern Russia better than all their ef- 
forts taken together" (Empire News). "With the exception 
of the Noces this is the most powerful Diaghilev production 
of the postwar period" (the Musical Times, August 1927). 
Some critics were frankly puzzled: was this another product 
of the inexhaustible imagination of the famous Russian pro- 
ducer, or was it merely Bolshevik propaganda? "A queer pro- 
duction from start to finish, can it possibly be intended to re- 
place A Life for the Tsar?" one Paris paper wondered. "You 
think the public was scandalized? Not in the least. Snobs, cast- 
ing their eyes upward, breathed: 'charmant,' 'epatant,' 'rigoloj 
and called for the authors seven times at the end of the per- 
formance." No less sensational was the success in England. 
"Like the Parisians before them, the Londoners looked and 
listened, thrilled by the spectacle, and at every pause the hall 
rocked with applause" (Boston Evening Transcript, July 23). 
In reactionary White emigre circles, haunted by the specter 



of Communist propaganda, Le Pas d'acier evoked a storm of 
wrath and indignation. 

For Prokofiev this ballet was a sincere attempt to draw a 
true picture of revolutionary Russia. However, Diaghilev made 
use of the idea to produce for the Paris snobs another ex- 
travagant spectacle, a dash of Bolshevist exoticism to tickle 
the palates of the elite. It showed a comical sailor tattooed 
from head to foot, with an ear-ring in one ear and a single felt 
boot, jolly cigarette and candy venders, the shabby aristocrat 
selling her possessions on the market, and steam hammers 
raising an ear-splitting din. As for the music of the ballet, the 
composer, who had never actually known Soviet reality, had 
to limit himself to depicting externals in a starkly graphic 
manner. He was primarily concerned with the naturalistic 
reproduction of factory noises and the rattle and din of the ma- 
chinery. Here the purposeless urbanism of the Second Sym- 
phony sought for a justification. The Russian melodies he in- 
vented to portray the sailor, the commissar, and the working 
woman seemed jagged and uneven, and were almost invariably 
mutilated by deliberately discordant counterpoint. The whole 
idea of revolutionary reconstruction in Russia was reduced by 
the authors of Le Pas d'acier to a noisy though picturesque 
hurly-burly, motley crowds and the grinding roar of engines, 
all of which in no way differed fundamentally from the me- 
chanical types of Western urbanistic art. Presented in this way, 
the Soviet types were actually discredited, notwithstanding the 
composer's good intentions. Few and far between in the score 
of Le Pas d'acier were the fresh, unblemished Russian themes 
that showed that the composer had not yet forgotten his na- 
tive language (for example, the A-minor theme in the "Train 
of Speculators" episode. 

Several other premieres of Prokofiev's works occurred simul- 
taneously with Le Pas d'acier: on May 7 the ballet Die Er- 
losten, to the music of Ala and Lolli, was presented in Berlin; ri 

11 Max Tcmpis, ballet-master at the Berlin Opera, supplied the music of 
the Scythian Suite with a mystical plot full of angels, cherubs, demons, etc. 
Prokofiev considered the production a failure. 



V ,ott - to v/ 

11. Le Pas d'acier, The Train of Speculators. 

on May 19 The Love for Three Oranges was produced at the 
Moscow Grand Opera (not quite so successfully as in Lenin- 
grad); on October 11 a ballet to the music of Ala and Lolli 
was performed in Buenos Aires; and in the beginning of Janu- 
ary 1928 The Buffoon was given at the Kiev Opera House. 

Opera still continued to loom large among Prokofiev's in- 
terests. In the summer of 1927 he completed the orchestration 
of The Flaming Angel. However, although the Berlin Opera 
had accepted it and the piano score with the text in German 
was printed, the opera was never produced. Then, discovering 
the manuscript of The Gambler in the library of the former 
Maryinsky Theater exactly as he had left it, Prokofiev resumed 
work on this opera. Much of the original version, written eleven 
years before, struck him as unnecessarily complex and over- 
loaded with musical horrors. He simplified a number of epi- 
sodes, discarding everything that encumbered the vocal parts. 
In this way the second version of The Gambler, produced on 
April 29, 1929 at the Royal Theater of Brussels, came into be- 
ing. 12 Somewhat later, in 1930-1, The Gambler was used as a 
basis for a symphonic suite entitled Portraits, Op. 49, which 
included all the principal musical characteristics of the opera 
(first movement, Alexei; second movement, Babulenka; third 

12 The opera was carefully produced, but was not understood by wide sec- 
tions of the audience. A pianoforte arrangement of the opera was published in 
1930 by Gutheil and Koussevitzky. 



movement, Pauline; forth movement, the General; fifth move- 
ment, Gambling Den). 

After two virtually barren years (apart from the small Amer- 
ican Overture and the revision of The Gambler he wrote 
nothing in 1926 and 1927) a certain creative revival occurred 
in Prokofiev's work. 1928 saw the advent of the two most sig- 
nificant fruits of the Paris period: namely, the Third Sym- 
phony, Op. 44, and the ballet L'Enfant prodigue, Op. 46. 

The Third Symphony represents an independent non-pro- 
gram composition incorporating the chief musical images of 
The Flaming Angel. 13 It is the most dramatic and emotional 
of Prokofiev's four symphonies. After his graceful imitations 
of court music [Classical Symphony) and the dizzy intrica- 
cies of his iron and steel music (Second Symphony), the com- 
poser wrote a powerful and stirring narrative of human passion 
and suffering. The two basic themes of the first movement are 
those depicting Renata's mental anguish in The Flaming An- 
gel: her despair (chromatic ostinato figures in the introduc- 
tion) and her love for Madiel (a broad, lilting melody on the 
"white keys") . In contrast to these is the calm, confident subor- 
dinate theme of Rupprecht the Knight. The suffering and pain 
depicted in this music is by no means a humble submission to 
the forces of destiny; it is presented as a powerful expression of 
emotion, couched in harsh, biting, unequivocal phrases. The 
forces opposing man are presented not as abstract symbols, but 
as a palpable world of revolting, frightful apparitions. Hence 
the stark discordant harmonies, the polytonal touches, and so 
forth. In sharp contrast to the first movement is the detached, 
ethereal music of the Andante, with its archaic diatonism (from 
the beginning of Act V in The Flaming Angel: Renata in the 
monastery) . The wild tempestuous movement of the Scherzo, 
as the composer himself admits, was suggested by the finale 

13 The composer vehemently protests against attempts to regard the sym- 
phony as a program work based on the themes of The Flaming Angel, on the 
ground that the principal themes of the piece were written as purely instru- 
mental motivs before he began working on the opera (sec his "Notes" in 
Sovietskaya Muzyka, No. 3, 1933)- 



of Chopin's B-flat minor Sonata, here intensified tenfold by 
the furious, chaotic torrent of orchestral color. The finale- 
brings us back to the world of tragic visions and monstrous in- 
vocations, partly repeating the material of the first movement. 
"J feel that in this symphony I have succeeded in deepening 
my musical language," Prokofiev wrote several years later. "I 
should not want the Soviet listener to judge me solely by the 
March from Three Oranges and the Gavotte from the Classi- 
cal Symphony." It was evidently to confirm the seriousness and 
depth of his symphonic quests, as well as in tribute to a friend- 
ship of many years' standing, that Prokofiev dedicated this 
symphony to Miaskovsky, one of the most confirmed sym- 
phonists of our time. 14 

But if the Third Symphony was something of an "echo of 
the past," being made up chiefly of materials relating to 1918 
and 1919, L'Enfant prodigue represented a new departure in 
Prokofiev's music. 

It was Diaghilev's last order to Prokofiev for his ballet 
troupe. Having given the Parisians a taste of "Bolshevist ex- 
oticism" with he Pas d'acier, the indefatigable producer pro- 
posed a new subject to Prokofiev, this time from the Gospel 
according to St. Luke. The Diaghilev ballet, it will be seen, 
had an absolutely unlimited range of themes to choose from: 
yesterday scenes from the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, 
today the Biblical parable of the prodigal son. And inasmuch 
as the fifteenth chapter of Luke is not exactly suitable for a 
ballet libretto in its original form, Diaghilev and his colleagues 
added some of the necessary details. The Prodigal Son, leav- 
ing his father's home, meets his friends, who make him drunk 
and rob him, after which he returns, beaten and humiliated, 
to his father. For the love intrigue they introduced a liaison 

14 The Third Symphony was first played in Paris on May 17, 1929. In the 
United States it was frequently performed by Leopold Stokowski. It has been 
given several times in the U.S.S.R. (Dranishnikov, Hauck, and the composer 
himself), meeting with the approval of the critics (see the article by A. Alsch- 
wang in Sovietskoye Iskusstvo, November 1935). There is a four-hand arrange- 
ment of the symphony by Miaskovsky (in manuscript). 



between the leading character and a certain Beautiful Maiden. 
The scene with the elder brother, which drives home the 
moral of the fable, they discarded altogether, adding instead 
the Prodigal's sisters, moving characters, and his wicked friends. 
The story ended, as in the Bible, with the repentance of the 
Prodigal Son and complete absolution for his sins. Diaghilev's 
choice of a Biblical theme was rather symptomatic. Disillu- 
sioned by the excesses of cubism and the emptiness of con- 
temporary art, many French artists as far back as the first half 
of the twenties had turned to ancient or Biblical themes, thus 
giving rise to a certain type of neo-classicism. After his sub- 
jectless cubistic designs Picasso went back to Ingres; Stravin- 
sky after Mavra and L'Histoire du soldat wrote CEdipus Rex 
and later the Symphonie de psaumes, blazing the trail to a sort 
of deliberate neo-Bachism. Tired of its own childishness and 
anti-aesthetic nihilism, art attempted to become rational, 
subtle, and intelligent. It sought to save itself in eternal 
themes, in the imitation of a classical style that had died out 
long since, from the complete ideological and artistic degen- 
eration to which superficial experimentation was inevitably 
leading. But the dead Latin revived by Stravinsky in his CEdi- 
pus Rex was even more of a sealed book to the living human 
listener than the blatant primitiveness of his make-believe 
world. Absence of ideas and principle, the worship of form for 
its own sake, continued to serve as the banner of French bour- 
geois art, notwithstanding the employment of more serious 
themes of universal human interest. 

It is difficult to imagine that Diaghilev's L'Enfant prodigue, 
exquisitely stylized by the artist Rouault, with the gay sinner 
executing all manner of dizzy battements, could seriously 
broach any philosophical problems. For as keen and vital an 
artist as Prokofiev, who had striven always to give his own in- 
dividual musical interpretation of his concrete observations of 
life, the parable as a theme could not have been much more 
than an abstraction. 

Nevertheless, the philosophical aspect of the subject, not- 



withstanding its remote Biblical setting, had a certain positive 
influence on his work. Unwilling to follow the lead of Stra- 
vinsky's museum-like neo-classicism, ,r ' Prokofiev was obliged 
to grope his way alone toward a new lyrical and melodic style. 
The ballet was written in Paris in the autumn of 1928, and the 
piano score was ready in three months. Diaghilev was as- 
tonished at the composer's speed. 

Bound neither by problems of style nor by decorative de- 
scription (unlike The Buffoon and he Pas d'acier, L'Enfant 
prodigue had no elements of local color) , the composer strove 
to bring out primarily the purely emotional aspect of the work. 
This gave rise to some extremely fine lyrical music: the theme 
of the parting between the parents and the Prodigal Son, the 
Beautiful Maiden's theme, and the theme of the Prodigal Son 
in the scene of his encounter with his friends. The composer's 
interest in a new melodic style, intimately lyrical and contem- 
plative, requiring neither the colorful harmony of opera nor 
the rich timbre of orchestral music, was evident in these 
themes. Complex' harmonic constructions and the search for 
entirely new modal and harmonic combinations ceased to at- 
tract Prokofiev; he frequently conducted his themes in unison 
or octave, rejecting harmonic support altogether. 16 The music 
was clear in tone, discords occurring only as a result of thin 
contrapuntal superimpositions or blots. There emerged a new 
orchestral palette, thin, economic, pencil-drawn, with the lone 
and delicate timbres of flutes, oboes, clarinets. After the heav- 
ily splashed color and fiery tones of the Scythian Suite and the 
stinging orchestra of The Buffoon, this palette seemed rather 
exaggeratedly ascetic. 

In the Beautiful Maiden a new Prokofiev character was 
evolved, that of the young Botticelli ethereal maiden endowed 

15 "For my own part I am not satisfied with his latest works, with all their 
Bachisms and false notes," Prokofiev said in an interview (Rabochi Teatr, 
February 22, 1927). 

16 Prokofiev had also had recourse to these methods previously in certain 
lyrical passages; for example, Fugitive Vision No. 11, and even more often in 
tense, dynamic themes (first and third parts of the Third Concerto). 



with a sad, exquisite grace. Her emotions are far more restrained 
and virginal than the passionate exaltation of Pauline in The 
Gambler or Renata in The Flaming Angel. She is undoubtedly 
the prototype of Juliet and perhaps also of Cinderella. In 
L'Enfant prodigue the composer relegated sound description 
to a secondary plane (the pure character scenes of the Prodigal 
Son's encounter with his comrades, the carousal and the rob- 
bery), abandoned sheer decorative landscape music altogether, 
and reduced to a minimum the elements of pure dancing (the 
only real dance number is the "Men's Dance" No. 4, perhaps 
the weakest item in the whole ballet) . 

At the same time the music of L'Enfant prodigue brought 
out the negative aspects of Prokofiev's new style: his deliberate 
rejection of logic, the incoherence of his different thematic 
formations, his arbitrariness, the incomprehensible harshness 
of some of his polyphonic passages, and his studied combina- 
tion of musical episodes, which are repeated without any at- 
tempt at development. 

The poetical qualities of L'Enfant prodigue, the sincere 
lyricism expressed in its pale, autumnal, yet delicate and hu- 
man images, were brought out subsequently with far greater 
force in the music of Romeo and Juliet (which, incidentally, 
also brought out its negative qualities, particularly a certain 
mechanical combining of thematic scenes) . 

In the summer of 1928, spent in a little village near Paris, 
Prokofiev composed two small piano pieces that he called 
Things in Themselves (Op. 45). This was his first reversion 
to his favorite sphere of piano music since the Fifth Sonata, 
written five years before. The new piano technique evolved in 
Paris, however, was far removed from that active, healthy, 
virile piano style which had distinguished his earlier works. The 
Things in Themselves was followed by a series of piano minia- 
tures similar in genre and style: two sonatinas, Op. 54, in E 
minor (1931) and G major (1932), three pieces, Op. 59 — 
Promenade (1934), Landscape (1933), nnc ^ Pastoral Sonatina 
(1934) — an d, finally, three pieces called Thoughts ( 1933— 



4). It was difficult to recognize the old Prokofiev in these 
pieces. The rhythmic elasticity and clarity of idea had disap- 
peared. Fervor of feeling and youthful vigor had given place to 
a cold, rational outlook. The old impulsiveness and use of 
rich tone color had given way to dull, bare outlines. The com- 
poser had even renounced his former predilection for the 
dance, song, and theatrical action. 

This was both new and strange. A musician whose art ap- 
peared to spring wholly from the stage and concrete theatrical 
depiction suddenly plunged into a realm of intellectual con- 
struction and rational speculation utterly foreign to his nature. 
The reasons for this sudden metamorphosis were not difficult 
to guess. In the first place, new French bourgeois art, with its 
emphasis on rationalism and its new puristic tendencies, could 
not but have affected him. Most important, however, was the 
fact that Prokofiev had lost his ties with the living sources of 
his art. Having neither the practical possibilities nor the fa- 
vorable external stimuli for the creation of music reflecting one 
or another aspect of reality, the composer was forced to draw 
upon his own personal abstract reflection. The result was ex- 
tremely paradoxical: Prokofiev, who in his youth had rebelled 
against ivory-tower aloofness and the contemplative introspec- 
tion of modernist piano music, himself finally revived the typi- 
cal parlor style, intended for a narrow circle of select con- 

True, the new Prokofiev piano pieces as well as the lyrical 
passages of L'Enfant prodigue did show evidences of a deter- 
mined attempt to write profound and earnest music. But that 
which the composer had conceived as an expression of a philo- 
sophic principle, as music of the mind ( Things in Themselves, 
Thoughts), might have been taken for the mere mechanical 
reflection of his thought-processes. 

The few years remaining before his final return to the 
U.S.S.R. saw the aggravation of the crisis in Prokofiev's work. 
He had more and more frequent recourse to his former compo- 



sitions, revising them or incorporating them into new works. 
In 1929 he completed a new version of his youthful Sin- 
fonietta, Op. 5, somewhat encumbered by new harmonic 
details, revealing a growing preference for smaller forms 
(added second and fourth movements), and renumbered 
as Op. 48. 

Out of the material for the ballet music written in 1925 for 
the Romanoff troupe, with the addition of two new numbers, 
emerged a four-part Divertissement for orchestra, Op. 43 (the 
first movement, "Moderato," and the third, "Dance," were 
written in 1925; the second movement, "Nocturne/' and the 
fourth, "Epilogue," in 1929). 

From the music of L'Enfant prodigue came three new 
works: the Symphonic Suite, Op. 46-A, the Fourth Symphony, 
Op. 47 (1930) , and a number of pianoforte transcriptions, Op. 
52 (six pieces written in 1931 include three fragments from 
L'Enfant prodigue, a transcription of one of Prokofiev's songs, 
Op. 35, the Andante from the String Quartet, Op. 50, and 
the Scherzo from the Sinfonietta) . 

On May 21, 1929 the premiere of L'Enfant prodigue was 
performed in Paris. It was given on the same program with 
Stravinsky's Renard. Both composers conducted their own 

The ballet was a success. Particularly impressive was the 
final episode, in which the repentant Prodigal Son crawled on 
his knees toward his father across the whole stage. Shortly 
afterward Diaghilev presented the ballet in Berlin and Lon- 
don. Press comment was favorable everywhere. This was Di- 
aghilev's last ballet, for in the summer of 1929 he died in 
Venice. One of the most important threads binding Prokofiev 
to the West had snapped. "The brilliant master of ceremonies 
of Russian art," as Alexandre Benois, the artist, had called 
him, ended his days as an emigre, having long since ceased to 
represent the progressive art of his day. 

In 1929 the Paris press commented on a few of Prokofiev's 
new symphonic compositions: the Third Symphony (May 



1929), the Sinfonietta and Divertissement (performed in De- 
cember 1929 at a Koussevitzky concert). 

In the autumn of 1929 Prokofiev made his second trip to 
Moscow, to discuss the production of Le Pas d'acier at the 
Grand Opera. He was unable to give any recitals on this trip 
owing to some trouble with his hands (his only appearance 
was to conduct a radio concert of his own music). His recep- 
tion this time was considerably cooler than in 1927. 

The year 1930 was marked by a grand tour of the United 
States, where Prokofiev gave twenty-four concerts with leading 
American orchestras. On this tour he received a number of 
orders: the Fourth Symphony was written for the Boston 
Symphony Orchestra, and the Quartet, Op. 50, for the Library 
of Congress in Washington. Hopes of producing The Flaming 
Angel in one of the American theaters were revived, but again 
nothing came of them. 

The relatively unproductive year 1929 was followed by three 
significant compositions in 1930: the Fourth Symphony, 17 the 
string quartet, and the ballet Sur le Borysthene. 

The most interesting of them was the Quartet in B minor, 
Op. 50, 18 which was somewhat unusual in form (three move- 
ments: an Allegro in sonata form, a Scherzo, and a slow lyri- 
cal finale). The music, like that of L'Enfant prodigue, is here 
predominantly deep, calm, and contemplative — for example, 
the subordinate theme in the first movement, the introduction 
to the Scherzo and, finally, the main part of the quartet, a 
soothing, sorrowful Andante with some passages almost frankly 
reminiscent of Mussorgsky. 

17 Written for the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Svmphonv Orchestra, 
it was played for the first time in Boston on November 14, 1930. It is the 
gentlest and most intimate of all Prokofiev's svmphonies. The first and fourth 
movements were new versions of L'Enfant prodigue themes: the rest was almost 
completely borrowed from the music of the ballet (second movement, return 
of the Prodigal Son; third movement, description of the Beautiful Maiden). 

13 The Library of Congress in Washington has been in the habit of order- 
ing new works from renowned modern composers to add to its manuscript de- 
partment. The quartet was first performed in Washington on April 25, 1931, 
at a special festival. 



tSKtssrJo WxtomSc 

^rrnn fi,£lJi g]£ 

12. Quartet, Opus 50, Andante. 

More typical of Prokofiev were the classical main theme of 
the first movement (anticipating the main theme of the Sec- 
ond Violin Concerto ) and the sparkling semi-dance theme of 
the Scherzo. The music is marred only by a few rather unusual 
and apparently unjustified polyphonic effects. 

The history of the advent of the ballet Sur le Borysthene, 
Op. 51, is striking evidence that Prokofiev's talent had reached 
a crisis in its development. The ballet had been ordered by the 
management of the Paris Opera in the summer of 1930. There 
was no definite subject, and, indeed, it was not easy to find a 
subject for an opera theater with no dominating artistic prin- 
ciples. It was decided to solve the problem simply: the com- 
poser wrote the music on the basis of a purely abstract plan 
providing for a succession of "intensifications," "lyrical mo- 
ments," and "upsurges." When and where the action was to 
take place, what characters were to be depicted — all these 
questions were to be shelved for the time being. All that ex- 
isted was the general framework of the piece, worked out in 
conjuction with the ballet-master: a "lyrical moment" here, a 
variation in fast tempo there, a pensive mood here, a passion- 
ate outburst of emotion there. When this abstract skeleton 
was filled with music, a more or less suitable story was to be 
woven around it. Could an artist as discerning and observant 
as Prokofiev possibly have departed farther from reality than 

The plot turned out to be extremely simple. A soldier falls 
in love with a peasant girl; this is demonstrated by tender love 
scenes and sentimental pas de deux. But the father wants the 



girl to marry someone else. The betrothal takes place and the 
rejected soldier turns up at the feast and fights the bridegroom. 
The fight is the dramatic culmination of the ballet. The soldier 
is seized and tied to a tree. In the end he is released by his 
sweetheart to the accompaniment of soft music. 

The fact that the action takes place sur le Borysthene (on 
the Dnieper) was decided upon at the last minute, evidently 
as a concession to the Russian artists Larionov and Goncha- 
rova, who were responsible for the settings. The very mention 
of the Dnieper was carefully disguised by the use of its ancient 
Greek name Borysthene. 19 And although Larionov did try to 
depict the beauty of the Ukrainian landscape in spring with 
the apple trees in bloom, there was essentially nothing Ukrain- 
ian about the performance. 

In the music of this ballet Prokofiev repeated the experi- 
ment of L'Enfant prodigue with its extremely abstract action 
beyond time and space. There was of course no question of in- 
troducing any Ukrainian color into the music. The lyrical 
images were much less human and warm than in L'Enfant 
prodigue, and the character episodes not nearly so poignant 
and dramatic. The fact that Prokofiev as composer and dram- 
atist had no real subject to work on could not but have af- 
fected the music. 

Sur le Borysthene was the last major work for the theater 
written by Prokofiev abroad. By this time the composer saw 
clearly that in western Europe of his day there was no room 
for development in musical drama. No one was interested in 
his operas. The Flaming Angel could find no producer, and to 
write new operas was useless when no one would produce 
them. In any case there were no subjects, no leading ideas left 
for operas. "It often seems that one subject is just as useless 
as another." 

Soon after the premiere of Sur le Borysthene and a new 

19 The ballet Sur le Borysthene (dedicated to the memory of Diaghilev) 
was presented by Serge Lifar on one program with two other short ballet novel- 
ties at the Paris Opera on December 16, 1932. It was not a success, and was 
soon taken out of the repertory. 



chamber piece — a sonata for two violins — Prokofiev left for 
his sixth concert tour of the United States. He played his 
Third and Fifth Piano Concertos with Frederick Stock, Bruno 
Walter, and other distinguished conductors. Some of his more 
complex works of the latter period puzzled the American pub- 
lic. After the performance of the Portraits, Prokofiev recalls, 
one American concert-goer, sitting in the box adjoining his, 
said loudly: "I'd like to meet that guy [the composer]. I'd tell 
him a thing or two!" "I hastily took my leave," Prokofiev says. 

The last of Prokofiev's foreign compositions were purely in- 
strumental: the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos, the Sonata 
for two violins, Op. 56, 20 Symphonic Song, Op. 57, and a Con- 
certo for the cello, Op. 58. 

The Fourth Piano Concerto (for the left hand) was written 
to order for the repertory of the one-armed pianist Paul Witt- 
genstein (1931 ). 21 The Fifth Concerto (1932), on the other 
hand, showed evidence of new experiments in the sphere of 
piano technique, resumed after a lapse of eleven years. The 
machine-like Toccata, in the athletic style of the earlier Pro- 
kofiev, presents his bold jumps, hand-crossing, and Scarlatti 
technique in highly exaggerated form. The tendency to wide 
skips a la Scarlatti is carried to monstrous extremes; sheer feats 
of piano acrobatics completely dominate the principal move- 
ments of the concerto (first and third movements, toccata; 
fifth movement, finale). In the precipitate Toccata this dy- 
namic quality degenerates into mere lifeless mechanical move- 
ment, with the result that the orchestra itself seems to be trans- 

20 The Sonata for two violins was composed in Paris in 1932 for the Triton, 
a society for popularizing modern chamber music, which was supported by a 
group of composers including Milhaud, Honcggcr, Poulenc. and Prokofiev him- 
self. The sonata was first performed at the inauguration of the society on De- 
cember 16, 1932, the same day as the premiere of Sur le Borysthene. 

21 The Austrian pianist Wittgenstein was extremely popular at that time 
in European musical circles; concertos for the left hand were written for him 
by Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel, and other composers. Prokofiev's extremely 
complex concerto displeased the pianist to such an extent that he refused to 
play it, and it was never performed. It consists of four movements, the first and 
fourth of which abound in virtuoso passages; the second movement is an 
Andante, and third an Allegro in sonata form. 



formed into a huge mechanism with fly-wheels, pistons, and 
transmission belts. 

The brittle, urbanistic style of this work is relieved by only 
a few oases of gentle lyricism — for example, in the subordi- 
nate theme of the first movement in the spirit of the lyrical 
themes of L'Enfant prodigue, in the gavotte-like theme of the 
second movement, later swamped by the floridity of the de- 
velopment in the form of variations, in the lilting "lullaby" 
theme of the fourth movement, and at the beginning of the 
finale. 22 

The foreign period in the work of Prokofiev ended rather 
aptly with the Symphonic Song, Cello Concerto, and Three 
Pieces, Op. 59. The first two of these compositions made no 
impression whatsoever on the Soviet audiences. 

How, then, can the so-called foreign period in Prokofiev's 
musical career be summed up in a nutshell. Although the for- 
eign period covers the years between 1918 and 1927, it made 
itself felt in his writings between 1924 and 1934, when the 
bourgeois Paris influences were still strong in him. This latter 
period was incidentally the least productive of his career. 

Even a superficial chronological review of this period 
evinces certain ominous signs. Instead of the thirty-four opus 
numbers produced between 1909 and 1919, the decade 1924- 
34 saw only twenty opus numbers, among them many dupli- 
cations, revisions, and rearrangements of old compositions. To 
this period belong a number of works made to order or written 
for chance occasions, and instrumental pieces devised from 
the material for all manner of music for the stage. 

Prokofiev did not write a single opera or vocal work in these 
ten years. His favorite sphere, music born of living human in- 
tonation, was neglected. His piano style acquired a rather do- 
mestic, introspective flavor, and even became somewhat pallid 
and anemic. The virtuoso compositions (Fifth Piano Con- 
certo) had lost their former realism and theatrical vividness 

22 The first performance of the Fifth Concerto was given on October 31, 
1932 in Berlin. 



and were reduced to a cold and sober neo-Scarlatti trend. 
While striving to avoid the influence of the bourgeois vogue, 
and sometimes even making a stand against it, Prokofiev was 
nevertheless tied down by the Paris artistic environment. This 
explains his vacillations between the constructivist excesses of 
the Second Symphony and the quintet, the machine-like natu- 
ralism of Le Pas d'acier and the purist rationality of UEnfant 
prodigue and the later piano pieces. 

At the same time certain compositions of the Paris period 
gave evidence of new and vital style features: namely, the dra- 
matic tensity of the Third Symphony, the original lyrical 
images in UEnfant prodigue, the search for Russian melody in 
the quartet, Le Pas d'acier, and some of the piano pieces (Pen- 
sees, Op. 62). This yearning for Russian melody was expressed 
both in Prokofiev's unconscious emulation of Mussorgsky and 
in his interest in folk-songs; Prokofiev first attempted to adapt 
Russian folklore to music in the two songs White SnowEakes 
and Guelder-Rose, published in Paris in 1931. 

Many years before, Karatygin and Igor Glebov had pre- 
dicted the growth of a lyrical trend in Prokofiev's music, which 
had not appeared too frequently in his earlier compositions. 
"It seems to me," wrote Glebov, "that Prokofiev, stormy and 
temperamental in his conception of external phenomena, is 
utterly transformed as soon as he ventures into the sphere of 
intimate feeling. I feel that he has not yet fully revealed him- 
self in this sphere, that he has great potentialities there" (Sov- 
remennaya Muzyka, No. 19, 1927, article "Eight Years"). 

And Glebov was right. For a long time Prokofiev had been 
persistently seeking an outlet for his pent-up, repressed lyri- 
cism. But the pointless art of bourgeois Paris had not been 
conducive to the realization of these tendencies. Hence the 
abstract and deliberate reticence of his lyricism in Things in 
Themselves and Thoughts. Most of his work belonging to the 
end of the twenties and the early thirties was actually no more 
than experimentation in a new lyrical style that took final 
shape after his return to the Soviet Union. The search for a 



new melodic style that began with the lyrical episodes in the 
Overture, Op-. 42, and continued in the lyricism of L'Enfant 
prodigue and the Quartet, Op. 50, brought Prokofiev at last 
to the melodic wealth of the Second Violin Concerto, Romeo 
and Juliet, and other compositions of the Soviet period. 

It remains to be added that the years spent abroad had in- 
itiated Prokofiev into all the secrets of the technique of mod- 
ern composition. He had learned from the bottom up all there 
was to know about contemporary music in the West. And 
what he had learned had convinced him that the professional 
mastery of the Western composers was pointless, without a 
future, and utterly devoid of content. The year 1933-4 mai "ked 
a sharp dividing line in Prokofiev's work. The crisis of the Paris 
period had ended with the Symphonic Song and the Cello 
Concerto, and the composer now launched upon a new path 
under new, Soviet conditions. 


Book III 

Soviet Artist 

O : New Views 

For four years I fought, and now I am 
home again. 

(Semyon Kotko) 


XT gives me great joy to be home again in the Soviet 
land," Prokofiev said to Moscow newspapermen in November 
1932 (Sovietskoye Iskusstvo, November 27, 1932). "Two 
things struck me about the U.S.S.R.," he wrote at that time, 
"the unparalleled creative activity among the Soviet compos- 
ers .. . and the colossal growth of general interest in music 
clearly evidenced by the huge new contingents of the public 
that now fill the concert halls" (Vechernaya Moskva, De- 
cember 8, 1932). 

Moscow in 1932-3 was, as it is today, one of the liveliest art 
centers of Europe. 

Prokofiev was swiftly drawn into the orbit of new artistic 
interests. He undertook to write music for the cinema and 
theater, planned to teach practical composition in the Moscow 
Conservatory, sought assiduously for new opera librettos, hop- 
ing under Soviet conditions to be able at last to see his ideas 
in the field of musical drama take shape. In numerous state- 
ments to the press he emphasized the sharp contrast between 



bourgeois opera, utterly devoid of purport, and the wealth of 
themes and subjects suggested by Soviet life. "The ordinary 
subject matter of the West now repels me," he said. "It strikes 
me as rather useless and is tinged with an indifference that 
might be called formalism. . . . One subject is as pointless as 
another — that is the inevitable impression one gets from the 
recent products of Western music. . . . When you come to 
the U.S.S.R. from abroad, you are instantly aware of an essen- 
tial difference: here music for the theater is really necessary 
and there is no doubt as to the subject matter: the subject 
must be heroic and constructive (creative), for these are the 
traits that best characterize the present epoch. I have a great 
desire to write an opera on Soviet themes. ... In my spare 
time between concerts I have been reading a large number of 
librettos with the greatest interest" (Sovietskaya Muzyka, No. 
3, 1933, "Notes" by S. Prokofiev). 

Prokofiev spent 1933 and 1934 taking stock of his surround- 
ings, gradually finding his own place in the Soviet scheme of 
things. During this time his world outlook became more 
clearly defined and purposeful. His credo during the period of 
his wanderings abroad had been innovation in general, the 
quest for new sounds and harmonies, the creation of an original 
music unlike anything known theretofore. He admitted as 
much in one of his American interviews: "The cardinal virtue 
(or, if you like, vice) of my life has always been the search for 
originality, for my own musical language. I hate imitation, I 
hate hackneyed methods. I do not want to wear anyone else's 
mask. I want always to be myself." 

But in this distaste for routine, this constant striving for 
something new, it was difficult to find any positive conviction 
that would determine the meaning and the purpose of his 
work. Such inordinate passion for novelty at all costs had been 
sharply ridiculed by Lenin in one of his conversations with 
Clara Zetkin: "Why should we turn away from the truly beau- 
tiful, why reject it as a point of departure for further develop- 
ment merely because it is old? Why is it necessary to worship 



the new as one might worship a god to whom we must submit 
merely because 'it is new'?" (Clara Zetkin: "Reminiscences 
and Meetings/' Moskovsky Rabochy, 1925). 

It was not until he returned to the Soviet Union that Proko- 
fiev began to strive consciously toward a goal worthy of a great 
artist: namely, to create for the people, for the broad masses 
of music-lovers who understand and appreciate real creative 

"In the Soviet Union music exists for the millions who for- 
merly had to live without it or who rarely came in contact with 
it. It is to these new millions that the modern Soviet composer 
must cater," wrote Prokofiev in an article published in Izvestia 
on November 16, 1934. True, in his theoretical utterances one 
could at times detect echoes of his former modernistic views 
on art, of a tendency to divide music into two categories: a 
higher category for the "connoisseurs" and a lower category 
for everyone else. As a matter of fact, this idea had been cur- 
rent at one time in musical criticism and had given rise to a 
corresponding classification of compositions. In his article 
Prokofiev speaks on the one hand of "great music," capable of 
"posing problems even to leading musicians," and on the 
other of "lightly serious" or "seriously light" music, compre- 
hensible to all. Appraising his own works of this period he 
places his Symphonic Song, Sur le Borysthene, and Third and 
Fourth Symphonies in the first category, and Lieutenant 
Kije, Egyptian Nights, and his popular songs in the second. 

This theoretical misconception took practical shape in his 
music, giving rise to a deliberately simplified style in some of 
his popular songs, which were clearly intended, according to 
his own classification, for the "second group" (especially most 
of the songs of Op. 79) . On the other hand, in the case of his 
best works (Romeo and Juliet and Alexander Nevsky suites, 
etc.) he refuted his own aesthetic standards by producing 
music that appealed equally to connoisseurs and to the general 

Three years later Prokofiev gave a much deeper and more 



correct analysis of the tasks facing the Soviet composer in an 
article published in Pravda. Real innovation in art, he pointed 
out, could not be based on any attempt to meet the "low" 
tastes of the average audience half-way, but, on the contrary, 
must take its stand on the constant development of the Soviet 
public. "Music in our country has truly come to belong to the 
wide masses. Their artistic taste, the demands they place upon 
art, are growing with incredible speed. And, bearing this in 
mind, the composer must make the corresponding 'amend- 
ments' to every new work he produces. It is something like 
shooting at moving targets. Only by aiming ahead at tomorrow 
will he avoid lagging behind today's requirements. That is why 
I feel that every attempt at simplification on the part of a com- 
poser is a mistake" (Pravda, December 31, 1937). 

"What is real, what is good?" Prokofiev asks in another 
article. "Not vulgar tunes that are pleasing at first but soon 
become incredibly boring, but music with its roots in the clas- 
sics and in folk-songs" (the magazine Pioneer, No. 7, 1939). 

In accordance with his new aims and principles, his choice 
of subject matter changed. Under Soviet conditions there is 
no need for the artist to obscure his ideas with the hazy am- 
biguity of "things in themselves," comprehensible only to 
himself and a select circle of the initiated. Under Soviet con- 
ditions it would be similarly unnatural for an artist to indulge 
in sheer grotesque, distortion, or caricature of reality. "What 
subject do I seek?" the composer asked himself. "Not a carica- 
ture of shortcomings ridiculing the negative features of our 
life. At the present moment this does not attract me. What in- 
terests me is a subject asserting a positive principle. The hero- 
ics of construction. The new man. The struggle to overcome 
obstacles. These are the moods and emotions with which 
I should like to fill large musical canvases" (Vechernaya 
Moskva, December 6, 1932) . Prokofiev's new declarations were 
not mere words. Once he had planted his feet firmly on the 
ground and felt himself a participant in the great community 
of Soviet intellectuals building a new culture, the composer 



began to work with redoubled energy. His music beginning 
with 1934-5 * s amazing for its intensity and for the significance 
of its creative ideas. 

On the face of it this period in his career was uneventful. 
Long journeys and concert tours were few and far between. 
The composer was utterly immersed in his composing. Even 
his favorite medium, the piano, was unfortunately neglected. 1 

Composition possessed him to the exclusion of everything 
else. When G. G. Neuhaus, on behalf of many admirers of 
Prokofiev's pianoforte performance, advised him to arrange a 
recital, he replied: "I can't do it. It would cost me half a 

The sole diversions from his creative work were his social 
activity in the Moscow Union of Composers, of which he was 
a member of the board and chairman of the Consulting Com- 
mittee, or an occasional game of chess, a favorite pastime 
from childhood. 

y : Composition 

|ET us make a brief survey of the highlights of Pro- 
kofiev's work in recent years. 

The first of his Soviet works, written in 1933, was the music 
for the film Lieutenant Kije after the story by Y. Tynyanov 
(Leningrad Belgoskino Studios, director A. Feinzimmer). 
This was in the nature of a trial of the pen under the new 
Soviet conditions. For the first time after wandering so long 
in a maze of subjectless music the composer was at last able to 
tackle a concrete problem: to provide the musical settings of 
old St. Petersburg under the reign of Paul, with its parades, its 

1 Incidentally, his later solo performances, particularly his performance of 
the First Piano Concerto in February 1941, again astounded his hearers by the 
inexhaustible power and energy of his gifts as a pianist. 



military ceremonies after the Prussian pattern, and its dashing 
Hussars. The anecdote about the lieutenant who existed on 
paper only because of a mistake made by the secretary, offered 
rich possibilities for grotesque effects. But Prokofiev resisted 
the temptation and gave instead an almost realistic reproduc- 
tion of the epoch, complete with the Russian snows, the dull 
parade-ground ceremonies, the sentimental ditty with a faint 
flavor of parody to it, and the tinkling sleighbells. His St. 
Petersburg was closer to the stylized, gently ironic engravings 
of Dobuzhinsky than to the cynical caricatures in Stravinsky's 
Mavra or Shostakovich's The Nose. A year later, in 1934, ^ T0 ~ 
kofiev revised the orchestration and made a symphonic suite 
(Op. 60) out of this music. 

The music for Egyptian Nights, staged by A. Tairov in the 
Moscow Kamerny Theater (1933), was written almost simul- 
taneously with Lieutenant Kije. Carried away by the image of 
Cleopatra, Tairov attempted to combine three texts written 
in three distinct styles: Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare, 
Egyptian Nights by Pushkin, and Csesar and Cleopatra by 
Bernard Shaw. The result was artificial and cumbersome. Yet 
for Prokofiev this, his first encounter with Shakespeare's great 
passions and strong, cruel heroes, was most fruitful indeed. 
The music for Egyptian Nights provides settings masterfully 
executed in rich, somber tones — tense, thrilling night alarms, 
echoes of fierce battles, the austere grandeur and majesty of 
the ancient world. Against the subtly conveyed historical back- 
ground the contours of powerful human characters take shape 
in the themes of Antony and Cleopatra. The best episode in 
the symphonic suite made in 1934 from the music of Egyptian 
Nights is, in the composer's own estimation, No. 6, "Eclipse 
of Cleopatra"; No. 3, "Alarm," written for percussion instru- 
ments alone (bass and side drum plus kettle-drums), is also 
particularly interesting. 

Prokofiev spent part of 1933 abroad, where he wrote his 
Symphonic Song, several piano pieces, sketches for a cello con- 
certo, and a symphonic suite from the ballet Sur le Borysthene. 



All this was in the nature of a summing-up of the Paris period 
of his work. The three-movement Symphonic Song was con- 
ceived by the composer as a complex lyrical and philosophical 
work representing three successive states: obscurity, struggle, 
and achievement. But the exposition proved to be so confusing 
that even Koussevitzky, who had invariably upheld all of Pro- 
kofiev's most Left compositions, was at a loss. 

The premiere of the Symphonic Song in Moscow, on April 
14, 1934, failed to arouse the interest of the public. Soviet- 
skaya Muzyka (No. 6, 1934) criticized it severely. The Sym- 
phonic Song, said this magazine, "has no cantabile quality; 
it is not a song at all in our sense of the word. We regard it as 
a symphonic monologue for the few, as the sad tale of the 
eclipse of the fading culture of individualism." The gist of the 
article was that any continuation of the tendencies evinced in 
the Symphonic Song would be quite unsuitable under Soviet 

Prokofiev spent a large part of 1934 m tne U.S.S.R., put- 
ting the finishing touches to suites adapted from the music of 
Lieutenant Kije and Egyptian Nights, trying his hand at mass 
songs, and interchanging ideas with Soviet musicians. He spent 
the summer in Polenovo, where the artist P. Konchalovsky 
painted his portrait. At the end of the year he conceived the 
idea for a new major work; together with the producer S. Rad- 
lov he outlined the plan for a ballet on the theme of Romeo 
and Juliet. 

In the meantime Prokofiev's standing was high in the West. 
In 1934 the Academy of Music in Rome elected him to honor- 
ary membership. A group of French musicians asked him to 
write a new major violin piece for the famous violinist Robert 
Soctens, giving Soetens exclusive rights in the piece through- 
out the first year. First conceived as a sonata for violin and or- 
chestra, this work finally assumed the dimensions of a grandi- 
ose composition — the Second Violin Concerto (Op. 63). It 
was composed in the first half of 1935, in the intervals between 
numerous concert appearances. One part was written in Paris, 



another in Voronezh, a third in Baku, and so on. The score 
was completed in Baku on August 16, 1935. That same sum- 
mer Prokofiev concentrated on his new ballet, Romeo and 
Juliet, which, apart from a few additional sections, was ready 
early in September 1935. 

In Polenovo, where he spent the summer of 1935, the com- 
poser wrote a number of simple pieces for childern, with typi- 
cal program titles (Morning, The Walk, Fairy-tale, Repent- 
ance, Grasshoppers' Parade, Rain and Rainbow). As he himself 
admits, his former predilection for the sonatina had reawak- 
ened in him. The last of these pieces, The Moon Goes over the 
Meadows, executed in the style of a Russian folk-song, was 
inspired by the scenery at Polenovo. To the imposing list of 
compositions produced in 1935 were added a few popular 
songs to texts by Soviet poets — Partisan, My Country is Grow- 
ing, Anyutka, and others. Anyutka won second prize at a con- 
test of mass songs arranged by Pray da (no first prize was 
awarded). Prokofiev's first six mass songs, collected as Op. 66, 
marked the beginning of a long series of compositions on So- 
viet themes. Thus by the end of the third year of his work in the 
Soviet Union there were already definite signs of a consider- 
able change in Prokofiev's output in the direction of serious 
themes replete with ideas and a new simplicity and clarity of 

Early in October 1935 the composer gave a public perform- 
ance of the music of Romeo and Juliet at Moscow. Comment- 
ing on the concert, Izvestia spoke with undisguised approval 
of Prokofiev's new "realistic language" (Izvestia, October 6, 
1935). A controversy at once arose in connection with the du- 
bious attempt to tack a happy ending on to the Shakespearean 
plot; in the original version, Juliet was to be resurrected, and 
the ballet was to have ended with a joyous dance of the lovers. 
Most of the critics, however, opposed making any such mod- 
ernization of Shakespeare for the sake of the old ballet tradi- 
tions, and the original plot was finally restored. 

During the winter of 1935-6 Prokofiev accompanied Rob- 



ert Soetens on a long concert tour that included Spain, Portu- 
gal, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunis. The new violin concerto 
had its premiere in Madrid on December 1, 1935. 1 In their 
joint appearance Prokofiev and Soetens played chamber pieces 
by Beethoven and Debussy. A year later the Second Violin 
Concerto was played in Moscow by Fischmann, and in 1937 
became part of the repertory of the famous American violinist 
Jascha Heifetz. 

In April a new symphonic composition came into being — 
Peter and the Wolf, a symphonic fairy-tale for children. Pro- 
kofiev himself wrote the story of the brave Pioneer Peter, who 
cleverly outwitted the wicked Wolf. The music and the spoken 
text are given simultaneously in the form of a musical mono- 
logue. This was an entirely new departure for Prokofiev, his 
first attempt to write an orchestral piece for children, giving 
in attractive form an object lesson in instrumentation. "Every 
character in this story," wrote the author in his introduction 
to Peter and the Wolf, "is represented by a corresponding in- 
strument in the orchestra: the flute is the Bird, the oboe the 


M > 


(yl * L-J L~f^=f= 

1 1 1 _^ \ — p f — 

kMI1 * ii Jinn ml 

< / ]"ii I a i^ i 

J 4. i i J.-* * i 

U r 4 r- 1 

1 3. Peter and the Wolf, theme of Peter the Pioneer. 

1 In a concert conducted by Enrique Fernandez Arbos. — Editor. 



Duck, the clarinet played staccato in the low register is the 
Cat, the bassoon is Grandpa, three French horns are the Wolf, 
the string quartet is Peter, and the kettle-drums and bass 
drum are the hunters' rifle-shots. Before the performance it is 
advisable to show these instruments to the children and to 
play the leitmotivs on each instruments. In this way the chil- 
dren will be able without the slightest effort to recognize the 
diverse orchestral instruments in the course of the perform- 

Thus, twenty-two years after The Ugly Duckling, Prokofiev 
once again created a gallery of clever and amusing animal por- 
traits as vividly depicted as though painted from nature by an 
animal artist. The carefree twittering of the Bird, the languor- 
ous purring of the Cat, the blood-curdling howls of the Wolf, 
the quacking of the Duck as it waddles lazily along, are all 
presented with the gentle tolerant humor of a story-teller who 
understands the musical tastes and requirements of children. 

The piece has since been performed many times in Moscow 
and in the larger cities of the United States for adult audiences 
as well as for children. The American public was particularly 
enthusiastic. In Chicago, Peter and the Wolf was presented on 
the stage as a ballet (by Adolph Bolm). The text of the story 
was published in a special de luxe edition. The critics com- 
pared Prokofiev's gift for depiction with that of Walt Disney. 2 

Prokofiev's interest in themes for children induced him to 
write three more small songs to words by Soviet poets: Chat- 
terbox (Barto), Sweet Melody (Sakonskaya), and Little Pigs 
(Mikhalkov). These songs were collected as Op. 68. 

The Soviet art world in 1936 was preparing for two impor- 
tant jubilees: the twentieth anniversary of the October Revo- 
lution and the centenary of the death of Pushkin. Both these 
occasions were reflected in Prokofiev's music. At the end of 
1935 he conceived the idea of writing a large piece for orches- 

2 The piano score of Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67, was published by the 
State Music Publishing House in 1937; the orchestral score appeared in 1940. 
The piece was first performed by the Moscow Philharmonic in May 1936. 


tra and chorus to depict the history of the October Revolution. 
In the course of 1936 and the early part of 1937 tms idea gradu- 
ally took shape. The composer's plan was an ambitious one. 
He proposed to write music for chorus and orchestra to the 
actual words of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. "Lenin wrote in 
such graphic and convincing language that I did not want to 
resort to any versified exposition of his ideas/' declared the 
composer. "I wanted to go right to the source and use the ac- 
tual words of the leader" (Vechernaya Moskva, June 22, 1936) . 

The cantata written for the twentieth anniversary of the 
October Revolution, and completed in 1937, consists of ten 

Part One: orchestral introduction (the epigraph to this is 
the phrase from the Communist Manifesto: "A specter is 
haunting Europe — the specter of Communism"); 

Part Two: Philosophers (chorus to the text taken from 
Marx's theses on Ludwig Feuerbach: "The philosophers have 
interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is 
to change it"); 

Part Three: orchestral interlude; 

Part Four: "We are marching in a compact group along a 
precipitous and difficult path" (chorus to Lenin's words from 
What is to be Done?); 

Part Five: orchestral interlude; 

Part Six: Revolution (chorus to texts from articles and 
speeches by Lenin, October 1917); 

Part Seven: Victory, orchestra and chorus (to texts from 

Part Eight: Stalin's Pledge (chorus to text taken from Sta- 
lin's speech at the bier of Lenin ) ; 

Part Nine: Symphony, for symphony orchestra and accor- 
dion orchestra (theme, Socialist construction); 

Part Ten: The Stalin Constitution (chorus to text taken 
from Stalin's speech at the Eighth Extraordinary Congress 
of Soviets). 

The cantata was intended for a huge number of performers, 



no less than five hundred people: two choruses, professional 
and amateur, and four orchestras, symphony, brass, percussion, 
and accordion. 

The grandeur and novelty of the artistic problem posed by 
the composer are indisputable. Moreover, the salutary effect 
on the composer of this, his first attempt at a subject of such 
vast political significance, cannot be overestimated. Neverthe- 
less, the cantata, Op. 74, will remain interesting merely as an 
experiment in the development of Prokofiev's art. Brilliant as 
the utterances of the great leaders of the Revolution undoubt- 
edly were, they were never intended to be sung in the form of 
choral recitative, and when transferred to the metier of choral 
singing, they not only encumber the melodic idiom itself, but 
lose much of their oratorical power. The most impressive parts 
of the cantata were, naturally enough, the symphonic inter- 
ludes in which the idea of Revolution is not merely introduced 
into the music through the text, but translated into the specific 
language of musical images. And even here the most convinc- 
ing are not those episodes in which the composer chose to de- 
pict the external tumult of upheaval, but the few images giving 
the inner feeling of joy in the victory of the Revolution: the 
radiant and confident calm of Part Seven. However, the can- 
tata has never been performed, and to pass any final judgment 
on its musical qualities now would be premature. 

Pushkin themes were tackled by Prokofiev in a similarly 
bold and sweeping manner. For thirty years, since his youthful 
experiment with the Feast during the Plague, he had not at- 
tempted to set Pushkin's poetry to music. In modernist cir- 
cles — especially in the West — Pushkin themes would have 
been regarded as an intolerable anachronism, and if Stravin- 
sky did use Pushkin for his Mavra, he tried his best to make a 
comic caricature out of it. With his Pushkin songs (1936) 
Prokofiev returned to vocal lyrics, a sphere he had neglected 
for fifteen years. Of the three songs, Op. 73, to Pushkin texts 
(Pine Trees, Roseate Dawn, In Your Chamber), the first, 
written in serene narrative tones, is the best. The text of this 



song has an autobiographical value for the composer, who 
sees in it a calm statement of his joy at returning to his home- 

Ten years have passed since then — and much 

Has changed in life for me, 

I, too, obedient to life's laws, 

Have altered — but here again 

The past enfolds me in its arms 

And lo, it seems but yesterday 

I roamed these woods. . . . 

The verse ends with praise of the "young glade" that had 
sprung up in the poet's absence, and a joyous welcome to the 
"new, young, unknown tribe." 

In the second half of 1936 Prokofiev worked simultaneously 
on three major Pushkin themes: his music to the poem Yev- 
geny Onyegin (libretto by S. D. Krzhyzhanovsky for the 
Kamerny Theater), for the film The Queen of Spades (Mos- 
cow Film Studios, director M. Romm ) , and for the play Boris 
Godunov. Thus Prokofiev entered into competition with the 
great classics Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky. 

The greatest difficulties, on the composer's own admission, 
were presented by Yevgeny Onyegin, and sprang from the tre- 
mendous popularity of Tchaikovsky's music for the opera of 
that name. "The play Yevgeny Onyegin in Krzhyzhanovsky's 
version stressed precisely those aspects of Pushkin's poem that 
had been omitted from Tchaikovsky's opera," wrote Prokofiev. 
"I believe it would be extraordinarily interesting to see Lensky 
arguing heatedly over a bottle of wine with Onyegin, or Tat- 
yana visiting the latter's empty house, or Onyegin on the banks 
of the Neva. ... It is my intention," he maintained, "to 
keep as close as possible to the original text" (Vechernaya 
Moskva, June 22, 1936). 

In the music of Yevgeny Onyegin Prokofiev concentrated on 
the characterization of the principal dramatis personam a few 
themes for Onyegin, three leitmotivs for Tatyana, developing 
with the growth of her passion. The ball scene at the Larin 



home (waltz, polka for two pianos, etc.) and the music de- 
picting the serene rural atmosphere at the Larin estate were 
executed with Prokofiev's customary subtlety of stylization. 

Prokofiev found much to interest him also in The Queen of 
Spades, the tragic high-strung character of Hermann having 
a particular appeal for him. 

Unfortunately, not one of the three Pushkin works was ever 
produced. Including all three of them in the list of his compo- 
sitions (The Queen of Spades and Boris Godunov under Op. 
70, and Yevgeny Onyegin under Op. 71), Prokofiev subse- 
quently used several themes from them for instrumental works. 

To the long list of works written in 1936 must be added two 
symphonic suites adapted from Romeo and Juliet and a new 
large symphonic piece, Russian Overture, Op. 72, written for 
the Moscow Philharmonic (first performed on October 29). 
Moreover, four marches for brass band were composed in 
1936 and 1937. 

The two symphonic suites from Romeo and Juliet included 
the essential parts of the ballet. 3 The first suite, first played 
by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra on June 24, 1936, was 
unanimously hailed by Soviet critics as a sign of a fundamental 
change in Prokofiev's work, of a definite transition to a new 
realistic style. In 1937 the music of Romeo and Juliet was used 
for a cycle of piano pieces, Op. 75, written without any of 
Prokofiev's former frills and furbelows. Notwithstanding the 
almost ascetic simplicity of the exposition, very similar to a 
piano arrangement of an orchestral score, the pieces were 
quickly taken up by Soviet pianists and included in their con- 
cert repertories. 

Long before the premiere of the ballet itself the music of 

3 The First Suite, Op. 64- A, consists of seven parts: (1) "Folk Dance," 

(2) "Scene," (3) "Madrigal," (4) "Minuet," (5) "Masques," (6) "Romeo 
and Juliet," and (7) "The Death of Tybalt." The Second Suite, Op. 64-B, also 
has seven items: (1) "The Montagues and Capulets," (2) "Juliet as a Child." 

(3) "Friar Laurence," (4) "Dance," (5) "Romeo and Juliet before Parting," 
(6) "Dance of the Young Antillean Girls," and (7) "Romeo at Juliet's Tomb." 



Romeo and Juliet won the sympathy of the Soviet performer 
and concert-goer. It was similarly successful abroad. 

Early in 1937 Prokofiev undertook a long concert tour 
through Europe and the United States. His creative work dur- 
ing that year included the completion of the cantata, Op. 74, 
the piano cycle Romeo and Juliet, and a series of songs for 
chorus and orchestra entitled Songs of Our Days. "In the 
music written in this productive year/' the composer wrote at 
the end of 1937 in Pravda, "I have striven for clarity and melo- 
dious idiom, but at the same time I have by no means 
attempted to restrict myself to the accepted methods of har- 
mony and melody. This is precisely what makes lucid, straight- 
forward music so difficult to compose — the clarity must be 
new, not old." 

In Songs of Out Days Prokofiev turned again to Soviet 
themes that he had embraced for the first time in the songs, 
Op. 66, using, besides the verses of Marshak, Lebedev-Kumach, 
and Prishelets, a number of poetic folk texts (Russian, Ukrain- 
ian, Byelo-Russian) . 4 In these songs Prokofiev strove to express 
all the multiform phenomena of our life: the new life on the 
collective farms, the heroism of the Soviet border guards, the 
enthusiasm of the young girls who went to the Far East to take 
part in the new construction there, the daring of a Young Com- 
munist who saved children from a fire. The author's sincere 
desire to achieve a new simplicity and comprehensibility was 
unfortunately not always combined with a clear, vivid percep- 
tion of the images he attempted to reproduce. Only when he 
clearly felt the drama of a situation, the passion and intensity 
of his poetic material, did he produce vivid and truthful images 
in the ballad genre. Such, for example, is the lovely song 
Brother for Brother, about the heroic border guard who took 
the place of his brother killed at his post. 

* The Songs of Our Days suite consists of nine parts: Orchestral introduc- 
tion (a march), "Over the Bridge," "Be Well," "Golden Ukraine," "Brother 
for Brother," "Girls," "The Twentv-Year-Old," "Lullaby," "From End to 



In the early part of 1938 Prokofiev made another long tour 
abroad, visiting Czechoslovakia, France, Britain, and the 
United States. While in Los Angeles, he visited Hollywood 
and made a detailed study of the technical methods used for 
the musical backgrounds of American sound films. America 
welcomed Prokofiev as an old friend and gave him a most cor- 
dial reception. In the United States the composer found a seri- 
ous interest in his work. He was pleasantly surprised to dis- 
cover that two student societies named after him had been 
formed for the express purpose of studying and popularizing 
his music, one at Hanover, New Hampshire, the other at 
Wheaton, Illinois. 

Following his American trip, Prokofiev collaborated with 
Sergei Eisenstein, the film-producer, and Eduard Tisse, the 
cameraman, on the historical film Alexander Nevsky. His 
association with Eisenstein, one of the outstanding represent- 
atives of Soviet art, was a source of great satisfaction to Pro- 
kofiev. He made many interesting sound experiments, using 
some of the methods employed in Hollywood. In turn, Eisen- 
stein and Tisse treated the ideas of their collaborator with the 
greatest respect and regarded him as a co-producer of the film 
(Tisse wrote about this in one of his articles in the newspaper 
Kino). Indeed, Alexander Nevsky proved to be one of the few 
Soviet films in which the music not only illustrates, but leads 
the action. 

In the same year (1938) the composer completed the score 
of his Cello Concerto, Op. 58, which had existed in rough 
draft since 1933, and composed music for a production of 
Hamlet. It was in writing the music for Hamlet that the ex- 
quisite gavotte, in actual fact the fourth of Prokofiev's gavottes, 
came into being. The Cello Concerto, performed in November 
1938 during the second Festival of Soviet Music (solo by Bere- 
zovsky), made no particular impression on the public, but was 
the cause of a heated controversy between the newspaper So- 
vietskoye Iskusstvo, which had praised it even before its pub- 
lic performance, and the magazine Sovietskaya Muzyka. Later 



the composer made some changes in the score on the basis of 
some of the critical comments. In 1940 the concerto was per- 
formed in the United States by the well-known cellist Gregor 

The failure of the Cello Concerto and Songs of Our Days 
at the musical festival in 1938 was partly compensated for by 
the enthusiastic reception accorded at the same time to the 
Second Piano Concerto, interpreted by the excellent pianist 
M. V. Yudina. 

The year 1939 was extremely productive for Prokofiev. It 
saw the completion of the Alexander Nevsky cantata, the opera 
Semyon Kotko, the cantata Zdravitsa, written for Stalin's six- 
tieth birthday (December 21, 1939), a number of popular 
songs for various contests, sketches for a violin sonata, Op. 80, 
and the project for three new piano sonatas — the Sixth, Op. 
82, the Seventh, Op. 83, and the Eighth, Op. 84. In April 1939 
the Alexander Nevsky cantata, a revised and reorchestrated 
version of the film music, was first performed by the Moscow 
Philharmonic Orchestra. Repeated in November of the same 
year during the third Soviet music festival, the cantata was 
given an enthusiastic reception by both the public and the 

Similarly successful was the cantata Zdravitsa, performed 
by the chorus and orchestra of the All-Union Radio Commit- 
tee in December 1939. The text of the cantata was a successful 
combination by the composer himself of seven folk-songs to 
Stalin by various Soviet nationalities (Russian, Ukrainian, 
Byelo-Russian, Mordovian, Mari, Kurd, and Kumykian). Rus- 
sian folk-melody predominates in this music, which is written 
in an extremely clear melodic idiom, colored by Prokofiev's 
own individual style. 

In 1939 the ballet Romeo and Juliet found a producer in the 
Soviet Union. 5 The best ballet troupe in the country, that of 
the Kirov Theater in Leningrad, undertook its production with 

6 The first production of this ballet had been staged in Brno, Czechoslo- 
vakia, in 1938. 



great enthusiasm. The premiere of the ballet, on January n, 
1940, took the form of a festival of the Soviet ballet. Glowing 
tribute was paid to the work of the ballet-master, L. Lavrovsky, 
the artist P. Williams, and the exceptionally talented per- 
formance of Galina Ulanova in the role of Juliet. The perform- 
ance was also a tremendous success in Moscow during the visit 
of Leningrad theaters to the Soviet capital in May 1940. 

In February 1940 a new sonata, the Sixth, was completed, 
and it was played shortly afterward by the composer himself in 
a radio recital. Later a brilliant rendering of this sonata was 
given by the young Moscow pianist Svyatoslav Richter. 

Throughout the 1939-40 season Prokofiev took an active 
part in the preparations for the production of Semyon Kotko 
in the Moscow Stanislavsky Theater. 6 The premiere of the 
new opera was given at the end of June 1940 (producer S. Bir- 
man, conductor M. Zhukov). Not one of Prokofiev's compo- 
sitions in the latter period had given rise to so many conflict- 
ing opinions in musical circles as this opera. Some considered 
it one of the first full-fledged Soviet operas, others actually 
found traces of formalism in it. The Semyon Kotko contro- 
versy (see Sovietskaya Muzyka, Nos. 9, 10, 11, and 13, 1940) 
shifted in December 1940 to the platform of the All-Union 
Opera Conference, where the opera was severely criticized by 
some of the delegates. By this time Prokofiev had written an- 
other opera, Betrothal in a Convent, after Sheridan's Duenna. 
This lyrical comic opera, of which Prokofiev wrote the libretto 
himself, was completed in the summer of 1940 and was in- 
tended for the Moscow Stanislavsky Opera Theater. It was 
soon orchestrated and ready for production. Several dress re- 
hearsals in June 1941 won it not a few enthusiastic admirers 
among Moscow's musicians. Because of the outbreak of the 
war, however, the Moscow public was prevented from see- 
ing it. 

6 The opera was first called I, Son of the Working People, after the novel 
"by Valentin Katayev about the struggle of the Ukrainian guerrillas against the 
German invaders in 1918. 



On the eve of the war the composer was engaged on his sym- 
phonic suite from the music of Semyon Kotko and a new ballet, 
Cinderella, to a libretto by N. Volkov, for the Kirov Thea- 
ter in Leningrad. Prokofiev collaborated with Vakhtang Che- 
bukiani, the eminent Leningrad ballet-master and dancer, in 
working out the details of the ballet. "Although every nation 
has its Cinderella," wrote Prokofiev, "I wanted to treat it as a 
real Russian fairy-tale. Moreover, I see Cinderella herself not 
only as a fairy-tale character, but as a living human be- 
ing "< 

Add to this the voluminous Autobiography, written with 
genuine literary brilliance in the early part of 1941 at the re- 
quest of Sovietskaya Muzyka, and this brief summary of his 
activities between 1933 and June 1941 will be exhausted. 

June 22, 1941, when the Nazis launched their sudden and 
treacherous assault on the U.S.S.R., was a turning-point in the 
lives of all Soviet people. Prokofiev was living at the time 
in Kratovo, a suburb of Moscow, where he was working on 
Cinderella. In the early days of the war he could frequently 
be met, excited and agitated, in the halls of the Moscow Union 
of Composers, at the State Music Publishing House, or at the 
Committee on Arts. With all other Soviet artists, Prokofiev 
was anxious to give unstintingly of his efforts and talent to his 

In July 1941 he wrote his Symphonic March, Op. 88, and 
the March in A flat, Op. 89, intended for a brass band. Some- 
what later he wrote a number of popular songs to anti-fascist 
and war verses by Soviet poets. 8 But his most important task 
during this period was the creation of a large historical opera 
on the theme of Tolstoy's great novel War and Peace. In July 
1941 Prokofiev worked out the scenario and libretto for this 
heroic opera depicting Russia in 1812 and the self-sacrificing 

7 From a letter to me dated July 18, 1942. A brief excerpt from Cinderella 
(introduction to Act I) was published as a musical supplement to the maga- 
zine Sovietskaya Muzyka, No. 4, 1941. 

8 Admiral Trash (Mayakovsky), Song of the Brave (Surkov), Tankist's 
Pledge, Son of Kabarda, Soldier's Sweetheart, Fritz, Your Country Needs You. 



Struggle of the Russians against the Napoleonic invasion. 
There are eleven scenes in the opera. The first six scenes are 
devoted almost exclusively to the emotions of Natasha Ros- 
tova and her relations with Andrei Bolkonsky and Pierre Bezu- 
khov. The pure, tender, maiden-like lyricism is interwoven 
with musical pictures of the life of the old Russian nobility: 
the whole of Scene iii, for instance — a ball in the house of 
Helene Bezukhova — is permeated with old-style Russian 
waltz rhythms. At the end of the sixth scene there is a sharp 
break in the action when the news comes that Napoleon's 
troops have approached the Russian border. Then the lyrical 
drama is transposed to the plane of broad historical narrative. 
The Russian people in the struggle and historical figures like 
Field Marshal Kutuzov and Napoleon are now in the fore- 
ground. Much space is given to monumental choruses of Rus- 
sian soldiers and portrayal of individuals from among the 
common people, such as Platon Karatayev, the soldier, Vasi- 
lissa, the woman guerrilla, and a village elder. The dramatic 
culmination of the opera comes in Scene ix, where the fire of 
Moscow and the fury of the people at the foreign invaders are 
shown. The tense scene of the battle that ends with the victory 
of the Russians over the French is given in the music of the 
eleventh and final scene. The personal experiences of the heroes 
of Tolstoy's novel — the wounding and death of Andrei, the 
despair of Natasha, the arrest and release of Pierre — are woven 
into the opera in the form of a subordinate plot. The opera 
ends with the triumphant entry of Kutuzov into Moscow and 
the popular rejoicing at the victory. 

Air raids, which began in Moscow at the end of July, com- 
pelled the Soviet Government to evacuate a number of the 
leading members of the world of art and science to the rear. 
With Miaskovsky, Shaporin, Nemirovich-Danchenko, Kacha- 
lov, and others, Prokofiev went to the Caucasus. In Nalchik, 
center of the Kabardino-Balkarian Autonomous Republic, situ- 
ated at the foot of Mount Elbruz, a handsomely equipped 
sanatorium was placed at their disposal. Prokofiev resumed his 



creative work with his former zeal. He at once took a great in- 
terest in the unusually fresh, piquant, and little explored musi- 
cal folklore of Kabardino-Balkaria. Kabardinian and Balkarian 
songs inspired his Second String Quartet, which was written 
on the basis of this local national music. 

The composer defined his purpose in this connection as the 
"combination of one of the least-known varieties of folk-song 
with the most classical form of the quartet." Rejecting all the 
classical traditions of Russian Oriental music, Prokofiev com- 
bined the Caucasian folk-melodies with his own individual 
harmonic and polyphonic style. The result was a unique com- 
position giving a sharply individual and fresh, if perhaps dis- 
putable, interpretation of the Caucasian scene. In the harsh 
harmonies of the first movement we feel the stern, warlike, 
vengeful Caucasus. The poetry of the Caucasian love-songs is 
subtly reproduced in the slow second movement, with its flow- 
ery, ornate violin grace-notes, so characteristic of Oriental 
music. The flexible syncopated rhythms of mountain dances 
dominate in the rhapsodic finale of the quartet. This compo- 
sition soon found first-class interpreters in the Moscow Bee- 
thoven Quartet (D. Tsyganov, V. Shirinsky, V. Borisovsky, 
and S. Shirinsky), one of the finest Soviet chamber ensembles. 

In Nalchik and later (from November 1941 on) in the 
Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Prokofiev worked intensively on 
the opera of "War and Peace, with only occasional diversions 
in concerts of his works in Tbilisi, Baku, and Erivan. Simulta- 
neously he undertook a symphonic canvas of the patriotic war. 
This was his symphonic suite 1941 (Op. 90). It is in three 
parts: "In Battle," "At Night," and "For the Brotherhood of 
the Peoples." The composer himself tells us: "The first part 
is a scene of fiery battle, heard by the auditors both from afar 
and on the very battlefield; in the second part there is the poe- 
try of night, through which pours the tension of approaching 
battles; the third part is a triumphantly lyrical hymn of victory 
and of the brotherhood of all peoples." Prokofiev's firm friend 
and his companion on the evacuation to the Caucasus, the 



composer Nikolai Miaskovsky, soon made a four-hand piano 
arrangement of the new suite. Arousing no particular interest 
in musical circles because of the simplified solution of its prob- 
lems, giving too superficial a description of the war theme, the 
music of 1941 was employed as a score for the new film Parti- 
sans of the Ukrainian Steppes, directed by Igor Savchenko. 
Prokofiev's use in this score of a Ukrainian folk-song, Oh, You 
Galya, made this one of the most popular soldiers' songs of the 

10 : Maturity 

J-JVEN the brief chronological survey given here will 
suffice to show the marked revival in Prokofiev's creative activ- 
ity after his return to the U.S.S.R. An examination of the fig- 
ures will show that during the seven years between 1934 and 
1940 Prokofiev composed almost one and a half times more 
than in the entire decade 1924-33 (twenty-seven Soviet works 
as against twenty "foreign"). Moreover, there were almost no 
rehashes in the new crop of compositions. The fountain of his 
creative energy burst forth anew as in the best years prior to his 
departure from his homeland. 

His passion for the stage, for music of the theatrical pictorial 
variety, for opera and ballet, returned. His subject matter be- 
came richer and more profound: Shakespeare, Pushkin, and 
other literary geniuses now attracted him as never before. He 
worked with interest and enthusiasm on subjects of Revolu- 
tionary history (cantata, Op. 74, Semyon Kotko), on motives 
borrowed from folk poetry and legend (Zdravitsa, Songs of 
Our Days, Cinderella) and heroic themes from the history of 
the Russian people (Alexander Nevsky). 



Once again after long years of enforced silence the living 
human voice sounded in his music (cantatas, romances, mass 
songs). The composer turned again with avidity (after an 
interval of seventeen years! ) to the piano sonata, adding three 
large sonatas to his list of compositions. 

Once again, as in the best years of his youth, Prokofiev's 
music evoked passionate controversies in the musical world. 
Whereas the Symphonic Song, the "Portraits" from The Gam- 
bler, and the Fifth Piano Concerto had left the public cold or 
puzzled, Semyon Kotko, Romeo and Juliet, and Alexander 
Nevsky aroused a veritable storm of discussion, dispute, and 
argument. Only a live, talented, and audacious art can evoke 
such reactions from the audience. Prokofiev's gift had indeed 
blossomed forth anew. 

The new invigorating influences flowed into his music along 
two main channels: firstly, through vivid subject matter, theat- 
rical concreteness, and the ideological import of his new com- 
positions, and, secondly, through the extensive and now quite 
conscious and deliberate interest in Russian national melody. 
A keen and far-sighted artist who had for so many years worked 
as though blindfolded, Prokofiev at last returned for his in- 
spiration to nature, to the great and beautiful world inhabited 
by living men and women and illumined by a real sun. While 
Lieutenant Kije and Egyptian Nights still belonged to the 
category of pictorial, theatrical stylization, the Second Violin 
Concerto and Romeo and Juliet were the expression of new 
lyrical tendencies, the composer's return to the world of pro- 
found and serious human emotion. 

After the drab, somber tones of Thoughts, the Violin Con- 
certo impresses by its wealth of emotional contrasts: the warm 
lyricism of the main G-minor melody in the first movement 
(remotely related to a theme in Tchaikovsky's First Sym- 
phony), gives way to a passionate, tremulous romanticism in 
the subordinate theme in B-flat major (one of the finest melo- 
dic discoveries of Prokofiev). The charmingly pensive second 
movement, with its melancholy figurational patterns gradually 



r \j 

14. Second Violin Concerto, 1st movement, subordinate theme. 

unfolding in the spirit of Beethoven adagios, changes to the 
gay carnival rhythms of the finale, done in the sparkling Latin 
festive manner. 

It is not difficult to trace the connection between the Violin 
Concerto and the music of Romeo and Juliet: in the subordi- 
nate theme of the first movement of the concerto we feel the 
anticipation of the love scenes of Romeo and Juliet; in the 
finale, the carefree gaiety of the masked ball and nocturnal 

Prokofiev's return to the traditional classical construction of 
the concerto after neglecting the orthodox sonata forms for so 



many years is symptomatic. 1 Similarly classical is the use of 
the violin itself as a cantilena instrument (second movement) . 
For Prokofiev, who for years had been considered a confirmed 
opponent of romanticism, the concerto marked a return to the 
lyrical and romantic tendencies of his early youth. As if con- 
vinced of the emptiness and cold indifference of his abstract 
experimentation, Prokofiev the Schumannist and poet re- 
turned to the point from which he started, but now consider- 
ably richer in ideas and technique. 

This restoration of lyrical and romantic tendencies made 
itself even more strongly felt in Romeo and Juliet, written at 
the same time as the concerto. Never before had Prokofiev 
written music for the theater on such a profound and human 
theme, one that impels the artist so inevitably along the path 
of realistic philosophical art. 

The composer's former opponents, who regarded him 
merely as a crude violator of respectable aesthetic standards, 
would never have believed Prokofiev capable of writing the 
music for such a subject. Kolomytsev, the critic, had written 
of the Scythian Suite: "To one it is given to sing of the love of 
Romeo and Juliet, to another to depict the wild screams and 
absurd contortions of monkeys" (Den, January 19, 1916) . And 
now twenty years later the impossible had happened: the rude 
Prokofiev had sung tenderly of the love of Romeo and Juliet. 

It is instructive to compare the conception of the ballet with 
Prokofiev's former ballet works. What Paris had demanded 
primarily of a new ballet was brief action and good dancing; 
profound ideas were not wanted. Diaghilev and Stravinsky had 
sought in ballet an escape from the trials and tribulations of 
everyday life, regarding it as the freshest and most naive — in 
other words, the most irrational — of the theatrical arts. The 

1 In the foreign period the broken-up suite constructions predominated 
(Divertissement, Quintet, piano cycles of Op. 59 and 62); in preference to the 
sonata Prokofiev cultivated the sonatina (Op. 54 and 59), or variation forms 
(Second Symphony, Quintet), and he very often deliberately violated the 
sonata cycle (two-movement Second Symphony, thrcc-movcmcnt Quartet with 
slow finale, etc.). 



ballet Sur le Borysthene was a typical example of this deliber- 
ate avoidance of ideas in ballet music; it was the composer's 
job to write thirty minutes of lyrico-dramatic music to fill in 
one third of a program (in Paris it was the custom to present 
two or three short ballets in one evening). 

Romeo and Juliet, as distinct from Prokofiev's Paris ballets, 
was conceived as a large choreographic tragedy, with all the 
psychological complexities of the heroes, clear-cut musical 
character portraits, and realistic theatrical depiction of scenes. 
Prokofiev came out with flying colors from the difficult contest 
with the classics (Bellini, Gounod, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky) who 
had used the plot of Romeo and Juliet before him. He had 
succeeded in finding his own independent approach to this 
grand theme. 

In the foreground of Prokofiev's music for this ballet we find 
a group of images depicting the love of the tragic couple and 
their sad fate. The love motiv is utterly devoid of sensuousness, 
however; it is tinged with a gentle, restrained sadness, with 


15. Romeo and Juliet, love theme. 

quiet, hidden emotions, transparent and silvery tones pre- 
dominating (solo flute, concertante violin). 2 Developing the 
methods outlined in UEnfant prodigue, the composer em- 

2 The effects are admirably suited to Romeo's words in Act II, Scene ii: 
How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night, 
Like softest music to attending ears! 



ploys the most expressive melodic images with extreme econ- 
omy of timbral and harmonic embellishment. It is no wonder 
that after the passionate chromatic sensuousness of Wagner's 
love themes Prokofiev's lyricism, with its cautious linear con- 
struction reduced at times to a mere two or three voices and its 
simple chord accompaniment (long, soft, monotonous har- 
monic backgrounds), may sometimes seem a shade too pas- 
sionless. It is not until one grows accustomed to this music that 
its amazing purity of emotion and power of conviction can 
be appreciated to the full. Shakespeare is given not with the 
ardent passion of nineteenth-century romanticism, but in the 
refined adolescent spirit of early Renaissance art. 

But while Prokofiev's lyricism was new and not altogether 
comprehensible at first, in the concrete images of Romeo and 
Juliet we at once recognize the familiar hand of the master 
painter, with his ability to sketch the human profile in a few 
bold strokes of the brush. The sunny, merry little Juliet, the 
gay, light-hearted Mercutio, the wise and gentle Laurence, the 
haughty Montagues and Capulets, the proud and vindictive 
Tybalt — these figures are so vividly drawn by Prokofiev that 
one can clearly visualize them, their movements and gestures 
by merely listening to the music. 

The dramatic intensity that distinguished so many dynamic 
images in the early Prokofiev (from Etudes, Op. 2, to the 
Diabolic Suggestions) made itself most powerfully felt in the 
culminating scenes of the tragedy (duel and death of Tybalt) . 
Prokofiev's fondness for contrasts, which had all but disap- 
peared in most of his latter compositions, was revived here with 
new force: the merry pranks of Mercutio, the fun and laugh- 
ter of the youthful Juliet, on the one hand, and the mortal 
combats between the hostile camps, the grief and despair of 
the doomed lovers, on the other. 

Last, but not least, Romeo and Juliet saw the awakening of 
Prokofiev's old passion for the dance in its most diverse mani- 
festations (the precipitate "Folk Dance" in the tarantella 
style, the crude rustic "Dance with Mandolins," the slow 



graceful "Dance of the Young Antillean Girls," the stately old- 
fashioned minuet); it is no accident that at the end of the sec- 
ond act the composer introduced his D-major Gavotte from 
the Classical Symphony, in a slightly new version, as if to em- 
phasize his deliberate return to his former neo-classical tend- 
encies. 3 

From the point of view of drama, however, the ballet was 
open to criticism. It lacked a broad symphonic development, 
the same themes were rather mechanically shifted from one 
scene to another, and in the last scenes there were practically 
no new themes at all. All this may have been the result of cer- 
tain abstract rationalistic tendencies that had appeared previ- 
ously in the music of UEnfant prodigue and other of Proko- 
fiev's recent compositions for the stage. 

Prokofiev's new opera, Betrothal in a Convent, is evidently 
a continuation of the lyrical and romantic trend outlined in 
the Violin Concerto and Romeo and Juliet. Here, as in the 
latter ballet, tender love lyrics, the poetry of hidden passions, 
and the bright dreams of youth are in the foreground, with the 
gaiety of masquerade revels, and merry, good-natured buffoon- 
ery forming the contrast. Although the Sheridan text affords 
rich material for musical satire and grotesque in the comical 
old men — Don Jerome, the cantankerous father, and the fish 
merchant Mendoza, Louisa's wealthy suitor, in the drunken 
monks Father Chartreuse and Father Benedectine — and in 
the wily Duenna, the composer has shifted the emphasis to 
the lyrical episodes of the comedy, the story of the love of two 
young couples, Antonio and Louisa and Ferdinand and Clara. 
The very fact that Prokofiev has chosen the genre of lyrical 
comedy, a genre untouched by opera since the days of Verdi's 
Falstajf, is highly symptomatic. 

No small part in his search for new simplicity and clarity of 

3 This leaning toward the dance runs all through Prokofiev's work, em- 
bracing a number of youthful pianoforte pieces (gavottes in Op. 12 and 32, 
rigaudon, minuet, mazurka), the tarantella rhythms of the sinfonietta in the 
First Concerto, Overture, Op. 42, the rude primitive dances in the Andantino 
of the Fifth Sonata, the finale of the Second Violin Concerto, etc. 



graphic outline was played by the composer's interest in music 
for children. Here an absolute clarity of musical thought was 
essential, for a juvenile audience will never accept anything 
forced and unnatural. 

Prokofiev has also written a whole series of excellent piano- 
forte landscape sketches executed with amazing simplicity 
(Op. 65). After the abstract outlines of Landscape, Op. 59, 
the vibrant poetry of the calm Russian twilights and radiant 
summer mornings sounded a welcome new note in Prokofiev's 
music. His landscape is realistic almost to the point of tangi- 
bility (Rain and Rainbow). A similar concreteness of ideas 
and ability to depict nature with a keen and original pen are 
to be found also in the music of Peter and the Wolf, in which 
melodic ingenuity and clever character-portrayal are combined 
with true virtuosity in the use of tone color. 

Romeo and Juliet, the Violin Concerto, and the children's 
music have proved beyond all shadow of doubt that Prokofiev 
has taken the path of reproducing living nature. Prokofiev 
painter and dramatist, the observer of life as it is, has uncere- 
moniously ousted Prokofiev the unfathomable dreamer, the 
juggler with abstract sounds. 

When speaking of the new instrumental trends in Proko- 
fiev's work (a metier that now seems to have shifted to a sec- 
ondary plane as compared with his work connected with the 
theater), mention must be made of his Sixth Pianoforte So- 
nata. Once again after the Second Violin Concerto the com- 
poser has built an elaborate symphonic form. After the sub- 
dued lyricism of Romeo and Juliet and the Violin Concerto 
the sonata seems to suggest that the biting fury and audacity 
of Prokofiev's talent has broken loose again. Its dramatic plan 
is complex and serious. The long first movement (allegro) is 
a tense dramatic narrative. The magnificent virile main theme 
is followed by a melancholy, songlike subordinate theme; in 
the intricate development both themes clash in a rising tem- 
pest of sound. In this music we recognize the full demoniacal 
power of Prokofiev's feroce. The two subsequent movements 



> > 


16. Sixth Piano Sonata, 1st movement, main theme. 

supply the lyrical relief after the fury of the Allegro: the second 
movement is in the spirit of a graceful, faintly ironic dance 
(akin to the gavottes and some of the dances in Romeo and 
Juliet), while the third movement, in slow waltz time, is a de- 
lightful nocturne that seems to be filled with the echoes of 
clandestine trysts and lovers' sighs. This last is similar to the 
lyrical passages of Romeo and Juliet and Betrothal in a Con- 
vent. And lastly, in the finale we meet again with pleasant sur- 
prise the familiar mischievous grin of the young Prokofiev, au- 
thor of the Second Sonata, with his delightful pranks on the 
keyboard. 4 At the end of the sonata, however, the composer 

4 In this part the undoubted affinity between Prokofiev's images and the 
characteristic images of Shostakovich's pianoforte music is striking. For ex- 
ample, the G-sharp minor episode in the middle of the finale is extremely close 
to the main theme of the finale of Shostakovich's piano concerto; and vice 
versa, in the same finale of Shostakovich it is not diffcult to discover a connec- 
tion in both image and pattern with Prokofiev's Second Sonata (Scherzo and 

I 5 1 


returns to the initial material of the Allegro, treated in the 
form of serious reminiscence, thus completing the circle of 
development and achieving unity of statement. 

The Sixth Sonata is one of the few monumental and philo- 
sophically profound works for the piano written in recent 
years. Such harshness as may occur in the writing (jarring con- 
trapuntal effects and crude harmonic blotches pounded out 
con pugno in the development of the first movement; bold 
polytonal twists in the finale) is no longer an end in itself; it is 
clearly subordinated to the aims of artistic expression. Of in- 
terest also are the fragments of Russian national melody in a 
number of themes (subordinate themes in the second move- 
ment and finale). In both cases the Russian melodies are ac- 
tive and exuberant rather than feebly contemplative. 

After the self-imposed asceticism of Prokofiev's later piano 
pieces the new sonata marked a revival of his characteristic 
full-blooded, flexible, and technically bold piano style. He re- 
sorted to a vast number of technical devices in this sonata — 
complicated skips in the manner of Scarlatti (used also in the 
Fifth Concerto), intricate finger technique (finale), and rich, 
meaty chords with dense figuration (third movement). 

Along with the revival of theatrical and virtuoso tendencies 
in Prokofiev's music, the Russian national influences began 
to make themselves felt more and more strongly. It was not 
until he became conscious of himself as a Russian artist sing- 
ing of the living nature and the living people of his own coun- 
try that he was fully at home in his Soviet environment: the 
pragmatic cosmopolitanism of the foreign period had obvi- 
ously had a stultifying effect on his talent. 

Russian melodic idiom found expression in his first piece of 
music written in the Soviet Union: Lieutenant Kije. It occurs 
both in the plaintive theme of Kije, which forms the frame- 
work of the entire suite, and in the ironic stylization of the 
old-fashioned, "heart-rending" love-song (The Little Blue 
Dove is Cooing). 

Evidence of Prokofiev's search for an original Russian style 

J 5 2 


that would not be a passive imitation of the Five can be found 
in many mass songs to Soviet texts and in the children's music 
(Evening, The Moon Goes over the Meadows). The composer 
here creates original melodies in the national spirit, at times 
deliberately stressing his refusal to borrow. For example, he 
wrote an entirely new melody for Shevchenko's Command- 
ments, for the Ukrainian song All Is Ahum and Abuzz in 
Semyon Kotko, and for the "cooing dove" song in Lieutenant 
Kije. On the other hand, however, he has increasing recourse 
to folklore sources, poring over volumes of Russian and Ukrain- 
ian songs before sitting down to write any music associated 
with national themes, and a few folklore quotations are bound 
to occur, especially in works like Semyon Kotko (central epi- 
sode in Frosya's song, second theme in the wedding chorus ) , 
or the Russian Overture, Op. 72 (two dance melodies in the 
main theme). 

The most eloquent testimony to Prokofiev's national as- 
pirations was his Russian Overture, which is full of the healthy 
spirit of folk dances. In this kaleidoscope of dynamic Russian 
melodies, in this dizzy whirl of popular merry-making, there is 
something reminiscent of the decorative canvases of Malyavin, 
with their passionate dynamics and crude splashes of color. 
Extremely simple in structure (in the form of a rondo sonata) , 
the overture, like its classical "ancestor," Glinka's Kamarin- 
skaya, is built up on the simplest juxtaposition of Russian 
dance images and broad Russian song melodies, without any 
elements of drama or complicated development. True, the 
composer was unable to resist the temptation to indulge in a 
few eccentricities. The strident thunderous bellow of the 
brasses, for instance, which breaks now and again through the 
dashing movement of the dance, gives the impression of a 
somewhat superfluous and belated illustration of Russian big- 
heartedness. But the author is readily forgiven these few ex- 
cesses for the gay, virile energy of the dance themes and the 
exuberant melodiousness of the subordinate theme in B-flat 
major. In this, the best theme in the overture, one hears echoes 



of the broad, rolling Russian peasant-girl songs like I Was at a 
Feast. 5 

If the Russian Overture might be called the apotheosis of 
the Russian dance, in Zdravitsa Prokofiev strove to embody 
the elements of Russian choral singing. The new Soviet folk- 
songs that form the basis of this little folk cantata demanded 
a maximum clarity of musical style: Zdravitsa is a cycle of 

choral songs merged in one rondo-like pattern. The lyrical 
features (Lullaby, Song of the Old Woman who dreams of 
meeting Stalin 6 ) give way to episodes of landscape depiction 

5 Three years later another splendid sample of this type of mclodv was the 
"Farewell" episode in the cantata Zdravitsa (song about the shock-worker 
Aksinya going off to a reception in the Kremlin). 

8 The text for this episode was taken from words composed by Marfa Osyk, 
an aged Mari collective farmer woman: 



or narrative ("Farewell") or to solemn dance tunes in the 
spirit of the festive choruses in Russian opera. Apart from the 
theme of the "Farewell/' one of the finest musical images in 
the cantata is to be found in its principal refrain: the flowing 
C-major air is full of a noble optimism and an inexpressible 
melodic charm; the extreme simplicity of harmony and gen- 
eral clarity of the refrain, combined with the extremely intri- 
cate inner coloring of the C major with its various related 
triads, is noteworthy. Zdravitsa has been justly appraised as 
one of the best Soviet compositions singing of the love of the 
people for Stalin. 

Prokofiev's two major works in the past years, the Alexander 
Nevsky cantata and the opera Semyon Kotko, are a synthesis 
of both trends of the Soviet period of his work: the theatrical 
and descriptive trend, which acquired tremendous force in 
these two compositions, and the national trend, likewise de- 
veloped here in full measure. Both these works at the same 
time revealed an amazing foresight on the part of the artist. 
Long before the Germans attacked the U.S.S.R., and even be- 
fore the war in Europe, he wrote two compositions permeated 
through and through with fierce hatred for German barbarism. 
The Teutonic knights in Alexander Nevsky who trample the 
Russian wheatfields and put Russian towns to fire and sword 
and the repulsive faces of the German invaders who plunder 
and lay waste flourishing Ukrainian villages in Semyon Kotko 
are all reproduced as graphically and convincingly as if the au- 
thor had already personally witnessed the horrors of German 
fascist atrocities. There is no doubt that future generations will 
regard these works as the most striking musical chronicle of 
the sanguinary events that were later to take place during the 
Soviet-German war. 

In Alexander Nevsky the composer wrote on a major patri- 
otic theme for the first time in his life, bringing to it all the 

If my eyes sparkled as when I was a girl, 
If my cheeks were as red as an apple ripe, 
I would hie me to Moscow, the great city, 
And say "Thank you" to Joseph Stalin. 



resources of his musical palette. Notwithstanding the histori- 
cal nature of the theme, the cantata had a direct, topical ap- 
peal for Soviet Russia: it was a clarion call to self-sacrificing 
defense of the homeland. Hearing Alexander Nevsky for the 
first time, one could not but recall the weighty words uttered 
by Igor Glebov so many years before with regard to the Scyth- 
ian Suite. "It seems to me," he wrote in 1916, "that the im- 
pression first produced by the music of Borodin, with his 
striking individuality, his mighty and savage impetuosity filled 
with the aroma of the broad and rolling steppes, must have 
been similar or equivalent to that which we now received when 
listening to Prokofiev's music." 

What Glebov felt at that time in the thunderous peals of 
Ala and Lolli — the powerful perception of life and nature, 
a la Borodin — sounded with new force in Alexander Nevsky. 
As in the Scythian Suite, Prokofiev here is a brilliant landscape- 
painter, the superb master of sound color. The Russian land- 
scape forms the background of almost all the scenes in this 
historical tragedy: the bleak panorama of pillaged and ravaged 
Russia in the first movement; the mist of the early morning 
frosts done in the style of a Surikov painting at the beginning 
of the "Battle on the Ice," and the gloomy nocturnal tones of 
the "Field of the Dead" scene. Against the background of this 
tangible Russian landscape arise fearsome, semi-fantastic 
sound pictures reminiscent of the nightmares of Goya and 
Matthias Griinewald or medieval Catholic frescoes ("Crusad- 
ers in Pskov"). It is a long time since such powerful and con- 
vincing symphonic battle scenes as that of the "Battle on the 
Ice," giving an almost visual portrayal of the historic episode, 
have been written. 

Two sharply contrasting styles are presented in the cantata: 
on the one hand, there are the inhuman and barbarous themes 
of the German invaders, repulsive in their hideous bestiality, 
and, on the other, themes of the Russian people, now manly 
and brave, now sorrowful and stern. These two ranges of images 
give rise to two different styles of sound expression: complex 



polytonal constructions, harsh, repellent harmonies, ugly, dis- 
torted melodies, heavy and strident instrumentation to charac- 
terize the crusaders, and Russian national melodies in clear 
and sober diatonic style for the depiction of the Russian war- 
riors. 7 Prokofiev's favorite guignol, familiar to us from the 
music of his early piano pieces and The Flaming Angel, ac- 
quires in this work not only a vivid concrete shape but also a 
definite purpose. The horror and ugliness embodied in the re- 
pulsive images of the Livonian knights personify the bestial 
face of the warmongers of the present day. 

Prokofiev's fine feeling for style derived from his early World 
of Art experiences — the ability to reproduce in his own mind 
images of remote antiquity without resorting to static museum 
forms — here stood him in good stead. The composer tells us 
that, when working on the depiction of the crusaders, he en- 
deavored to study authentic Catholic hymns of the Middle 
Ages. But "this music was so far removed from us that it could 
not possibly be used. There is no doubt that the crusaders sang 
it with a warlike frenzy as they marched into battle; neverthe- 
less to the modern ear it sounded too cold and indifferent. I 
was therefore obliged to discard it and compose for the crusad- 
ers music more suited to the modern conception" (Pioneer, 
No. 7, 1939). 

And listening to the austere Catholic chorales sung by Pro- 
kofiev's crusaders, or to their menacing battle-cries, one feels 
that the music of the distant Middle Ages must indeed have 
sounded thus. While the impressive guignol scenes of the can- 
tata ("Crusaders in Pskov," "Battle on the Ice") represented 
a continuation of the favorite tendencies of the early Prokofiev, 
the chorus episodes ("It Happened on the Neva River," "Arise, 
Men of Russia") gave evidence of his new quest for images 

7 A similar juxtaposition of two different styles (new harmonic combina- 
tions for the fantastic scenes and the ordinary major and minor for the realistic 
episodes) is quite frequently to be met with in nineteenth-century Russian 
opera (Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov ) . In Prokofiev's opera music we find such 
contrasts as well (the world of realistic characters and the world of fantasy rep- 
resented in The Love for Three Oranges; contrasting of lyricism and guignol in 
Semyon Kotko. 



to depict the grandeur and nobility of the warrior patriots, the 
whole world of Russian melody embodying the heroic aspira- 
tions of the Russian people. Perhaps for the first time the com- 
poser has created broad full-blooded cantilena melodies in- 
stead of recitative music. Every passage in these songs betrays 
its Russian origin (specific contrasting of major and relative 
minor, stressed plagal cadences, the use of the seventh and 
third chords, and other traditional effects of the Russian 
school) . Yet in spite of the familiar qualities of the music, the 
composer nevertheless succeeded with a few bold strokes in 
imbuing it with his own individual manner (for example, the 
unusual harmonic relationship between the various parts: 
E-flat major and B major, and E-flat major and G major in the 
chorus "Arise, Men of Russia") . 

The mastery displayed by Prokofiev in Alexander Nevsky de- 
serves detailed study. The multiformity of his orchestral re- 
sources, from the subtlest impressionism of the water-color 
painter to the crude fresco daubs of the stage decorator, is truly 
amazing, as are also his bold contrapuntal dual-plane methods, 
by which striking cinematographic effects are transferred to the 
realm of symphonic music. One of many examples is the si- 
multaneous sounding of the triumphant theme of the Russian 
horsemen and the distorted theme depicting the route of the 
Livonian knights in the "Battle on the Ice." The very genre 
(vocal and symphonic) of the piece, combining in one canvas 
broad descriptive passages with choruses of a general type and 
arias in the manner of opera (No. 6, "Girl's Song"), is both 
novel and unusual. All the more gratifying is the strong unity 
of form reminiscent in essence of a large sonata construction. 8 
The only point on which the author has been reproached was 
his purely cinematographic montage of musical stills in cer- 
tain parts of the cantata ("Battle on the Ice"), together with 
some naturalistic exaggerations in the battle episodes. 

8 First movement, introduction; the following three parts, exposition of the 
main themes; "Battle on the Ice," a tremendous development group; sixth and 
seventh parts, recapitulation built primarily on the main themes. 



In spite of its complex construction and bold harmonic, or- 
chestral, and polyphonic effects, Alexander Nevsky is entirely 
comprehensible to the general public. This is evidenced by the 
inclusion in the repertory of the Red Army Song and Dance 
Ensemble of the first chorus, while an arrangement of the sec- 
ond chorus is played by Red Army military bands. The choms 
"Arise, Men of Russia," became especially popular during the 
war and is frequently included in radio programs along with 
other popular favorites. 

The advent of this music has given every ground for assum- 
ing that the great Russian classic tradition, the heroic and epic 
traditions of Glinka, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov, have re- 
awakened in Prokofiev's music. 

The opera Semyon Kotko was fraught with much greater 
difficulties for the composer than Alexander Nevsky. In the 
first place, this was Prokofiev's first attempt at a major contem- 
porary theme depicting the heroics of the Revolutionary strug- 
gle: the plot is based on the Civil War in the Ukraine. Sec- 
ondly, there was the inherent difficulty of operatic style arising 
from Prokofiev's attitude to opera. To many it seemed that the 
very task of writing an opera on a Revolutionary theme would 
be altogether beyond Prokofiev's powers inasmuch as he had 
had no practical knowledge or personal experience of the Revo- 
lution and the Civil War. 

Indeed, his numerous attempts at contemporary themes had 
revealed the more vulnerable aspects of Prokofiev's style, those 
which might be called the birthmarks of modernism — the 
cold artificiality, eccentric leaps, brusqueries not always justi- 
fied by the content, and, in some cases, an unnecessary aloof- 
ness and indifference to the theme. This regrettable discrep- 
ancy between the inception of the music and its means of 
expression had made itself most strongly felt in the greater part 
of Songs of Our Days, and particularly in the popular songs, 
Op. 79. At times one felt here the cold composure of the mas- 
ter who has not perceived the inner essence of the image he 
seeks to portray. In such cases it was obvious that the burden 



of the past, the force of tradition and habit inculcated in mod- 
ernist and Western musical circles, still shackled and stifled 
the artist's living muse. 

Fortunately, these birthmarks of Prokofiev's modernist past 
are affecting his latest works to an ever lesser degree. 

Another serious apprehension that was felt after the first 
hearing of Semyon Kotko had a bearing on the very approach 
of the composer to opera in general. When he composed The 
Gambler many years ago, Prokofiev emerged as a strong oppo- 
nent of the traditional operatic forms: the beautiful but static 
opera arias and choruses, poetical texts, all manner of conven- 
tions governing the action, were all cast aside as so much 
useless rubbish. Opera, he maintained, should above all be 
active, flexible, and absorbing. The composer was primarily in- 
terested at that time in the movement and tempo of the de- 
velopment and in keen character portrayal. 

"Of late," he had maintained, "we have witnessed in Rus- 
sian operas a decline of interest on the part of the composer 
in the stage aspect of opera, with the result that opera has be- 
come static, filled with a host of boring conventions. ... In 
my opinion, the custom of writing operas to rhymed texts is an 
utterly absurd convention. The prose of Dostoyevsky is more 
vivid, striking, and convincing than any poetry." The composer 
went on to announce his rejection in principle of the conven- 
tional opera chorus, "since the chorus is neither flexible nor 
scenic" (Vecherniye Birzheviye Vedomosti, May 12, 1916). 

Modern opera, Prokofiev argued, should reflect the speed 
and business-like pace of modern city life. "A hundred to a 
hundred and fifty years ago our ancestors enjoyed gay pastor- 
ales and the music of Mozart and Rameau; last century they 
admired slow, serious music; in our day, in music as in every- 
thing else, it is speed, energy, and push that are preferred" 
(Riga newspaper Segodnya, January 1927). 

Prokofiev's opera principles, which had taken their most 
concrete shape in The Gambler, were at that time to a certain 
extent progressive, for they were directed mainly against the 



tinsel trappings and fossilized methods of the imperial grand 
opera. The young Prokofiev continued the opera tradition of 
Mussorgsky, exaggerating and emphasizing the methods out- 
lined in the latter's Marriage. But these experiments of the 
voung composer undoubtedly contained the seeds of an arbi- 
trary rejection of the very essence of opera, for to condemn all 
operatic conventionality, to reduce operatic action to endless 
musical prose with no songs or complete melodies, would be 
to undermine the very foundations of operatic art. Later, in 
the twenties, this same tendency, extensively represented in 
the new urbanistic opera of the West, actually did lead oper- 
atic art to an impasse. 

When he sat down to write a new opera in 1939, after an 
interval of twelve years since The Flaming Angel, Prokofiev 
was still burdened by these former principles. And whereas in 
The Gambler a demonstrative rejection of operatic convention- 
ality was to a certain extent justified, in the Soviet opera con- 
ceived on the plane of national musical drama this nihilism 
could only have played a negative role. 

What, then, are the contradictions that were revealed in 
Semyon Kotko? On the one hand, the opera marked a definite 
approach on the composer's part to the realistic portrayal of 
life, to modem topical themes. Again, as in Romeo and Juliet. 
a gallery of living human portraits arose before the listener, 
drawn with an inimitable, individual touch. It is worthy of 
note that the more successful of these were images that were 
brutal and ugly (Tkachenko the kulak, the Germans) or 
tensely expressive (the mad Lynba), or gay, carefree, mischie- 
vous (Frosya, Mikola, Tsarev) —that is, the types in which 
Prokofiev had always excelled. In the macabre, tragic scenes 
(Act III. scenes of the fire and execution. Act IV. funeral 
scene) and, on the other hand, in the mem-, semi-ironic epi- 
sodes (beginning of Act I) we recognize the favorite Prokofiev 
images in a new setting. Semxon Kotko. however, brought out 
new qualities in Prokofiev's music as well. First, there is the 
poetic world of love lyrics, more real than in Romeo and Juliet 



(unforgettable scene of the nocturnal idyll at the beginning of 
Act III, the tryst of Semyon and Sophia in Act I, etc. ) . Second, 
there is the Ukrainian national coloring, conveyed in an ex- 

18. Semyon Kotko, Introduction to Act III. 

tremely original, if perhaps disputable, manner in the choral 
episodes (wedding chorus in Act II, Commandments) and 
some solo character portraits (Tkachenko, Semyon, and 
Frosya). Extremely interesting is Prokofiev's technique of 
musical dramaturgy: complex and imposing leitmotiv devel- 
opment, pointed, natural declamatory effects, laconic and 
poster-like directness of symphonic characterization. As for 
the leading idea of the opera, mention should be made of the 
exceptional power and dramatic force of the episodes depict- 
ing the brutality of the German invaders; these episodes evoke 
a fierce hatred for the enemy in the manner of the best speci- 
mens of revolutionary satire. 

An important defect of the opera is the inadequacy of posi- 
tive characters to counteract the world of violence and oppres- 
sion. Neither Semyon Kotko nor the Bolshevik Remenyuk 
have the resolution and selfless heroism of true revolutionary 



fighters. In this respect a good measure of the blame is due to 
the libretto, whose author (Valentin Katayev) has laid too 
much emphasis on prosaic, mundane details and failed to rise 
to the heights of lofty generalization. The unwarranted intru- 
sion of local slang and the abundance of naturalistic detail di- 
verted the composer's attention away from the need to roman- 
ticize the basic images and situations of the opera. The fine 
melodic seeds scattered generously throughout the score al- 
most never develop into full aria forms. All this makes the 
opera difficult for the average listener to follow, and inevitably 
lowers it to the level of a commonplace prosaic presentation. 
The views on opera propounded by Prokofiev as far back as 
The Gambler made themselves felt in all this. 

It is gratifying to note, however, that in his subsequent work 
for the musical theater Prokofiev is endeavoring to overcome 
his modernist principles. His opera Betrothal in a Convent 
contains a number of rounded-out vocal numbers (arias, ari- 
ettas, duets, a quintet with chorus, etc. ) . A similar reversion 
to the finished classical forms, the use of traditional variations, 
adagios, grands pas, etc., is also to be observed in his ballet 

The above criticism of Semyon Kotko is by no means in- 
tended to minimize the excellent artistic qualities of the opera, 
its inner poetic wealth and superlative skill in the develop- 
ment of expressive musical detail. This is not merely an impor- 
tant landmark in Prokofiev's career; it is to a no lesser degree a 
substantial step forward in the development of Soviet opera 
in general. 



11 : The War Years 


And Legend marches in step with him. She grows 
And ever walks beside him, singing and beating 

the earth with her gun-stock. 
Her glance is no longer childlike as she speeds the 

avenger forward. 

Antokolsky: Ballad of the Unknown Boy 

.N THE summer of 1942 Prokofiev changed his resi- 
dence from Tbilisi to Alma-Ata, the capital of Kazakhstan, 
whither the production base of the Soviet film industry had 
been evacuated from Moscow. There Sergei Eisenstein, the ad- 
mirer and friend with whom Prokofiev had worked so harmoni- 
ously on Alexander Nevsky, invited him to work with him on 
his new film, Ivan the Terrible. Parallel with the preparation of 
this score, Prokofiev wrote music for three other films in pro- 
duction at the Alma-Ata and Stalinabad studios: Lermontov, 
Tonya, Kotovsky. Worth particular remark in the Lermontov 
score are several period dances, which were later included in 
piano arrangement in a collection of piano pieces, Op. 96. 
There are interesting bitter musical caricatures of German 
militarists in the scores of Tonya and Kotovsky. 

This film work did not upset Prokofiev's basic creative plans. 
During the summer of 1942 he completed the piano score of 
War and Peace and worked on the orchestration of the opera. 
New chamber works were composed: the Seventh Piano So- 
nata, Op. 83, begun two and a half years earlier and completed 
in May 1942 in Tbilisi; x a Sonata in four movements for flute 
and piano (D major, Op. 94); two series of new piano pieces, 
Op. 95 and 96. And Prokofiev finished the sketches for The 
Ballad of the Unknown Boy. 

The Ballad was based on the anti-fascist verses of the Soviet 

1 This sonata is in three movements: first, in a rather impetuous tempo 
(allegro inquieto), second, a lyrical Andante, alternately tender and tense, and 
a finale, rhythmically whimsical (in £ time). 



poet P. Antokolsky, which Prokofiev used for the creation of a 
sharply dramatic vocal narrative directed against German bar- 
barism. The hero of the ballad, "a merry boy in a gray cap," 
apparently attracted the composer by something more than 
chance: boyish images, naive and teasing, had interested Pro- 
kofiev for a long time, in instrumental music, opera, and bal- 
let. But this time the fascinating child character, a close relative 
to Peter of the well-known symphonic fairy-tale, is lifted into 
an entirely different atmosphere, a mood of engrossing tragedy. 

Spreading death and horror as they come, the German in- 
vaders enter a small town. They shoot the mother and sisters 
of our "unknown boy." The young hero takes a fierce revenge, 
throwing a grenade into a staff car, blowing to bits the fascist 
generals in it. The Ballad is written in Prokofiev's characteris- 
tic manner of free declamation, and is scored for dramatic so- 
prano, dramatic tenor, chorus, and full symphony. 

After an absence of one and a half years Prokofiev returned 
in December 1942 to Moscow, where he introduced his most 
important works composed in the south: the piano score of 
War and Peace and the Seventh Sonata. 

The year 1943 opened for Prokofiev with deserved success. 
The new Seventh Sonata was splendidly performed by the 
young pianist Svyatoslav Richter, and this most "Left" of all 
his sonatas was, unexpectedly for many, enthusiastically re- 
ceived. And in March 1943 the work brought to its composer 
the highest award to which a Soviet artist may aspire — the 
Stalin prize. They were correct who sensed in the tempestuous, 
precipitate rhythms of the first movement, in its menacing 
"percussive" harmonies, in the Cyclopean might of its finale 
— music of gigantic, thundering tension, as if overturning 
everything in its path — a reflection of the shattering events 
endured by the Soviet Union in these years. The sonata has no 
program, but the storms of the war years are surely reflected 
in its general emotional tonality. 2 For a brief moment at the 

2 Felix Borowski, the music critic of the Chicago Sun, wrote very con- 
vincingly on the ideological connection between the Seventh Sonata and the 



beginning of the second movement the nervous dynamics give 
way to the charm of a love-lyrical minuet theme. But soon this 
oasis of pure lyricism is engulfed by the steely pressure of the 
B-flat major finale, courageously uniting in itself the Russian 
monumentalism of Borodin with sharp modern "machine" 

The prevailing interest of the composer, however, was still 
in the theater rather than in instrumental music. In the sum- 
mer of 1943 Prokofiev temporarily interrupted his work on 
Ivan the Terrible in Alma-Ata in order to visit the city of 
Molotov, in the Urals, whither the Leningrad Kirov Theater 
of Opera and Ballet 3 had been evacuated at the beginning of 
the war. This best of all Soviet ballet troupes, with which Pro- 
kofiev had prepared the first production of his Romeo and 
Juliet, had encouraged him to complete the ballet Cinderella, 
on which he had been working when war came. Now, in close 
contact with K. Sergeyev, the choreographer, and N. Volkov, 
the librettist, Prokofiev enthusiastically completed the ballet, 
the three creators discussing each detail of music and staging, 
thus guaranteeing an inseparable linking of the elements of 
music and drama. 

In addition to the Seventh Sonata 1943 also heard other new 
works by Prokofiev, such as the new Flute Sonata in D major, 
Op. 94/ After the stark and furious images of the Seventh So- 
nata, the Second Quartet, and The Ballad of the Unknown 
Boy, Prokofiev was obliged to find an outlet for the pure lyri- 
cal feeling that had accumulated in him. He had experienced 
such lyrical intervals before: the Classical Symphony and 
Fugitive Visions had followed The Gambler; The Prodigal 
Son and the Fourth Symphony had followed the Second Sym- 

war: "Something in the inexorable rhythm of the finale also gives a suggestion 
of the heroic inflexibility of a people who are not to know defeat." 

:t The former Imperial Maryinsky Theater. It was at this theater that Pro- 
kofiev's two most important theatrical works had been staged: The Love for 
Three Oranges in 1927, the ballet Romeo and Juliet in 1940. 

* A later version of this sonata, arranged for violin and piano, was per- 
formed with success by David Oistrakh in Moscow by Josef Szigcti in New 



phony and The Flaming Angel The direct charm of the classic 
line, the original Russian Mozartism within a strictly modem 
concept, colored with characteristic Prokoficvian irony — as in 
the Sinfonietta and the Classical Symphony — all this again 
appeared in the elegant and fragile piece for flute. The trans- 
parent "white" color of the flute, used so often by Prokofiev to 
paint lyrical feminine themes and images, suited perfectly the 
gentle, half-childlike lyricism of this sonata, with its rather 
toylike Scherzo (the second movement), and the playful 
dancing finale. 

Along with his completion of Cinderella, Prokofiev also 
finished his orchestration of War and Peace and prepared the 
piano score for lithographic printing in two volumes by the 
Music Foundation of the U.S.S.R. These publishers also issued 
the piano score of Betrothal in a Convent as well as a col- 
lection of piano pieces — transcriptions from Cinderella and 
separate choruses and arias from War and Peace. 

In the fall of 1943, because of the Red Army's advance to- 
ward the West, the majority of the evacuated musical insti- 
tutions as well as the entire mass of Moscow musicians, 
returned to the capital according to plan. Liberated from dan- 
gerous proximity to the front, Moscow resumed its busy artis- 
tic life. Prokofiev returned in October, and the concert seasons 
of 1943-4 and especially that of 1944-5 § ave prominent place 
to his symphonic and chamber compositions. Thus, in Febru- 
ary 1944 his Ballad was given its first performance, with the 
participation of soloists from the Bolshoi Opera, N. Schpiller 
and F. Fedotov, the Leningrad Cappella Chorus, and the State 
Symphonic Orchestra of the U.S.S.R. under the leadership of 
Alexander Gauk. 

The slightly cumbersome and over-kaleidoscopic music of 
the cantata, unsupported by clear, memorable melody and 
repetitions, did not produce a very great effect. And old tend- 
ency of Prokofiev's had reappeared. Several times before in his 
vocal music the chorus and singers had been disproportionately 
overweighed by the textual material, usually a heavy and un- 



melodious narrative forcing the music to struggle in order to 
keep up with it, without ever revealing its significance. 5 The 
cantata composed on the occasion of the twentieth anniver- 
sary of the October Revolution had suffered in the same way, 
never achieving its purpose because of clumsiness, melodic 
sogginess, and abundance of prosaic detail. 

Meeting at the end of March 1944 in Moscow, the organiz- 
ing committee of the Composers' Union took the form of an 
All-Union Congress of Soviet Composers, at which a special 
report was presented on the work of Sergei Prokofiev during 
the war years. Prokofiev himself made an important address 
at one of the plenary sessions, calling his fellow workers in art 
to improve their craftsmanship. 

In 1944 Prokofiev was again honored by the Soviet Govern- 
ment. Along with a group of other prominent musicians of the 
older generation — Miaskovsky, Vassilenko, Anatoli Alexan- 
drov — Prokofiev was awarded the order of the Red Banner of 
Labor for outstanding services in the development of Soviet 
music. At the same time the title of Honorary Worker in Art 
was bestowed on him. 

After a year's interruption Prokofiev returned with great 
enthusiasm to the score of Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible, Part 
I of which was approaching completion in the Mosfilm stu- 
dios. In the international history of the art of the sound film 
there is no closer creative friendship between director and 
composer than that between Eisenstein and Prokofiev. The 
two artists discussed each sequence of the film before the musi- 
cal passage was written and the sequence finally edited. Proko- 
fiev was thrilled by Eisenstein's temperament and taste and by 
his graphic skill in directly or paradoxically formulating his 

5 The Ballad was given a critical evaluation bv Shostakovich in his report 
to the organization committee of the Union of Soviet Composers on March 28, 
1944: "In the Ballad the music is deprived of a solid, constructive base. I sense 
it as a scries of separate, unconnected musical cadres. To me it seems impossi- 
ble to create a work of the largest dimensions by a method of this sort." 
(Printed in Litcratura i Iskusstvo, April 1, 1944.) 



"orders" to the composer: "At this point the music must 
sound like a mother tearing her own child to pieces," or "Do 
it so that it sounds like a cork rubbed down a pane of glass." ° 
In his turn Eisenstein more than once listened profitably to 
the keen comments of Prokofiev. 

The historical film about Ivan the Terrible had to upset the 
traditional portrayals of this Moscow monarch — contempo- 
rary of Elizabeth of England and Philip II of Spain — in order 
to find the real man behind the former simplified representa- 
tion of him as a raging, bloody despot. In the new film the au- 
thors aimed to show Ivan the Terrible as a courageous unifier 
of the Russian state and as a clever warrior who made his em- 
pire's power firm despite the personal greed of the reactionary 
boyars. A grandiose epic in three parts was planned, the first 
to be completed in the fall of 1944. As in Alexander Nevsky, 
the music was to occupy the role of an active participant in 
the drama, and was not only to accompany the more impor- 
tant episodes in the film, but also to fill it with a parallel, de- 
veloping action of emotional sound. 

One of the most fruitful periods in the creative work of 
Prokofiev was the summer of 1944, which he spent in the com- 
posers' rest-home at a picturesque Russian village near Ivan- 
ovo. He composed during this summer two monumental in- 
strumental works: his Eighth Piano Sonata and his Fifth 
Symphony, Op. 100. 

This Ivanovo rest-home, given by the government to the 
Composers' Union, made it possible in the difficult years of 
the war for composers to live at the expense of the gov- 
ernment in the conditions of a first-class pension and to create 
without the disturbing cares of city life in war-time. During 
the summer of 1944 Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Miaskovsky, 
Khachaturian, and Kabalevsky lived and worked there, rival- 
ing each other in creative productivity. During two months 

6 Prokofiev quoted these remarks in his article "My Work on the Film 
Ivan the Terrible" in VOKS Musical Chronicle, October 1944. 



were born the most brilliant new musical works of the follow- 
ing season: the Second Quartet and Piano Trio by Shostako- 
vich, the Eighth Sonata and Fifth Symphony by Prokofiev. 

The Eighth Sonata is the third in the group of three so- 
natas begun as early as 1939. Thus the work on this cycle of 
sonatas, Op. 82, 83, 84, had been stretched over a period of 
five years, to flower in a display of Prokofiev's monumental 
pianism. The novelty and unusual freshness of thematic mate- 
rial, combined with the sparkle and technical complexity of 
the piano medium, again, as in the Seventh Sonata, amazed its 
auditors. If the most impressive movement of the Seventh 
Sonata was its tempestuously rushing finale in 7/8, then the 
real surprise in the Eighth was the soothing theme of the first 
movement (andante dolce), music that reveals shining bal- 
ance and quiet wisdom. This sonata immediately interested 
the young virtuoso Emil Hillels, famous for his victories in the 
international piano contests in Vienna and Brussels, and the 
Eighth Sonata was triumphantly introduced by him in his 
concert of September 29, 1944. 

During that autumn musical Moscow was also introduced 
to the War and Peace, performed in excerpts with piano ac- 
companiment by the opera ensemble of the All-Russian The- 
atrical Association in October. Somewhat later these excerpts 
were performed with the State Symphonic Orchestra, con- 
ducted by Samuel Samosud. Controversial moments of the 
opera, even before its full theatrical presentation, aroused criti- 
cal comment in the Soviet press; for example, Visarion Sheb- 
halin, director of the Moscow Conservatory, wrote a severe 
article in Literatura i Iskusstvo (October 1944) . This has been 
the fate of most of Prokofiev's theatrical works: their appear- 
ance inevitably arouses keen disputes and discussions of the 
most cardinal points of musical dramaturgy. 

The season of 1944-5 brought one more important victory 
to Prokofiev: his artistic adaptation of ten Russian folk-songs, 
collected originally by the distinguished folk-lorist Yevgeni 
Hippius. The best of these concert arrangements — Fly, Hazel- 



berry, and The Green Grove (for solo voice and piano) — re- 
ceived the first and second prizes at the song contest of the 
All-Russian Concert Tour Association. 7 

In January 1945 Prokofiev's name twice claimed the full 
attention of Soviet musical circles: his Fifth Symphony was 
given its premiere at the composer's concert on January 13, 
1945 in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory; Ivan 
the Terrible (Part I) was released throughout the Union. 

The performance of the Fifth Symphony had special sig- 
nificance: as Prokofiev's Opus 100, it was a sort of jubilee com- 
position in his career. The idea of the symphony had long been 
ripening in the consciousness of the composer, filling his note- 
books with its accumulating themes. The new symphony had 
also a doctrinal function: it had to refute the idea that the me- 
dium of pure philosophic symphonism is alien to Prokofiev. It 
is true that much of his symphonic work had been born of the- 
atrical images (the Scythian Suite, the Third and Fourth Sym- 
phonies, the Alexander Nevsky cantata, the suites from Romeo 
and Juliet, The Buffoon, and Lieutenant Kije) or had been de- 
termined by descriptive or stylized motives. Now Prokofiev for 
the first time declared his right to evolve a symphonic concept 
that had not been forged in pictorially descriptive problems. 
According to the unanimous opinion of musicians, he achieved 
his aim. The fifth Symphony was pronounced not only a genu- 
ine Prokofiev symphony, fully comprehending the philosophic 
purpose of the medium, but also one of the most important 
phenomena of twentieth-century Russian symphonism. Ap- 
proaching in manner the objective epic symphonism of the 
Borodin-Glazunov line rather than the lyrical dramatic sym- 
phonism of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, it captured the 
auditors with its healthy mood of affirmation. In the heroic, 
manly images of the first movement, in the holiday jubilation 
of the finale, the auditors sensed a living transmutation of that 
popular emotional surge, of that bright faith in a joyous fu- 

7 Earlier, in May 1944, Prokofiev had arranged and orchestrated an Eng- 
lish folk-song, Oh, No, John! 



ture, which we felt in those days of victories over Nazi Ger- 
many. A detail: at the moment when the first chords of the 
symphony sounded in the Grand Hall of the Conservatory,, 
we also heard the powerful cannon saluting the heroes of the 
crossing of the Vistula. This coincidence seemed a striking 
symbol of the topical social significance of Prokofiev's new 

No less contemporary were the musical images of Ivan the 
Terrible: themes of supreme Russian valor (episode of the 
siege of Kazan), themes of firm Russian statesmanship (the 
Overture), the virile and impulsive people's choruses (espe- 
cially the splendid chorus of Gunners). The bright pictorial 
quality, the graphic perception, the almost material tangibility 
of separate episodes, as in Alexander Nevsky, were amazing: 
the heavily crawling passages for trumpets and tympani for 
the transport of the Tsar's cannon; or the musical portrayal 
of the tortures of the captured Tatars (with shrieking fioriture 
of screaming brass and harsh rolls of the percussion). How- 
ever, the central place in the music is taken by the profoundly 
human, many-sided image of Ivan, his youthful love (the wed- 
ding choruses), his maturing wisdom, and the nervously tragic 
ecstasy of his agony (unforgettable sobs of the celli, capturing 
the very reality of straining human grief). For the first time 
in his life Prokofiev had turned seriously toward the ecclesias- 
tical music of ancient Russia, re-creating, in a series of church 
choruses, the triumphant exultation and funeral ceremonies 
of the Orthodox Church. 

After the completion of all three parts of Ivan the Terrible, 
Prokofiev will undoubtedly reshape its music into a vocal sym- 
phonic work — or perhaps into an opera. 

Prokofiev's capacity for creative work appears unlimited. 
While these lines are being written the composer is working 
on a new Violin Sonata, Op. 80 (originally sketched in 1939), 
he is developing sketches for a Sixth Symphony and a Ninth 
Piano Sonata (the latter having been outlined in the summer 
of 1944) , and he is revising the score of his Fourth Symphony. 



Waiting in line also is a new comic opera, of life in Kazakh- 
stan, but the composer intends to turn to it only after his sev- 
eral recent theatrical works have been produced. 

What are the new features of Prokofiev's works in the 1940's 

— these years of world-shaking military events? It cannot be 
said that the war lessened his energy; on the contrary, it seems 
to have intensified his creative impetus. More than a dozen 
new opus numbers in less than four years — including a monu- 
mental opera, a symphony, three sonatas, the major part of 
a ballet, a quartet, a cantata, several songs, marches and piano 
pieces, music for four films — this is sufficient evidence of Pro- 
kofiev's amazingly prolific skill during the war years. The patri- 
otic surge of all Soviet people during this period inevitably 
sharpened the composer's own patriotic and social tendency. 
Thus, after Alexander Nevsky, there rise huge musical can- 
vases of Russian history — War and Peace, Ivan the Terrible 

— glorifying the valor and invincibility of the people. Thus 
also are born more urgent, timely works, musical posters di- 
rectly reflecting the theme of the patriotic war — the suite 
1941, songs, The Ballad of the Unknown Boy. Alongside Pro- 
kofiev's predilection for the acid and the picturesque, there 
has been a search in his music for a positive social hero — miss- 
ing in his previous compositions, particularly in those of his 
youth. Now we have Kutuzov, Ivan the Terrible, the leading 
images of the Fifth Symphony, the fighting, grieving, angry, 
and joyful people in the mass scenes of War and Peace. This 
circumstance has increased the role of the chorus in Proko- 
fiev's music; the chorus now functions as a living, active, human 
collective, as a bearer of the people's song. 

The 1940's also display a new rise in the theatrical develop- 
ment of Prokofiev's talent. This can be seen in three scores, 
all of great interest, and each totally different from the others: 
Betrothal in a Convent (which appeared on the very eve of 
war), Cinderella, and War and Peace. Studying these works, 
one notes a new enrichment of thematic material in Proko- 
fiev's music for opera and ballet, as well as the marked growth 



of a specific gravity of melody, as an organizing, image-form- 
ing element. After the uncompromising declamatory flow of 
The Gambler, after the broken and kaleidoscopic quality of 
The Love for Three Oranges, one senses a tendency in these 
latest operas toward rounded, singing melodic constructions, 
toward frank ariosos and ensembles, toward a more living and 
natural song in general. This tendency is more noticeable in 
Betrothal than in War and Peace. A comparable process is 
shown in Cinderella as well: moving away from continuous 
pantomime toward classically rounded ballet numbers. This 
naturally does not indicate a mechanical return to the doc- 
trinal routine of academic opera, in the denial of which Proko- 
fiev strengthened his dramatic talent, showing his powerful 
qualities as an innovator: flexibility and freedom of form, liv- 
ing impulsive tempos, acute and unexpectedly contrasting jux- 
tapositions — these are still the specifics of his dramatic style. 
We consider the sparkling Duenna, by Richard Brinsley 
Sheridan, given modern musical life by Prokofiev, as the most 
vital of his operatic creations. Betrothal in a Convent has the 
least of those nihilistic twists peculiar to the composer's previ- 
ous operas, but has, instead, firmly constructed comedy in- 
trigue and witty character portraits, all fruitful soil for natural 
musical expression. The Soviet theater audience, surrounded 
as it is by new interpretations of the classic comedies of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries — the comedies of 
Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Beaumarchais, Sheridan, and 
Goldoni — would not find a Sheridan-Prokofiev work in the 
least out of place. Without making any major change in the 
original text and lyrics, Prokofiev created a true modern opera 
huffa. In each of the opera's nine scenes there is a dominant, 
clear musical image or a chain of images. These are more or 
less broad ariosos for the leading figures, or polished opera en- 
sembles (such as the beautiful quartet at the end of Scene v 
and the love-duet in Scene ii), or music functioning as a back- 
drop of sound (the carnival dances and choruses in Scenes i and 
and ix, the chorus of women venders in Scene iii, the minuet 



in the music-making episode of Scene vi) . These rounded con- 
structions are usually at the same time leitmotivs for certain 
characters or situations and are repeated or developed in later 
episodes. Thus the opera contains, at several points, the theme 
of growling Don Jerome (his arioso "If a daughter you have"), 
the mocking musical caricature of Mendoza ("Mendoza is a 
cunning rogue"), the amorous melodies of the lovers (An- 
tonio's serenade), the languishing, seductive theme for the 
Duenna, and the youthful, carefree musical images of feasting 
and fun. Interesting also is the method of Prokofiev's musical 
image-formation, defined not so much in the inner structure 
of a traditional arioso scheme as in changing situations. From 
this method comes the organically mature rondo in the music- 
making episode (the whole of Scene vi), the three-part love 
aria of Antonio, interrupted by the pranking masks, and simi- 
lar examples. The opera's humor often evolves not only from 
the wit of the text but also from the comedy of the musical 
situations, as in the comical trio of music-making friends 
(clarinet, cornet, and bass drum), or the grotesque ostinato 
of the drunkard continuing under the dignified chorus of 
monks. Prokofiev's fantasy in this direction has no limits as he 
invents new, witty orchestral effects (the comic chamber en- 
semble in Scene vi, the guitar and individual groups of strings 
backstage in Scene i, and even the playing on glasses in the 
final scene of the wedding feast) . 

Reviving in his opera the eternal images of classic opera 
buff a (the enamored and ugly oldster, the bad-tempered guard- 
ian, the overripe maiden in search of a fiance, the inexhaustible 
soubrette), Prokofiev enriches and individualizes these tra- 
ditional masque-types. As in Romeo, there is a genuine Renais- 
sance feeling in this work: a blend of humor and lyricism, of 
everyday life and elevated ideal, of frivolous and almost inde- 
cent gesture with poetically penetrating elements. One cannot 
decide which to prefer — the glamorous sparkle of the carnival 
scenes, the good-humored mockery that never descends to vul- 
gar grotesque, or the lyrical feeling expressed so warmly, full- 



bloodedly, sunnily. The satirical scene in the monastery may 
remind one of the pagan wickedness of the Boccaccio novelle, 
but the carnival and feasting scenes (i and ix) have the hot, 
epicurean pulse of Rubens. This favorite theme in Russian art, 
the festive jubilation — originating in Pushkin — was brought 
into our music by Glinka, Borodin, and Glazunov. 

In Cinderella, however, Prokofiev, as he invariably does in 
his selection of themes and subjects, makes a turn of at least 
180 . After the intoxicating Renaissance juiciness of Betrothal 
in a Convent, after its lusty laughter and passionate serenades, 
he turns to the "nursery world," toward the toylike fantasy of 
Perrault. Among his important theatrical works, Cinderella 
will no doubt occupy the same place that The Nutcracker oc- 
cupies among Tchaikovsky's — that of a small, jeweled chef 
d'ceuvre that loses none of its charm by its proximity to The 
Queen of Spades or the Pathetic Symphony. 

This is not to say that the world of images embodied in 
Cinderella is limited by the world of dolls and toys. Cinderella 
herself, our familiar childhood heroine, is endowed with 
deeply human feelings: she has a naturally quiet, melting sad- 
ness, the tender, transparent first love of a girl's heart. She is 
the heiress of Rimsky-Korsakov's Snow-Maiden, and among 
Prokofiev's feminine characters she is akin to Beautiful Maiden 
in The Prodigal Son, and, especially, to Juliet. Cinderella's or- 
chestral leitmotiv, which is followed through with classical 
order, and her love-duets with the Prince are filled with true 
romantic charm. It is only when this love palpitation gives way 
to a more active, dancing quality that we see a charming doll, 
a toy, come to life, recalling the three Princesses in the Three 

The score of Cinderella again displays, on a grand scale, the 
dances of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, so be- 
loved by Prokofiev and so often cultivated by him since the 
period of his piano pieces, Op. 12, and his Classical Symphony. 
Here we have a Gavotte (his fifth gavotte), a Passepied, a 
Court Dance full of a slightly heavy grace, a Bourree, and a 



faintly caricatured Minuet. These dances all contain at least 
a particle of good-humored irony. Smiling slyly, the composer 
draws amusing portraits of the old fairy-tale's figures: the 
pompous guests, the impoverished cavaliers, Cinderella's envi- 
ous sisters. Those who are puffed-up with bourgeois pride set 
off the others, scrawny and rachitic, and the effect of clumsy 
grandeur acts as a spur to the irony of Prokofiev's neo-classi- 
cism. 8 

Other dances in Cinderella sound more modern and are 
treated more seriously: waltzes, mazurkas, lyric solos, duets. 
Prokofiev's broad use of the waltz, in its passion and exciting 
sensualism, is an interesting novelty in his music. The series 
of waltzes from Cinderella (a grand waltz, a slow waltz, a 
waltz coda), together with a whole waltz scene from War and 
Peace (Scene iii), and the Mephisto- Waltz from Lermontov, 
show that the form holds a new attraction for the composer. 
This tendency is definitely connected with the general revival 
of waltz rhythms in the Soviet musical milieu in recent years, 
in mass songs and occasionally in instrumental works such as 
the second quartet and ballet suite of Shostakovich. 

There is one more interesting indication in the Cinderella 
score: for the first time since the Three Oranges and The Flam- 
ing Angel Prokofiev returns to purely picturesque, graphic fan- 
tasy. The impressionist fairy portraits (the fairies of Spring, 
Summer, Autumn, and Winter), the magic transformation 
scenes, the fairy-tale images of tap-dancing dwarfs, of grass- 
hoppers and dragon-flies, of midnight chimes — all these visual 
theatrical effects required the use of a generous and decora- 
tive palette. In such episodes as the dances of the four fairies — 
especially those of the Autumn and Winter fairies — there is 
a typically impressionist approach to sound-production: an 
extended play of spicy, colorful harmonies, vividly pictorial pas- 

8 There are clues to this irony in the original source of the ballet in Charles 
Perrault's Cendrillon: "They had gone without food almost two days, thev 
were so overjoyed. They broke more than a dozen laces in the effort to make 
their waists look more slender and they passed the entire time before their 

1 77 


sages, and a domination of harmonic means over melodic-con- 
structive ones. 9 A similar inclination toward coloristic sound- 
production can be seen also in Prokofiev's suddenly fired 
interest in Eastern music. The Oriental dances in Cinderella 
and in Betrothal in a Convent, the wild Tatar strains in Ivan 
the Terrible, and finally an entire string quartet on Kabardinian 
themes — all this makes an interesting Oriental page in Proko- 
fiev's latest work. He treats this Eastern thematic material in 
his own way, each time emphasizing the wiryness in it, its se- 
vere archaism of consonance, its awkward melodic line, its 
obstinacy that permits no sensual flabbiness, and finally its 
wild fantasy of harmonic color (for example, the Lydian mode 
used in the "Orientalia" of Cinderella) . 

There is a compelling blend of fantasy and irony, of boyish 
lightness and dreamy lyricism, that relates Cinderella to The 
Love for Three Oranges. Like an unexpected eyewitness to 
this fact, we suddenly hear in the second scene of Cinderella, 
just as Cinderella offers oranges to her guests, the familiar 
music of the March from the Three Oranges.™ It is as if a 
living musical thread had tied together Prokofiev's two fairy- 
tales across the twenty-five years that separate them. 

The most controversial and complex of Prokofiev's last 
three musical works for the theater is his War and Peace. The 
very intention of the composer to create an opera on Tolstoy's 
huge historical epic was recognized as extremely precarious. 
Repeated attempts by Soviet playwrights to dramatize the all- 
embracing epics of Tolstoy had rarely had even partial success, 
often resulting in no more than talented illustrations of Tol- 
stoy or clumsy dramatizations that over-simplified and dis- 
torted their sources (such as the Maly Theater's 1812, an at- 
tempt to dramatize War and Peace). Is it really possible to 

9 This pictorial-impressionist admiration for colorful consonance can be 
noticed in some episodes of the Eighth Piano Sonata, particularly in the 
transitional passages of the first movement. 

10 There are plenty of precedents for such a device, the most famous of 
which is Mozart's quotation from The Marriage of Figaro in the finale of Don 



cram into a three-hour spectacle the greatest chronicle of the 
life and struggle of an entire nation that we know in the his- 
tory of literature? Fully aware of the scale and significance of 
War and Peace, Prokofiev did not pause before this apparently 
insuperable difficult}-. For several vears the idea of a musical 
embodiment of War and Peace had been in the composer's 
consciousness. The year of 1941, when the memory of the peo- 
ple went back with special vividness to Napoleon's invasion 
of 1812, gave him the impetus to realize his intention. The 
speed with which the opera was created, the dimensions and 
forms of its execution, are among the most amazing phenom- 
ena of Prokofiev's entire creative career. 

Once more, as in The Gambler and in Semyon Kotko, Pro- 
kofiev wrote an opera almost exclusively on a prose text, refus- 
ing on principle to emplov verse. This method of operatic 
prose, of giving musical form to evervdav speech, which had 
been used for the first time by Mussorgsky in Marriage, is Pro- 
kofiev's main operatic method. Here, in practice, comes to life 
Madimir Stasov's prophecv if fiftv years ago: '* The time will 
come for the overthrow of the prejudice that Verse texts' are 
inevitable for the opera libretto — when opera, in the hands 
of those future followers of Mussorgskv, will grow increasinglv 
realistic." u Actually, nearly the entire libretto of War and 
Peace, with the exception of choral episodes, is drawn from 
Tolstoy's original prose text, the scenes onlv occasionally- 
abridged or slightlv transformed. The poetic charm of the 
musical characterization of the main roles, primarily- the roles 
of Natasha Rostova and Andrei Bolkonskv. depends on the 
fascination of Tolstoy's prose, its sinceritv. humanness. and 
maximum laconicism. Natural vocal declamation does not in 
the least suffer in these instances from the absence of rhvme 
and poetic meter. But there are passages in which the libret- 

11 From Madimir Karenin's biography of Stasov. Vol. II (Leningrad. 
1927). Karenin (the pen-name of Stasov's niece. Vaivaia Komarova) com- 
ments on this: "Reading these lines now . . . when Prokofiev has alreadv 
realized The Gambler and The Ugly Duckling, makes one involuntarilv ex- 
claim: 'Stasov the prophet again!'" 



tists' abuse of wordiness and complicated verbal constructions 
make the declamation clumsy and difficult to accept, edging 
as it does toward blank verse without, however, taking the final 
step. In such cases the laws of operatic form revenge them- 
selves on the composer for his neglect, the opera being stripped 
of the most necessary musical thematic freighting. 

The construction of the entire work is extremely compli- 
cated and original: there are eleven episodes and over sixty 
characters, the majority of whom appear only episodically, 
usually only once during the course of the work. Alongside 
intimate "lyrical scenes" portraying the personal experiences 
of the leading characters, there are grand and somewhat 
kaleidoscopic mass scenes presenting a multi-colored picture 
of various events and situations. Since Mussorgsky's Kho- 
vanshchina Russian opera has not known a monumental his- 
torical narrative that so freelv and broadly develops mass-scenes 
of the people, saturated with genre naturalness and acute 
dynamism. However, the dramaturgy of the opera, in spite of 
its originality and freedom, has some basic defects: an abun- 
dance of cast-off, undeveloped characters and dramatic lines, 
and the presence of personages who reason but have not the 
"dominating passion" so necessary to the characterization of 
genuine opera heroes (Pierre Bezukhov himself turns out to 
be such a "needless link" in the opera) , and also a prolixity of 
separate scenes that caused the composer himself to note in 
the published piano score a series of possible cuts. The lyrical 
love thread (the themes of Natasha and Andrei) is developed 
from act to act through the familiar channel of true operatic 
"central activity," but the same cannot be said of the themes 
of war and the people's calamities. These do not receive a 
similar natural development, and therefore the division of the 
spectacle into scenes of "peace" (Acts I and II) and of "war" 
(Acts III-V) is sensed as something mechanical and unsym- 

Three basic strata of musical characteristics form the sonor- 
ous sphere of War and Peace: first, the lyrical images revealing 



the personal emotional world of the chief heroes; second, the 
images of the people who rise against the aggressors; and third, 
genre-descriptive and naturalistic episodes, providing an illus- 
trative, decorative sound background for the spectacle. The 
first of these three lines is the most profoundly and organically 
developed in a whole scries of heightened emotional leitmotivs 
of Natasha's and Andrei's love, music whose sincere breath of 
youth is truly captivating. The scenes in which Natasha par- 
ticipates — the spring nocturne of the Otradnoye garden 
(Scene i), the intoxicatingly tempting scene of the ball (Scene 
iii), the scene at Akhrosimova's, culminating in almost tragic 
ecstasy, and the unforgettably expressive scene of Andrei's 
delirium (Scene x) — are among the best episodes in the opera. 
Each of these is grouped around its own circle of musical 
images, themes of bright hopes or of forebodings: the sinful, 
sensual impulses of the first scene; the wonderful waltz motivs 
that provide an uninterrupted emotional background to the 
ball scene, and the themes of sickening nightmare and the 
premonition of approaching death in the shattering scene of 

Much more variegated and diverse is the musical sphere 
that characterizes the feelings and thoughts of the fighting 
people. Among the ten mass choral episodes concentrated in 
Scenes vii, ix, and xi we encounter several accomplished song 
constructions approaching the traditional type of song in 
couplets, such as the slightly archaic, purposely primitive sol- 
diers' chorus, "As of old, as in Suvorov's time," or the splen- 
didly audacious Cossack chorus in % time, or the artful song 
of the women partisans, "Ah, you pretty ones," in the finale of 
Scene ix. Besides such "inserted" choral numbers, there are 
broad presentations of more developed symphonic choral epi- 
sodes. In these an interwoven style of orchestral accompani- 
ment and choral texture gives the music a more instrumental 
character. Occasionally, symphonic leitmotivs are directly 
transposed into the choral parts. Often the specific choral sing- 
ing elements are integrated into the whole system of emotional 



means. Primarily this complex of means rightly belongs to the 
developed symphonic principle combined with a greater satu- 
ration of the spectator's impressions in the stage action. Among 
these vocal symphonic mass scenes are the tragically expressive 
chorus of refugees from Smolensk (based on the ominous 
leitmotiv of the people's calamaties), the martial chorus of 
the people's army, "How our Kutuzov came to the people/' 
and the Funeral March in the finale of Scene vii, the Moscow 
procession with the bodies of the executed heroes. 

The manly, sagaciously majestic leitmotiv of Kutuzov and 
the broadly singing leitmotiv of victory — these bright and 
noble Russian melodies are heard frequently in the opera 
and they also characterize a series of the most important choral 

The third circle, of genre-descriptive images, again shows 
the qualities of Prokofiev as dramatist, hitting the bull's-eye 
each time with his keen observation. Here he seems to have 
turned realistic portraitist, with a flexible brush and a rich 
palette. In economical, sure strokes he paints such episodic 
characters as the old grumbler, Prince Bolkonsky, the fearless 
coachman, Balaga, the gypsy Matriosha, the landowner Akhro- 
simova. Prokofiev's irresistible finality is most expressively 
shown in the scene of the Battle of Borodino from Napoleon's 
viewpoint on the Shevardin redoubt. Rejecting any portrait 
details of Bonaparte, the composer expresses only the general 
feeling of the scene — the mad hazard of a gambler, shown in 
rushing ostinato rhythms. 

Among the orchestral-pictorial episodes must be mentioned 
the landscape of ruined Moscow (at the opening of Scene ix), 
the huge symphonic picture of burning Moscow, and the dy- 
namic batfle-painting of the fight between the partisans and 
the retreating French (in Scene xi) . 

The Overture to War and Peace is the most developed and 
thematically saturated of all of Prokofiev's opera overtures. 
It is based on the juxtaposition of two of the above image- 
spheres: on one side the images of the people's liberating surge 



(themes of the partisans and Kutuzov), and on the other 
side the lyricism of personal emotion (themes of Natasha and 
Andrei and the theme of Pierre ) . 

War and Peace can be discussed from many angles. Com- 
pared with Betrothal and Cinderella, the specific gravity of its 
music as an organizing image-forming element is evidently 
lowered. This is apparent not only in a certain underestimation 
by Prokofiev of the vocal medium and a certain overabundance 
of prose declamation, occasionally descending to Sprech- 
stimme, but also in the presence of whole episodes that are 
deprived of their rightful melodic fullness. This fault also ap- 
pears in the clumsy and inorganic quality of the whole dra- 
matic plan. It is quite possible, however, that in the process 
of theatrical production these impressions, received from a 
study of the piano score, will be smoothed out. But there is one 
thing that is unquestionable: in spite of the many nihilistic 
exaggerations natural to this opera, its best pages capture one 
with their profound veracity and their seizure of real life. One 
feels sure that these best pages of War and Peace will embel- 
lish Russian operatic classicism of the twentieth century. 

Surveying Prokofiev's works of the 1940's one notes with 
satisfaction another achievement: the richest flowering of his 
instrumentalism, ever acquiring more obviously the character 
of an accomplished and mature symphonic style. The three 
piano sonatas, the Quartet on native North Caucasian themes, 
and the Flute Sonata, Op. 94, were steps toward the wonderful 
Fifth Symphony, a milestone in Prokofiev's creative work, 
summing up his searches of many years in the medium of pure, 
generalized, and philosophic instrumental thought. The three 
sonatas make one speak not only of some new flowering of Pro- 
kofiev's instrumentation, but also of a new quality of crystal- 
lization in his thematic material. Compared with the youthful 
pianism of Prokofiev these sonatas disclosed a greater breadth 
and freedom of intention, a might of imagery that fits only 
with difficulty into the chamber frame of the sonata. Evidently 
the thematic quality and imagery of the new Prokofiev so- 



natas reflects the composer's long experience in the realm of 
theater music. The concrete images of his operas and ballets, 
transplanted into the world of instrumental music, crystallize 
into these unusual and surprising sonata themes. Rushed in- 
tonations, turns, and rhythms born from the words, gestures, 
and actions of stage situations break into the fenced-in sphere 
of pure instrumentalism. In the same way Mussorgsky's living 
reproduction of real nature brought his inventive pianism into 
being. Today Prokofiev fills the old wineskins of classic sonata 
form with unaccustomed content, upsetting traditional limits 
in the selection of thematic means, in character of melody, in 
methods of textural exposition. We therefore encounter in his 
instrumental works either reflections of operatic recitative (it- 
self rising from musical prose rather than from traditional 
vocal cantilena) or self-sufficient lyrical melody barely sup- 
ported by harmonic fullness, or strangely whimsical machine- 
like throbbing rhythms that might have been summoned to 
reveal the dynamic core of some tense scenic situation, or 
captivating and playful dance episodes full of delicate, smil- 
ing grace. One finds the most unexpected images in his new 
instrumental works. Such are the emotional declamation in 
the supplementary movements of the Sixth and Eighth So- 
natas; the irresistibly powerful throbs in the finales of the 
Seventh and Eighth Sonatas, with their fantastic asymmetric 
rhythms; the slow openings of the Eighth Sonata and the Fifth 
Symphony, seeming to reveal the very process of the author's 
deepening thought, and the willful, carved, and obstinately re- 
peated "formulas of appeal" that open the first movements of 
the Sixth Sonata and the Second Quartet. We need not em- 
phasize Prokofiev's beloved scherzo quality, so long familiar 
to us, and maintained in the middle movements of all three 
piano sonatas, the Flute Sonata, and the Fifth Symphony. 
But one must note especially the original treatment of the 
folk material in the Quartet on Kabardinian themes: the na- 
tional themes are not merely "adapted" by the composer; they 
arc forced to surrender completely to his commanding creative 



personality, dissolving in Prokofiev's specific sound-sphere, and 
existing in complete harmony with his most individual rhythm, 
with his free polyphonic manner, and even with his tonic- 
thought, with his long familiar tart diatonic "white notes" 
(the supplementary part of the first movement) . 12 

Interesting, too, is Prokofiev's stubborn aspiration toward a 
more integrated and fused sonata form, toward instrumental 
poetry, and toward the obliteration of thematic disunion be- 
tween the separate movements. I have in mind the underlined 
reminiscences of images from the first movements in the 
finales of the Sixth and Eighth Sonatas and the Fifth Sym- 
phony. As in an organically dramatic narration, the leading 
image of the drama reappears before the conclusion, demon- 
strating the general logic of the dramatic plan. This detail 
clearly proves the adult content and philosophic growth of 
Prokofiev's new instrumentalism. In the process of enriching 
the inner content of his sonatas the composer has not in the 
least rejected the complex and effective advantage of instru- 
mental exposition. The rich piano technique of his three latest 
piano sonatas revives the best parts of his youthful virtuosity, 
amazing in its athletic technical strength and in the controlled 
"sporting" audacity of certain passages, leaps and crossings. 
As for orchestral exposition, the Fifth Symphony embodies 
the highest achievements of Prokofiev the orchestrator, unit- 
ing an intoxicating many-colored palette with a clean disci- 
pline of orchestral development. 

In general, listening to the Fifth Symphony, one accepts 
it as the most important summing-up of the composer's 
searches of many years in the domain of pure symphonic form. 
As rivers and streams flow into the ocean, so do the many pre- 
vious compositions of Prokofiev — his sonatas, suites, and, in 
part, his operas — all nourish the imagery and thematic rich- 

12 An analogy to this may be found in an earlier work, his Overture on 
Hebrew Themes, Op. 34. There also the composer did not in the least subordi- 
nate his individuality to the folk material, but, on the contrary, collected and 
employed material deriving exclusively from his own tastes and preferences. 



ness of the Fifth Symphony, flowing into it through dozens 
of living waters. 

We may well imagine that the serious and heroic thematic 
material of the symphony's first movement, its noble, elevated 
tone, its epic Russian heroism and severely weighed logic of 
form, could have been inspired by the musical images of Kutu- 
zov, Andrei Bolkonsky, Ivan the Terrible, warrior and citizen, 
and the legendary warriors of Alexander Nevsky. The origi- 
nality of this movement is in its slow singing strata, in the 
domination of elevated thought over concrete, living action, 
in the very method of its development — slowly built layers 
of self-sufficient melodic lines and instrumental dialogues. 13 
One hears in this profound meditation the artist's thoughts 
about the fate of his native land, an expression of his inex- 
tinguishable faith in the spiritual triumph and moral power 
of the conquering people. 

Listening to the second movement of the symphony, one 
recalls the entrancing scherzo moods of Prokofiev's lyrical 
comedies and the enchanting atmosphere of light, youthful 
pranks in which his theater heroes meet and fall in love. Out- 
standing in one's memory are the night revels of Romeo and 
Betrothal, in which carnival masks enjoy playful extravagances, 
the half-ironical Mozartean style of the Classical Symphony 
and the Flute Sonata, the smiling, dancing second movements 
of the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Sonatas. The colors are as 
transparent as those of a fine, rare lace. Half-way through this 
semi-fantastic Scherzo appears, for just a moment, a clear and 
naive song like that from some piece of children's music by 
Prokofiev; it suddenly discloses a fragment of reality as con- 
crete and familiar as if lit by living sunbeams. And then every- 
thing is turned upside down: the jolly masks become menacing 
jesters, the orchestral timbres are painted over with oily and 
uncouth brush-strokes, choked with mocking and quacking 

13 These peculiarities of development contradict the apparent similarity 
between the themes in the first movement of this symphony and characteristic 
symphonic themes of Glazunov, usually treated clastically and step by step. 



sounds. Wicked freaks and monsters launch into an evil dance, 
laughing and sneering at the world of rainbow hopes. 

After this queer nocturnal spectacle the third movement 
enters with a special power of bright lyricism, ripe, healthy, 
and life-affirming. Analogies with Prokofiev's opera-images 
again appear, primarily with the lyricism of Andrei Bolkonsky, 
whose life-wisdom was not enough to shield his faith in ideal 
love. But the song-element soon gives way to dramatic decla- 
mation, ever more inspired, reaching climactic points saturated 
with funereal tragedy. And then again appears the light of 
calm, noble meditation. 

Reminiscences from the first movement, opening the path 
toward the final movement, again establish the basic philo- 
sophical direction taken by the whole composition, the idea 
of the triumphing, courageous, and mature spirit. And then 
unrolls a colorful and festive panneau and an incessant flood 
of brilliant carnival activity. The richness and tumult of color 
again summon up analogies with the intoxicating fruitiness of 
Flemish painting. This carnival festivity had been heard more 
than once in previous symphonic works by Prokofiev, not to 
mention in actual "ballet music"; but this time the whirling 
mass dance is often interrupted by profound lyrical medita- 
tions, epic extended melodies in the spirit of Mussorgsky (lines 
from the first and third movements ) . And toward the end the 
contagious merriment of the festivity again triumphs, echoing 
with living peals of healthy, human laughter. 

In the clear optimistic tone of the Fifth Symphony are em- 
braced a firm faith in life and an elemental hymning of life's 
great joys. Prokofiev's inherent "feeling of a healthy country 
and the energies and forces hidden in it" are expressed in the 
thoughts and moods of the symphony. Here in these images 
is hidden a living prescience of the hard-won morrow of the 
Soviet Union. 

Sergei Prokofiev is now at the height of his powers. Having 
written some one hundred numbered works of various genres, 



including operas, ballets, symphonies, cantatas, piano and vio- 
lin concertos, piano sonatas, many orchestral suites, overtures, 
and chamber pieces, some fifty songs and lyrics, and nearly 
one hundred piano pieces, he is by no means content to rest 
on his achievements. A host of ideas for new major instrumen- 
tal compositions are awaiting fulfillment, and Prokofiev is 
nursing many an interesting plan in the field of opera. After 
Zdravitsa, Semyon Kotko, and War and Peace, new achieve- 
ments with Soviet subject matter may be expected from him 
as well. 

Prokofiev's music may not always be wholly comprehensi- 
ble to the average concert-goer. An outstanding artist and an 
inveterate innovator, he continues stubbornly to blaze paths 
into the future. In our days his experiments in harmony, into- 
nation, and orchestration, subordinated as they are to the lead- 
ing idea, have acquired a new meaning and purpose. And what 
may not be fully comprehended by everyone today will, with 
the growth of our general musical culture, be universally ac- 
cepted tomorrow. 

We have every reason to be proud of the fact that we have 
in our midst today a master whose work is flourishing along 
with Soviet music as a whole, consolidating its prominent po- 
sition in the world of art. 


Catalogue of Prokofiev's Works 

Giving for Prokofiev's first one hundred opera the opus number, title, date of 

composition (date of original form), and — when possible — first publisher and 

date and place of first performance. 

Op. 1. First Sonata for piano, F 
minor. 1909 (1907). Jurgenson. 
February 21, 1910, Moscow. 

Op. 2. Four Etudes for piano: D 
minor, E minor, C minor, C minor. 

1909, Jurgenson. February 21, 

1910, Moscow. 

Op. 3. Four Pieces for piano: Story, 
Badinage, March, Phantom. 1911 
(1907-8). Jurgenson. March 28, 

1911, St. Petersburg. 

Op. 4. Four Pieces for piano: Rem- 
iniscence, Elan, Despair, Diabolic 
Suggestions. 1910-12 (sketches, 
1908). Jurgenson. December 18, 
1908, St. Petersburg. 

Op. 5. Sinfonietta for orchestra, A 
major, in five movements. 1909- 
14. Gutheil. October 24, 1915, St. 

Op. 6. Dreams, symphonic picture 
for orchestra. 1910. MS. November 
22, 1910, St. Petersburg. 

Op. 7. Swan and Wave, two female 
choruses with orchestra to Bal- 
mont's words. 1910. MS. 

Op. 8. Autumnal Sketch for orches- 
tra. 1910. MS. July 19, 1911, Mos- 

Op. 9. Two Poems for voice and 
piano. 1910-11. Gutheil. 

Op. 10. First Concerto for piano and 
orchestra, D-flat major. 1911. Jur- 
genson. July 25, 1912, Moscow. 

Op. 11. Toccata for piano. 1912. 
Jurgenson. December 10, 1916, St. 

Op. 12. Ten Pieces for piano: March, 
Gavotte, Rigaudon, Mazurka, Ca- 
price, Legend, Prelude, Allemande, 
Scherzo humoristique, Scherzo. 

1913 (sketches, 1906-12). Jurgen- 
son. Orchestral transcription of No. 
9, Scherzo for Four Bassoons. Jur- 

Op. 13. Magdalene, opera in one act 
to Lieven's text. 1913 (1911). MS. 

Op. 14. Second Sonata for piano, D 
minor, in four movements. 1912. 
Jurgenson. January 23, 1914, Mos- 

Op. 15. Ballad for cello and piano. 
1912. Jurgenson. January 23, 1914, 

Op. 16. Second Concerto for piano 
and orchestra, G minor, in four 
movements. 1913. Gutheil. August 
23, 1913, Pavlovsk. 

Op. 17. Sarcasms, piano cycle. 1912- 
14. Jurgenson. December 10, 1916, 
St. Petersburg. 

Op. 18. The Ugly Duckling (based 
on Andersen's fairy-tale) for voice 
and piano. 1914. Gutheil. January 

17, 1915, St. Petersburg. There is 
also a manuscript version for voice 
and orchestra. 

Op. 19. First Concerto for violin and 
orchestra, D major, in three move- 
ments. 1916-17. Gutheil. October 

18, 1923, Paris. 

Op. 20. Scythian Suite (Ala and 
Lolli), in four movements. 1914. 
Gutheil. January 16, 1916, St. 

Op. 21. The Buffoon (Chout), bal- 
let in six scenes. 1920 (1915). 
Gutheil. May 17, 1921, Paris. 

Op. 21-A. The Buffoon, symphonic 
suite in twelve movements. Gut- 

Op. 22. Fugitive Visions, twenty 



pieces for piano. 1915-17. Gutheil. 
April 15, 1918, St. Petersburg. 

Op. 23. Five Poems for voice and 
piano: Under the Roof, Gray 
Dress, Trust Me, In My Garden, 
Wizard. 1915. Gutheil. 

Op. 24. The Gambler, opera in four 
acts, based on Dostoyevsky. 1927, 
(1915-16). Gutheil. April 29, 
1929, Brussels. 

Op. 25. Classical Symphony, D ma- 
jor. 1917. Gutheil. April 21, 1918, 
St. Petersburg. 

Op. 26. Third Concerto for piano 
and orchestra, C major. 1921 
(1917). Gutheil. December 16, 
1921, Chicago. 

Op. 27. Five Songs to the words of 
Anna Akhmatova: The Sun Fills 
My Room, True Tenderness, In 
Remembrance of the Sun, Good 
Morning, The Gray-Eyed King. 
1916. Gutheil. February 5, 1917, 

Op. 28. Third Sonata for piano, A 
minor. 1917 (1907). Gutheil. 
April 15, 1918, St. Petersburg. 

Op. 29. Fourth Sonata for piano, C 
minor. 1917 (1908). Gutheil. April 
17, 1918, St. Petersburg. 

Op. 29-A. Andante from the Fourth 
Sonata, transcribed bv the author 
for symphony orchestra. MS. 

Op. 30. Seven, They Are Seven for 
solo tenor, chorus, and orchestra, 
to Balmont's text. 1917. Gutheil. 
May 29, 1924, Paris. 

Op. 31. Tales of the Old Grand- 
mother, four pieces for piano. 1918. 
Gutheil. January 7, 1919, New 

Op. 32. Four Pieces for piano: 
Dance, Minuet, Gavotte, Waltz. 
1918. Gutheil. 

Op. 33. The Love for Three 
Oranges, opera in four acts, based 
on Carlo Gozzi. 1919. Gutheil. 
December 30, 1921, Chicago. 

Op. 33-A. The Love for Three 
Oranges, symphonic suite in six 
movements. 1924 (1919). Gutheil. 
November 29, 1925, Paris. 

Op. 33-B. March and Scherzo from 
The Love for Three Oranges, tran- 
scription for piano. 

Op. 34. Overture on Hebrew 
Themes, for clarinet, piano, and 
string quartet (two violins, viola, 
and cello). 1919. Gutheil. January 
26, 1920, New York. 

Op. 34-A. Overture on Hebrew 
Themes, for symphony orchestra. 
1932 (1919). Gutheil. Moscow. 

Op. 35. Five Melodies without 
Words, for voice and piano. 1920. 
Gutheil. March 27, 1921, New 

Op. 35-A. Five Melodies, for violin 
and piano. 1925 (1920). Gutheil. 

Op. 36. Five Songs, for voice and 
piano, to Balmont's words. 1921. 

Op. 37. The Flaming Angel, opera 
in five acts, based on Bryusov. 
1919-27. MS. 

Op. 38. Fifth Sonata for piano, C 
major, in three movements. 1923. 
Gutheil. March 9, 1924, Paris. 

Op* 39- Quintet for wind and 
strings in six movements. 1924. 
Gutheil. February 1927, Moscow. 

Op. 40. Second Symphony for large 
orchestra, D minor, in two move- 
ments. 1924. Gutheil. June 6, 
1925, Paris. 

Op. 41. Le Pas d'acier, ballet in two 
scenes, libretto by Yakulov. 1924. 
Gutheil. June 2, 1927, Paris. 

Op. 41-A. Le Fas d'acier, symphonic 
suite. 1926 (1925). Paris. 

Op. 42. Overture for seventeen per- 
formers, B-flat major. 1926. MS. 
February 7, 1927, Moscow. 

Op. 42-A. Overture for large orches- 
tra, B-flat major. 1928. (1926). 

Op. 43. Divertissement for orches- 
tra in four movements. 1925-9. 
Gutheil. December 22, 1929, 

Op. 43-A. Divertissement, author's 
transcription for piano. 1938 
(1925). Gutheil. 

Op. 44. Third Symphony for large 
orchestra, in four movements. 



1928. Gutheil. May 17, 1929, 

Op. 45. Things in Themselves, two 
pieces for piano. 1928. Gutheil. 

Op. 46. L'Enfant prodigue, ballet in 
two scenes. 1928. Gutheil. May 21, 

1929, Paris. 

Op. 46-A. Symphonic Suite based on 
L'Enfant prodigue. 1929. MS. 

Op. 47. Fourth Symphony, C major, 
in four movements. 1930. MS. No- 
vember 14, 1930, Boston. 

Op. 48. Sinfonietta for little sym- 
phony orchestra, A major (version 
of Op. 5). 1929. Gutheil. Decem- 
ber 22, 1929, Paris. 

Op. 49. Four Portraits from The 
Gambler, suite for large orchestra, 
in five movements. 1930-1. Gut- 
heil. March 12, 1932, Paris. 

Op. 50. First String Quartet, B 
minor, in three movements. 1930. 
Gutheil. April 25, 1931, Washing- 

Op. 51. Sur le Borysthene, ballet in 
two scenes. 1930. Gutheil. De- 
cember 16, 1932, Paris. 

Op. 51-A. Sur le Borysthene, sym- 
phonic suite. 1933 (1930). 

Op. 52. Six Transcriptions for piano: 
Intermezzo, Rondo, Etude, Scher- 
zino, Andante, Scherzo, 1931. 

Op. 53. Fourth Concerto for piano, 
left hand, in four movements. 
1931. MS. 

Op. 54. Two Sonatinas for piano, E 
minor and G major. 1931-2. Gut- 

Op. 55. Fifth Concerto for piano 
and orchestra, G major, in five 
movements. 1932. Gutheil. Octo- 
ber 31, 1932, Berlin. 

Op. 56. Sonata for two violins, C 
minor. 1932. Gutheil. December 
16, 1932, Paris. 

Op. 57. Symphonic Song, for orches- 
tra. 1933. MS. April 14, 1934, 

Op. 58. Concerto for cello and or- 
chestra, C minor. 1933-8. MS. 

Op. 59. Three Piano Pieces: Prom- 

enade, Landscape, Pastoral Sona- 
tina. 1934. Gutheil. 

Op. 60. Lieutenant Kije, symphonic 
suite based on music for film, in 
five movements: Birth of Kije, 
Romance, Marriage of Kije, 
Troika, Burial of Kije. 1933-4. 

Op. 60-A. Two Songs for voice and 
piano from Lieutenant Kije. 

Op. 61. Egyptian Nights, symphonic 
suite based on music for play, in 
seven parts: "Night in Egypt," 
"Caesar," "The Sphinx and Cleo- 
patra," "Alarm," "Dances," "An- 
tony," "Eclipse of Cleopatra," 
"Roma Militaris." 1934. Gutheil. 
1938, Moscow. 

Op. 62. Thoughts, three pieces for 
piano. 1933-4. Gutheil. Septem- 
ber 1940, Moscow. 

Op. 63. Second Concerto for violin 
and orchestra, G minor. 1935. 
Gutheil. December 1, 1935, Ma- 

Op. 64. Romeo and Juliet, ballet 
in four acts. 1935. MS. 1938, 

Op. 64-A. Romeo and Juliet, suite 
for orchestra in seven movements. 
1936 (1935). State Music Pub- 
lishing House. June 24, 1936, 

Op. 64-B. Second suite from Romeo 
and Juliet, in seven movements. 
1936 (1935). State Music Pub- 
lishing House. 

Op. 65. Children's Music, twelve 
pieces for piano: "Morning," 
"The Walk," "Fairy-tale," "Tar- 
antella," "Repentance," "Waltz," 
"Grasshoppers' Parade," "Rain 
and Rainbow," "Touch and Run," 
"March," "Evening," "The Moon 
Goes over the Meadows." 1935. 

Op. 65-A. Summer Day, svmphonic 
suite for children (Nos. 1, 5, 6, 9, 
10, 11, 12 from Children's Music). 
1941 (1935). MS. 

Op. 66. Six Popular Songs: Partisan 
Zheleznyak, Anyutka, My Coun- 



try is Growing, etc. 1935. State 
Music Publishing House. 

Op. 67. Peter and the Wolf, sym- 
phonic tale to author's text. 1936. 
State Music Publishing House. 
May 2, 1936, Moscow. 

Op. 68. Three Pieces for Children: 
Chatterbox, Sweet Melody, Little 
Pigs. 1936-9. State Music Pub- 
lishing House. 

Op. 69. Four Marches for brass band. 
1936-7. State Music Publishing 

Op. 70. The Queen of Spades, music 
for film; Boris Godunov, music 
for play. 1936. MSS. 

Op. 71. Yevgeny Onyegin, music for 
play. 1936. MS. 

Op. 72. Russian Overture, for orches- 
tra, C major. 1936. Gutheil. Oc- 
tober 29, 1936, Moscow. 

Op. 73. Three Songs to Pushkin's 
words: Pine Trees, Roseate Dawn, 
In Your Chamber. 1936. State 
Music Publishing House. 

Op. 74. Cantata for the Twentieth 
Anniversary of the October Revo- 
lution, to the words of Lenin, 
Stalin, and Marx, for symphony 
orchestra, military band, accor- 
dions, percussion, and two cho- 
ruses, in ten movements, 1936-7. 

Op. 75. Romeo and Juliet, ten pieces 
for piano. 1937 (1935). Iskusstvo 
Publishing House. 

Op. 76. Songs for Our Days, for 
chorus and orchestra: Orchestral 
Introduction, Over the Bridge, Be 
Well, Golden Ukraine, Brother 
for Brother, Girls, The Twenty- 
Year-Old, Lullaby, From End to 
End. 1937. State Music Publish- 
ing House. November 1938, Mos- 

Op. 77. Music to Hamlet. 1938. MS. 

Op. 77-A. Gavotte No. 4, E-flat 
major, from music to Hamlet. 
1938. Guthcil. 

Op. 78. Alexander Nevsky, cantata 
for solo, chorus, and orchestra, in 
seven movements: "Russia under 

the Mongol Yoke," "Song about 
Alexander Nevsky," "Crusaders in 
Pskov," "Field of the Dead," 
"Arise, Men of Russia," "Battle 
on the Ice," "Entry of Alexander 
into Pskov." 1939. State Music 
Publishing House. April 1939, 

Op. 78-A. Three Songs from Alex- 
ander Nevsky, for voice and piano. 
State Music Publishing House. 

Op. 79. Seven Popular Songs: Song 
of the Homeland, Stakhanovite 
Woman, Over the Polar Sea, Send- 
Off, Bravely Forward, A Cossack 
Came Through the Village, Down 
the Road. 1939. State Music Pub- 
lishing House. 

Op. 80. Sonata for violin and piano, 
C major. 

Op. 81. Semyon Kotko, opera in five 
acts, libretto by V. Katayev. 1939. 
MS. June 1940, Moscow. 

Op. 81-A. Semyon Kotko, symphonic 
suite in eight movements. Decem- 
ber 23, 1943, Moscow. 

Op. 82. Sixth Sonata for piano, A 
major, in four movements. 1939— 
40. State Music Publishing House. 
February 1940, Moscow. 

Op. 83. Seventh Sonata for piano, in 
three movements. 1942 (1939). 
January 18, 1943, Moscow. 

Op. 84. Eighth Sonata for piano, B- 
flat major, in three movements. 
1939-44. MS. 

Op. 85. Zdravitsa, cantata for Stalin's 
sixtieth birthday, to folk texts. 
1939. December 1, 1939, Moscow. 

Op. 86. Betrothal in a Convent, opera 
in four acts, based on Sheridan's 
Duenna. 1940. MS. 

Op. 87. Cinderella, ballet in three 
acts, libretto by N. Volkov. 

Op. 88. Symphonic March. July 
1941. MS. 

Op. 89. Seven Mass Songs on War 
Themes; March, A -flat major, for 
military band. 1941-2. 

Op. 90. "1941," symphonic suite in 
three movements: "In Battle," "At 
Night," "For the Brotherhood of 



Nations." 1941. MS. January 21, 
1943, Sverdlovsk. 

Op. 91. War and Peace, opera in 
eleven scenes, based on Tolstoy, 
libretto by the composer and Myra 
Mendelssohn. 1941-2. 

Op. 92. Second String Quartet, F 
major, in three movements (based 
on Kabardinian and Balkarian 
themes). 1942. Muzghiz. April 7, 
1942, Moscow. 

Op. 93. The Ballad of the Unknown 
Boy, cantata in one movement, 
for soprano, tenor, chorus, and or- 
chestra, to Antokolsky's words. 
MS. 1942-3. March 21, 1944, 

Op. 94. Sonata for flute and piano, 
D major, in four movements. MS. 
1942-3. December 7, 1943, Mos- 

Op. 94 bis. Violin and piano version 
of the Sonata above. MS. 1944. 

Op. 95. Three Pieces for piano, from 
Cinderella. 1942. Muzghiz. 

Op. 96. Three Pieces for piano, tran- 
scriptions from the opera War and 
Peace and the music for the film 
Lermontov. 1942. Muzghiz. 

Op. 97. Ten Pieces for piano, from 
the ballet Cinderella. 1943. MS. 

Op. 97 bis. Adagio for cello and 
piano, from Cinderella. 1944. MS. 
April 19, 1944. Muzghiz. 

Op. 98. Two Songs offered in the 
contest (1943) for a new national 

Op. 99. March for band. 

Op. 100. Fifth Symphony, B-flat 



About My Life (Stravinsky), 38 n 

Academy of Music (Rome), 128 

Aeolian Hall (New York), 78 

Afanasyev, A. N., 39 and n 

Collection of Fairy-Tales, 39 and n 

Aida (Verdi), 18 

Akhmatova, Anna, 49 

Akimcnko-Stepovy, Y., 10 

Alchevsky, 1, 14, 50 

Agnivtsev, 42 
Wizard, 42 

Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein-Tisse- 
Prokofiev), 137 

Alexandrov, Anatoli, 168 

All-Russian Theatrical Association, 

All-Russian Concert Tour Association, 

All-Union Congress of Soviet Com- 
posers (1944), 168 

All-Union Opera Conference (1940), 

J 39 

All-Union Radio Committee orches- 
tra and chorus, 138 

Alschwang, A., 109 n 

AZso sprach ZarathustTa (Strauss), 11 

Altshuler, Modest, 78 

Amfitreatov, Alexander, 52 n 

Andersen, Hans Christian, 37 
Ugly Duckling, The, 37 

Anisfeld, Boris, 82 

Antokolsky, P., 165 

Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare), 

Apollon (St. Petersburg), 32 

Arensky, Anton Stepanovich, 26 

Asafyev, Boris (Igor Glebov), 10, 26, 
27, 28, 48, 49, 51, 54, 55 n, 
60 n, 73 n, 93, 104, 120, 156 

Aslanov, 2 5 n, 30 

"Ass's Tail" group, 40 

Augusteo (Rome), 38 

Auric, Georges, 97 

Autobiography (Prokofiev), 5 n, 32-3, 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 110, 11m 
Kunst der Fuge, Die, 33 

Wohltemperiertes Klavier, Das, 33 
Balakirev, Mily Alexeycvich, 68 
Balla, 38 
Balmont, Konstantin Dmitrievich, 19, 

Create Thou Sounds, 20 n 

Seven, They Are Seven, 53-4 

Swan, 19 

Wave, 19 
Barinova, M., 14 
Barto, 131 

Beaumarchais, Pierre Caron de, 174 
Beethoven, Ludwig van, 4, 47, 68, 69, 
78,85,99, 130, 145 

Sonata, A, Op. 101, 85 

Sonata, C minor, Op. 111, 99 
Belgoskino Studios (Leningrad), 126 
Bellini, Vincenzo, 6, 147 
Bellison, Simeon, 81 
Belyayev, Viktor Mikhailovich, 26, 28 
Benois, Alexander Nikolayevich, 14, 

58, 114 
Berdichevsky, L., 81 
Berezovsky, 137 
Berlin State Opera, 106 n, 107 
Berlioz, Hector, 147 
Bernstein, N., 26, 31, 48 
Bessel (publishing firm), 24 
Bezrodny, C, 81 
Bible, the, 109, no, 112 
Birman, S., 139 
Birzheviye Vedomosti, 71 
Blech, Leo, 102 n 
Blok, Alexander Alexandrovich, 52 n 

Twelve, The, 52 n 
Boccaccio, Giovanni, 176 
Bolm, Adolph, 131 

Peter and the Wolf, 131 
Bolshoi Opera (Moscow), 167 
Boris Godunov (Pushkin), 134 
Borisovsky, V., 142 
Borodin, Alexander Porfiryevich, 23, 
49, 60, 156, 159, 166, 171, 

Prince Igor, 5 
Borovsky, Alexander, 22 
Borowski, Felix, 165 n 
Bosse, 50 


Boston Evening Transcript, 105 
Boston Symphony Orchestra, 115 
Botticelli, Sandro, 111-12 
Boulanger, Nadia, 97 
Brahms, Johannes, 69 
Bryusov, Valery, 82, 83, 93 
Flaming Angel, The, 82 
Burlyuk, David, 31, 57 
Buxtehude, Dietrich, 85 

Cazsar and Cleopatra (Shaw), 127 
Campanini, Cleofonte, 79 
Carnaval (Schumann), 82 
Cendrillon (Perrault), 177 n 
Cezanne, Paul, 62 n, 89 
Chaliapin, Fyodor Ivanovich, 35 
Chausson, Ernest, 14 
Chebukiani, Vakhtang, 140 
Chernyavsky, I., 81 
Chicago Daily News, 79 
Chicago Herald and Examiner, 79 
Chicago Opera Company, 79, 85, 86, 

Chicago Sun, 16571 
Chopin, Frederic-Frangois, 4, 17, 18, 

21, 78, 79, 82, 85 
Sonata, B -flat minor, Op. 35, 109 
Classic, The (Mussorgsky), 43 
Cloak, The (Gogol), 42 
Coates, Albert, 46, 49, 92 and n 
Collection of Fairy-tales (Afanasyev), 

39 and n 
Commandments (Shevchenko), 153 
Committee on Arts, 140 
Communist Manifesto (Marx and 

Engels), 132 
Concerto, piano and orchestra, Op. 35 

(Shostakovich), 15171 
finale, 151 n 
Create Thou Sounds (Balmont), 20 n 
Cui, Cesar Antonovich, 8, 28, 49 
Feast During the Plague, 8 

Daily Graphic (London), 89 

Daily Mail (London), 105 

Daily Telegraph (London), 89, 105 

Damskaya, Eleonora, 29 

Daphnh et Chloe (Ravel), 35 

Dargomizhsky, Alexander Scrgeyc- 

vich, 71 
Darrieux, 96 
Dead Souls (Gogol), 42 

Debussy, Claude-Achille, 11, 14, 22, 
32, 60, 68, 89, 97, 130 

Deisha-Sionitskaya, M., 20 

Demchinsky, B. N., 44 

Den, 146 

Derzhanovsky, V., 26, 27 

Deshevov, Vladimir, 29 

Diaghilev, Sergei Pavlovich, 1 3 and n, 
34-6, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 
46, 51, 73 and n, 74, 85, 87, 
88, 89-90, 93, 101, 102, 105, 
106, 109, 110, 111, 114, 117 n, 

Disney, Walt, 131 

Divine Poem (Symphony No. 3) 
(Scriabin), 11 

Dobuzhinsky, Mtislav, 14, 127 

Dobychina, N. E., 52 

Don Giovanni (Mozart), 17871 

Don Juan (Strauss), 11 

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor Mikhailovich, 
34, 35, 44, 50, 160 
Gambler, The, 34, 35, 50 
Idiot, The, 34 

Dranishnikov, Vladimir, 102 n, 109 n 

Drozdov, Anatoli, 33 

Dubasov, 33 

Duenna, The (Sheridan), 139, 149, 

Dukas, Paul, 14, 22 
Dzbanovsky, 48, 58 

Eclair, U (Paris), 86 

Egyptian Nights (Pushkin), 127 

1812 (dramatization of War and 
Peace), 178 

Eighth Extraordinary Congress of 
Soviets, 132 

Eisenstein, Sergei, 137, 164, 168-9 
Alexander Nevsky, 137 
Ivan the Terrible, 164, 166, 168-9, 
171, 172 

Eisler, Hans, 98 n 

Ekgel, Y., 60 n 

Elektra (Strauss), 46 

Empire News (London), 105 

Erlkonig, Der (Schubert), 6 

Essipova, Annette, 17-18, 33 

fitude, C (Rubinstein), 16 and 
n, 17 

Evenings of Modern Music (Mos- 
cow), 52, 93 



Evenings of Modern Music (St. Pet- 
ersburg), 13-15, 20, 26, 32, 
38 n, 48 

Evenings of New Music (Leningrad), 


Fairy-tales (Medtner), 17 

Falstaff (Verdi), 149 

Fantasiestucke (Schumann), 21 

Faure, Gabriel-Urbain, 14 

Faust (Gounod), 5 

Feast during the Plague (Cui), 8 

Feast during the Plague (Pushkin), 8 

Fedotov, F., 167 

Feinberg, Samuel, 22, 103 n 

Feinzimmer, A., 126 

Fernandez Arbos, Enrique, 1 30 n 

Festival of Soviet Music (Second, 

1938), 137, 138 
Feuerbach, Ludwig, 132 
Firebird, The (Stravinsky), 30, 35 
Fischmann, 130 
Five, The, 13, 28, 40, 153 
Flaming Angel, The (Bryusov), 82 
Florestan, see Derzhanovsky 
Foire sur la place, La (Rolland), 97- 

Free Theater (St. Petersburg), 25 
Fried, Oscar, 103 n 
From a Diary (Reger), 11 

Gambler, The (Dostoyevsky), 34, 35, 

Garden, Mary, 86, 92 
Gauguin, Paul, 89, 91 
Gauk, Alexander, 167 
Gazette de Liege, La, 90 n 
Glazunov, Alexander Konstantinovich, 
8,9, 12, 13,17,26, 33,48,49, 
171, 176, 186 n 
Sonata, E minor, 17 
Glebov, Igor, pseudonym of Asafyev, 

Boris, q. v. 
Gliere, Reinhold Morizovich, 6, 8, 22 
Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich, 26, 153, 
15771, 159, 176 
Kamarinskaya, 153 
Life for the Tsar, A, 105 
Gnessin, Mikhail F., 14 
Gogol, Nikolai Vassilyevich, 42 
Cloak, The, 42 
Dead Souls, 42 

Golden Cockerel, The (Rimsky-Kor- 

sakov), 12, 35 n 
Goldoni, Carlo, 174 
Golos Moskvy (Moscow), 23, 25, 55 
Golubovskaya, N., 33 n 
Goncharova, Natalia, 40, 117 
Gorky, Maxim (Alexei Maximovich 
Peshkov), 38, 52, 54/1, 58, 

My Childhood, 52 
Gorodetsky, Sergei, 36 
Goryansky, Valentine, 42-3 

Under the Roof, 42, 43 
Gounod, Charles-Frangois, 147 

Faust, 5 
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco, 156 
Gozzi, Count Carlo, 58, 79 

Princess Turandot, 80 
Grand Opera (Moscow), 5, 107, 115 
Gray Dress (Hippius), 91 n 
Grieg, Edvard Hagerup, 11, 60, 73 
Grosz, George, 98 n 
Griinewald, Matthias, 1 56 
Gutheil and Koussevitzky (music pub- 
lishing firm), 93, 10771 

Hauck, 10971 

Haydn, Franz Joseph, 18, 50, 58, 68 

He-Goat, The (Mussorgsky), 43 

Heifetz, Jascha, 52, 130 

Hillels, Emil, 170 

Hippius, Yevgeni, 170 

Hippius, Z., 91 n 

Gray Dress, 91 n 
Histoire du soldat, L' (Stravinsky), 

40, no 
Honegger, Arthur, 97, 98 n, 118 n 
Hubermann, Bronislaw, 96 
Huneker, James Gibbons, 79 
Hymn to Dinner ( Mayakovsky ) , 42 
Hymn to the Judge (Mayakovsky), 


Idiot, The (Dostoyevsky), 34 
Idiot, The (Miaskovsky), 34 
Imperial Theater (Tokyo), 77 
Indy, Vincent d', 14 
Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominuque, 110 
International Book Society (Moscow) , 

Iskusstvo, 60 n 

Isle of the Dead (Rachmaninoff), 19 



I, Son of the Working People (Kata- 

yev), 13911 
Ivan IV Vassilyevich ( "the Tenible" ) , 

Tsar of Russia, 169 
Ivanov, M., 31 
Ivan the Terrible (Eisenstein-Proko- 

fiev), 164, 166, 168-9, 1 7 1 > 

I Was at a Feast, 1 54 
Izvestia, 124, 129 

"Jack of Diamonds" group, 62 n 
Jean-Christophe (Rolland), 97, 100 
Jurgenson (publishing firm), 24 and 

n > 33> 37> 47 

Kabalevsky, Dmitri B., 169 

Kachalov, 141 

Kalantarova, 33 

Kaledin, Alexei Maximovich, 56 

Kalinnikov, Basil Sergeyevich, 23 

Kamarinskaya (Glinka), 153 

Kamensky, Vassili, 31, 57 

Life with Mayakovsky, 57 n 
Kamerny Theater (Moscow), 127, 

J 34 

Kankarovich, A., 23 

Kant, Immanuel, 55 

Karatygin, Vyacheslav Gavrilovich, 

14, 26, 31, 35, 40—1, 49, 60, 

62 and n, 73 n, 120 
Karenin, Vladimir (Varvara Koma- 

rova ) , 1 79 n 
Kashkin, Nikolai Dmitrievich, 20 
Katayev, Valentin, 13971, 163 

I, Son of the Working People, 1 39 n 
Khachaturyan, Aram, 104 n, 169 
Khovanshchina (Mussorgsky), 180 
Kiev Opera House, 107 
Kino, 137 
Kirov (formerly Maryinsky) Theater 

(Leningrad), 138-9, 140, 166 
Kitezh (Rimsky-Korsakov), 12 
Klavierstiicke, Op. 11 (Schonbcrg), 

Kochanski, Paul, 86 
Kolomyitscv, 55 
Konchalovsky, P., 62 n, 128 
Koptyayev, Alexander P., 58, 71 
Koshctz, Nina, 22, 86, 91 
Kotovsky (film), 164 

Koussevitzky, Serge, 24 n, 32, 40, 54 n, 
57,9271,93,96,99, 100, 115, 

Krein, Alexander, 22 

Kryzhanovsky, Ignatz I., 14, 22 

Krzhyzhanovsky, S. D., 134 

Kunst der Fuge, Die (Bach) , 33 

Kurdyumov, Y., 31 

Kutuzov, Mikhail Ilarionovich, Prince 
of Smolensk, 141 

Kuznetsov, K., 104 

La Motte-Fouque, Friedrich, Baron 

de, 8 
Undine, 8 
Lancere, E., 14 
Larionov, Mikhail Fyodorovich, 40, 

86, 88, 90, 117 
Lavrov, 33 
Lavrovsky, L., 139 
Lebedev-Kumach, 136 
Lemba, Arthur, 33 
Lenin, Nikolai (V. I. Ulanov), 123- 

4- *3 2 
What is to be Done? 132 

Leningrad Cappella Chorus, 167 

Leningrad Conservatory of Music, 


Lermontov, Mikhail Yuryevich, 44 

Masquerade, 44 
Lermontov (film), 164 
Leschetizky, Theodor, 17 
Library of Congress (Washington), 

115 and n 
Lieven, Baroness, 24 
Lifar, Serge, 117 n 
Life for the Tsar, A (Glinka) , 105 
Life with Mayakovsky (Kamensky), 

Liszt, Franz, 17, 25, 60, 64, 68, 91 

Sonata, B minor, 17 
Literatura i Iskusstvo, 168 n, 170 
London, Jack, 78 
Lunacharsky, Anatoly Vassilyevich, 

Lunacharsky, M., 14, 29, 89 n, 103, 

Lyadov, Anatoly Konstantinovich, 8, 

9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 85 
Lyapunov, Sergei Mikhailovich, 33 

and n 



Malkov, N., 101 

Malyavin, 153 

Maly Theater, 178 

Marinctti, Emilio, 38 

Marriage (Mussorgsky), 44, 161, 179 

Marriage of Figaro, The (Mozart), 

18, 1780 
Marshak, S., 136 
Marx, Karl, 132 

Communist Manifesto, 132 
Maryinsky Theater (Petrograd and 
Leningrad), 46, 48, 50, 79, 
102 n, 103, 107, 166 n; see also 
Kirov Theater 
Marzhanov, K., 25 
Masquerade (Lermontov), 44 
Matisse, Henri, 62 n, 90 
Mavra (Stravinsky), 110, 127, 133 
Mayakovsky, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 
31-2, 42, 46, 57, 72-3, 140 n 

Hymn to Dinner, 42 

Hymn to the Judge, 42 

"War and the Universe," 57 
Medem, A. D., 14, 33 
Medtner, Nikolai, 14, 17, 20, 52, 78 

Fairy-tales, 17 
Melos, 5 5 n, 60 n 
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix, 78 
Mestechkin, I., 81 

Miaskovsky, Nikolai Y., 10, 11, 12, 14, 
15, 17, 22-3, 26, 27, 28, 29, 

34>47>5 1 >5 2n >73 n >93> 1 °4 
and n, 109 and n, 141, 142-3, 
168, 169 
Idiot, The, 34 
Silence, 23 
Symphony No. 1, C minor, Op. 3, 

Symphony No. 2, C-sharp minor, 

Op. 11, 52 n 
Symphony No. 6, E-flat minor, Op. 

23, 52 n 
Whimsies, 104 n 
Mikhalkov, 131 
Milhaud, Darius, 97, 1 1 8 n 
Mlada (Rimsky-Korsakov), 14 
Mojica, Jose, 91 n 
Moldavan, Karl, 81 
Montagu-Nathan, M., 77 n 
Morolev, Vassili M., 9-10, 15, 18 n, 

Moscow Beethoven Quartet, 142 
Moscow Conservatory of Music, 102, 

122, 170, 171, 172 
Moscow Film Studios, 1 34 
Moscow People's House, 25 n 
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, 

Moscow Union of Composers, 126, 

140, 168 
Mosfilm studios, 168 
Moskovsky Rabochy (Moscow), 124 
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadcus, 17, 18, 
58, 160, 167, 178 n, 186 
Don Giovanni, 178 n 
Marriage of Figaro, The, 18, 178 a 
Musical America (New York), 77, 78 
Musical Courier ( New York ) , 80 
Musical Times (London), 77ft, 105 
Music Foundation of the U.S.S.R., 

Mussorgsky, Modest Pctrovich, 43, 
44, 70-1, 82, 88, 115, 120, 
134, 161, 179, 180, 184, 187 
Classic, The, 43 
He-Goat, The, 43 
Khovanshchina, 180 
Marriage, 44, 161, 179 
Pictures at an Exposition, 71, 82, 
Promenades, 88 
Sunless, 14, 70 
Muzyka (Moscow), 24, 26-8, 39, 47, 

Muzykalny Sovremennik (Petrograd) , 

My Childhood (Maxim Gorky), 52 

Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 

M 1 * *79 
Napravnik, Eduard Franzevich, 46 

Nemirovich-Danchenko, Vladimir 

Ivanovich, 142 
Neuhaus, G. C, 126 
Nevosti Sezona (Moscow), 48-9 
New Majority (Chicago), 79 
Newman, Ernest, 89 
New York Times, 79 
Nikolayev, Leonid, 14 
Noces villageoises, Les (Stravinsky), 

87, 105 
Nose, The (Shostakovich), 127 


Novaya Zhizn, 54 

Noviye Vedomosti, 58 

Novoye Vremya (St. Petersburg), 31 

Novy Den, 5 5 

Novym Beregam, K (Moscow), 93 

Novy Satirikon, 42 

Nurok, Alfred Pavlovich, 1 3 and n, 49 

Nutcracker, The (Tchaikovsky), 176 

Nuvel, Walter Fedorovich, 13 and n, 

35> 49 

(EdipusRex (Stravinsky), 110 
Oh, You Galya, 143 
Oistrakh, David, 166 n 
Opera (Paris), 116, 117 n 
Orchestra Hall (Chicago), 79 
Orlov, N., 22 
Ornstein, Leo, 78 
Ossovsky, A. V., 24 
Osyk, Marfa, 1 54 n 
Otaguro, M., 77 

Palecek, 18 

Partisans of the Ukrainian Steppes 
(Savchenko), 143 

Passion Play (Oberammergau), 93 

Paul I, Tsar of Russia, 126-7 

Pavlovsk Vauxhall (St. Petersburg), 
23, 25 n, 30, 31,40 

Peredvizhniki, 40 

Perrault, Charles, 176 
Cendrillon, ijjn 

Persimfans orchestra (Moscow), 102, 
103 and n 

Peter and the Wolf (Bolm), 131 

Peterburgskaya Gazeta (St. Peters- 
burg), 25, 30, 31 

Peterburgsky Listok (St. Petersburg), 
16, 26, 31 

Petrograd Conservatory of Music, 48, 

Petrogradskaya Gazeta (Petrograd), 
48, 50 

Petrouchka (Stravinsky), 35, 38, 152 n 

Pctrovsko-Razumovskoyc Agricultural 
Academy (Moscow), 3 

Piatigorski, Grcgor, 138 

Picasso, Pablo, 90, 110 

Pictures at an Exposition (Mussorg- 
sky), 71, 82, 88 
Promenades, 88 

Pioneer, 125, 157 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 78 

Pokrovsky, I. V., 14 

Polotskaya-Yemtsova, S., 14 

Pomerantsev, Y., 5, 6 

Popov, Gabriel (Gavril) N., 104 

Posledniye Novosti, 88 

Poulenc, Francis, 97, 118 n 

Pravda, 125, 129, 136 

Prince Igor (Borodin), 5 

Princess Turandot (Gozzi), 80 

Prishelets, 136 

Prokofiev (composer's son), 94 

Prokofiev, Sergei Alexeyevich (com- 
poser's father), 3, 8, 21 

Prokofieva, Myra (Mendelson) (com- 
poser's wife), 94 

Prokofieva, Marya Grigoryevna (Zhit- 
kova) (composer's mother), 
3-4, 5,8,21,56,94 

Pushkin, Alexander Sergeyevich, 5, 8, 
39,44, 127, 131, 133-4,143 
Boris Godunov, 134 
Egyptian Nights, 127 
Feast during the Plague, 8 
Queen of Spades, The, 1 34 
Yevgeny Onyegin, 1 34 

Queen of Spades, The (Pushkin), 134 
Queen of Spades, The (Tchaikovsky), 

Quintet, piano and strings, Op. 57 

(Shostakovich), 69 n 

Rabochi Teatr, mn 
Rachmaninoff, Sergei Vassilyevich, 
14, 17, 19, 20, 52, 82, 91 

Isle of the Dead, 19 

Symphony No. 2, E minor, 19 
Rad'lov, S., 102 n, 128 
Ramcau, Jean-Philippe, 160 
Ravel, Maurice-Joseph, 22, 35, 118 n 

Daphnis et Chloe, 35 
Ravcvsky family. 5 
Rcbikov, Vladimir, 14 
Rech (St. Petersburg), 16, 26, 31, 41, 

Red Army Song and Dance Ensemble, 


Red Banner of Labor, order of, 168 
Rcgcr, Max, 11, 13, 14, 69 

From a Diary, 1 i 

Serenade, G, 1 1 



Reger, Max (continued) 

Sonata, violin, C, 1 1 

Sonata, violin, F-sharp minor, 11 

Variations on a Bach Theme, 11 
Renard (Stravinsky), 40, 114 
Revolution (1905), 9 
Revolution (February), 50, 52-3 
Revolution (October), 51, 56, 131, 

Richter, Svyatoslav, 139, 165 
Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai Andreye- 
vich, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 26, 35 n, 
48, 51, 85, 89, 157 n, 159, 176 

Golden Cockerel, The, 12, 35 n 

Kitezh, 12 

Mlada, 14 

Sadko, 30 

Snow-Maiden, The, 51, 176 
Ring des Nibelungen, Der (Wagner) , 

RMO, see Russian Musical Society 
Rolland, Romain, 97-8 

Foire sur la place, La, 97-8 

Jean-Christophe, 97, 100 
Romanoff ballet troupe, 100 
Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare), 128, 

129, 147 and n 
Romm, M., 134 
Rouault, Georges, 110 
Rousseau, Henri, 89-90 
Roussel, Albert, 14 
Royal Theater (Brussels), 107 
Rubens, Peter Paul, 176 
Rubinstein, Anton Grigoryevich, 16, 
17, 26 

Etude, C, 16 and n, 17 
Russian Musical Publishers, 24 and n 
Russian Musical Society (RMO), 38 
Russian Musical Society symphony 

orchestra, 52 
Russkaya Muzyka, 60 n 
Russkaya Volya, 52 n 
Russkiye Vedomosti, 26, 60 n 
Russkoye Slovo (St. Petersburg), 20 
Ruzsky, N. P., 29 

Sabanyev, Leonid, 23, 25, 32, 48-9, 

Sacre du printemps, he (Stravinsky), 

35^ 3 6 > 37 
Sadko (Rimsky-Korsakov), 30 
St. Petersburg Conservatory of Mu- 

sic, 8-17, 18, 19, 25, 29, 32, 
33, 35, 51, 67, 81; see also 
Pctrograd Conservatory and 
Leningrad Conservatory 

Sakonskaya, 131 

Saminsky, Lazare, 10 

Samosud, Samuel A., 170 

Saradzhcv, Konstantin Solomonovich, 
22, 25 and n, 26, 103 n, 104 

Satic, Erik, 22, 78 

Savchenko, Igor, 143 

Partisans of the Ukrainian Steppes, 

Scarlatti, Domenico, 68, 118, 120, 152 
Scherzo a la russe (Tchaikovsky), 18 n 
Schloezer, Boris de, 97 
Schmithof, Maximilian, 29, 30 n, 51 
Schmitt, Florent, 22 
Schonberg, Arnold, 14, 20, 78 

Klavierstiicke, Op. 11, 20 
Schopenhauer, Arthur, 55 and n 
Schpiller, N., 167 
Schubert, Franz Peter, 6, 18, 85 

Erlkbnig, Der, 6 
Schumann, Robert Alexander, 6, 11, 
16 n, 17, 20, 21, 70, 73, 78, 
82, 146 

Camay al, 82 

Fantasiestiicke, 21 

Sonata, F-sharp minor, 17, 20 

Toccata, C, i6n, 17 
Scriabin, Alexander Nikolayevich, 11, 
14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 59, 60, 
61, 68, 78, 82 

Divine Poem, 1 1 
Segodyna (Riga), 160 
Semyonov, Ataman Grigory, 76 
Senilov, Vladimir, 14, 22 
Serenade, G (Reger), 11 
Sergeyev, K., 166 
Sestroretsk, 40 
Seven, They Are Seven (Balmont), 

Shakespeare, William, 127, 129, 143, 


Antony and Cleopatra, 127 

Romeo and Juliet, 128, 129, 147 

and n 

Shaporin, Yuri A., 141 

Shaw, George Bernard, 127 

Caesar and Cleopatra, 127 

Shebhalin, Visarion I., 104 n, 170 



Shebuyev, N., 32 

Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 139, 149, 

l 74 

Duenna, The, 139, 149, 174 

Shevchenko, Taras Grigoryevich, 153 
Commandments, 153 

Shirinsky, S., 142 

Shirinskv. V., 142 

Shklovsky. V., 42 

Shostakovich, Dmitri Dmitrievich, 21, 
68, 69 n, 71, 104 and n, 127, 
151 n, 168 n, 169, 170, 171, 


Concerto, piano and orchestra, Op. 

35- 1 S in 

finale, 151 n 
Nose, The, 127 
Quintet, piano and strings, Op. 57, 

69 n 
String Quartet No. 2, Op. 49, 170, 

Symphony No. 5, Op. 47, 69 n 

Scherzos, 69 n 
Symphony No. 6, Op. 53, 69 n 

finale, 69 n 
Trio, piano and strings, Op. 8, 170 
Silence (Miaskovsky), 23 
Siloti, Alexander, 28 and n, 36 and n, 

40, 47, 48, 49, 52 
Six, les, 97, 99 
Sleeping Beauty, The (Tchaikovsky), 


Slovo (St. Petersburg), 16 

Snow Maiden, The ( Rimsky-Korsa- 
kov), 51, 176 

Soetens, Robert, 128, 129, 130 

Sokolniki Park (Moscow), 22, 23 

Solodovnikov Theater (Moscow), 5 

Somov, K., 13 a, 14 

Sonata, A, Op. 101 (Beethoven), 85 

Sonata, piano, C minor, Op. 111 
(Beethoven), 99 

Sonata, B -flat minor, Op. 35 (Cho- 
pin), 109 

Sonata (piano), E minor (Glazunov), 

Sonata (piano), B minor (Liszt), 17 
Sonata (violin), C (Reger), 11 
Sonata (violin), F-sharp minor (Re- 
ger). 11 
Sonata (piano), F-sharp minor (Schu- 
mann), 17, 20 

Sontsov, 3 

Sovietskaya Muzyka, 6 n, 60 n, 108 n, 

123, 128, 137, 139, 140 

and n 
Sovietskoye Iskusstvo, 109 n, 122, 137 
Sovremennaya Muzyka (Moscow), 

104, 120 

Stalin, Joseph, 132, 138, 154, 155 

Stalin prize, 165 

Stanchinsky, Alexei, 28 

Stanislavsky Theater (Moscow), 139 

Stasov, Vladimir Vassilyevich, 28, 179 
and n 

State Literary Publishing House, 39 n 

State Publishing House Music De- 
partment, 93, 140 

State Svmphonic Orchestra of the 
U.S.S.R., 167, 170 

Steinberg, Maximilian O., 14 

Stock, Frederick, 79, 92, 118 

Stokowski, Leopold, 109 n 

Strauss, Richard, 11, 14, 24, 35, 46, 
66, 89, 118 n 
Also sprach Zarathustra, 11 
Don Juan, 1 1 
Elektra, 46 
Till Eulenspiegel, 1 1 
Tod und Verklarung, 1 1 

Stravinsky, Igor Feodorovich, 14, 15, 
28, 30, 34, 36, 38 and n, 40, 
48, 52 n, 57, 73 n, 74,78, 85 
and n, 86, 87, 90, 93, 97, 101, 

105, 110, 111, 114, 127, 133, 

About My Life, 38 n 

Firebird, The, 30, 35 

Histoire du soldat, U, 40, 110 

Mavra, 110, 127, 133 

Noces villageoises, Les, 87, 105 

CEdipus Rex, 110 

Petrouchka, 35, 38, 52 n 

Renard, 40, 114 

Sacre du printemps, Le, 35, 36, 37 

Symphonic de psaumes, 110 
String Quartet No. 2, Op. 49 (Shos- 
takovich), 170, 177 
Sunday Times (London), 89 
Sunless (Mussorgsky), 14, 70 
Surikov, 1 56 
Surkov, 140 n 
Suvchinsky, P., 48 
Swan (Balmont), 19 



Symphonie de psaumes (Stravinsky), 

Symphony No. 1, C minor, Op. 3 
(Miaskovsky), 12 

Symphony No. 2, C-sharp minor, Op. 
11 (Miaskovsky), 52a 

Symphony No. 6, E-flat minor, Op. 
23 (Miaskovsky), 52 n 

Symphony No. 2, E minor (Rachman- 
inoff), 19 

Symphony No. 5, Op. 47 (Shosta- 
kovich ) , 69 n 
Scherzos, 69 n 

Symphony No. 6, Op. 53 (Shostako- 
vich ) , 69 n 
finale, 69 n 

Symphony No. 1, G minor (Tchai- 
kovsky), 144 

Symphony No. 6, B minor (Pathetic) 
(Tchaikovsky), 176 

Szigeti, Joseph, 96, 103 n, 166 n 

Tairov, A., 127 

Taneyev, Sergei Ivanovich, 5, 7 and 

n, 24, 69 
Tannhduser (Wagner), 17 
Tartakov, 49 

Tchaikovsky, Piotr Ilyich, 13, 14, 17, 
18 n, 26, 44, 47, 91, 134, 147, 
171, 176 
Nutcracker, The, 176 
Queen of Spades, The, 44, 176 
Scherzo a la russe, 1 8 n 
Sleeping Beauty, 5 
Symphony No. 1, G minor, 144 
Symphony No. 6 (Pathetic), B 

minor, 176 
Yevgeny Onyegin, 134 
Tcherepnin, Alexander Nikolayevich, 

M> 29, 38 
Tcherepnin, Nikolai Nikolayevich, 17, 

18, 19, 34, 50 
Tchernov, Mikhail, 13 
Telyakovsky, 46, 49 
Tempis, Max, 106 n 
Tenishev School (Petrograd), 57 
Tikhonov, A. N., 54 n 
Till Eulenspiegel (Strauss), 11 
Tisse, Eduard, 137 
Toccata, C major (Schumann), 16 n, 

Tod und Verkldrung (Strauss), 11 

Tolstoy, Count Lev Nikolayevich, 140, 
178, 179 
War and Peace, 140—1, 178-9 
Tonya (film), 164 
Trans-Siberian Railroad, 76 
Trio, piano and strings, Op. 8 (Shos- 
takovich), 170 
Triton (Paris), 118 n 
Tsyganov, D., 142 
Twelve, The (Blok), 52 n 
Tynyanov, Y., 126 

Ugly Duckling, The (Andersen), 37 
Ulanova, Galina, 139 
Under the Roof (Goryansky), 42, 43 
Undine (La Motte-Fouque-Zhukov- 

sky), 8 
Union of Soviet Composers, 168 n, 

Utro Rossii, 26 

Vakhtangov, E., 80 

Variations on a Bach Theme (Reger) , 

Vassilenko, Sergei N., 22, 168 
Vechernaya Moskva, 122, 125, 132, 

Vec/zerneye Slovo, 58 
Vecherneye Vremya, 26, 48 
Vecherniye Birzheviye Vedomosti, 

Vega, Lope de, 174 
Vengerova, 33 
Verdi, Giuseppe, 6, 18, 149 

Mda, 18 

Falstaff, 149 
VOKS Musical Chronicle, 169 n 
Volkov, N., 140, 166 

Wagner, Richard, 11, 66, 78, 148 
Ring des Nibelungen, Der, 12 
Tannhdusser, 17 

Wales, Edward, Prince of, 105 

Walter, Bruno, 102, 118 

War and Peace (Tolstoy), 140-1. 

"War and the Universe" (Mayakov- 
sky), 57 

Warlich, Hugo, 12 

Wave (Balmont), 19 

Weisberg, Y., 48 

What is to be Done? (Lenin), 132 



Whimsies (Miaskovsky), 104 n 
Wihtol (Vitols), Joseph, 16 
Williams, P., 139 
Winkler, Alexander, 9, 16, 17 
Wittgenstein, Paul, 118 and n 
Wizard (Agnivtsev), 42 
Wohltemperiertes Klavier, Das 

(Bach), 33 
Wolf, Hugo, 14 
World of Art, 1 3 n 
World of Art group, 13 and n, 14, 


Yakulov, Georgi, 101 

Yavorsky, B. L., 60 n 

Yershov, I., 50 

Yevgeny Onyegin (Pushkin), 134 

Yevgeny Onyegin (Tchaikovsky), 134 

Yudina, M. V., 138 

Yurasovsky, 22 

Zabela, N., 14 

Zakharov, Boris, 11, 17, 30 

Zborovsky, N., 88 

Zbruyeva, 50 

Zetkin, Clara, 123—4 

Zherebetsova-Andreyeva, A., 14, 38 n 

Zhizn Iskusstva (Leningrad), 89, 94, 

97, 101 
Zhukov, M., 139 
Zhukovsky, Vasili Andreyevich, 8 

Undine, 8 
Zz'mro (New York), 81 
Zolotoye Runo (St. Petersburg), 16 
Zritel, 32 
Zuckermann, V., 60 

Index of Compositions by Prokofiev Referred to in the Text 

Ala and Lolli (Scythian Suite), Op. 
20, 1371, 35, 36-7, 38, 39,41, 
61, 62, 66, 70, 71, 72, 74, 79, 
86, 89, 92 n, 96, 99, 103 n, 
106 and n, 107, 111, 146, 156, 

Alexander Nevsky, cantata from music 

for film, Op. 78, 65, 67, 68, 

83 n, 124, 137, 138, 143, 144, 

155-9, 169, 171, 172, 173, 186 

"Arise, Men of Russia," 157, 158, 

"Battle on the Ice," 65, 156, 157, 

158 and n 
"Crusaders in Pskov," 83 n, 156, 


"Field of the Dead," 156 

"Girl's Song," 158 

"It Happened on the Neva River," 

American Overture, see Overture, B- 

flat, Op. 42 
Autumnal Sketch, Op. 8, 19 and n, 23 

Ballad, Op. 15, 7, 29, 32 

Ballad of the Unknown Boy, The, Op. 

93, 164-5, 166, 167-8, 173 
Betrothal in a Convent, Op. 86, 139, 

149, 151, 163, 167, 173, 174- 

6, 178, 183, 186 

Boris Godunov, music for play, Op. 

Buffoon, The, Op. 21, 39-41, 44, 57, 
61 and n, 66, 70, 71, 72, 74, 
85, 86-90, 91, 92 n, 93, 95, 
96, 107, 111, 171 

Cantata for the Twentieth Anniver- 
sary of the October Revolution, 
Op. 74, 52 n, 131-3, 136, 143, 

Children's Music, piano, Op. 65, 129, 

Rain and Rainbow, 150 

Evening, 153 

Moon Goes over the Meadows, The, 


Chout, see Buffoon, The 

Cinderella, Op. 87, 140 and n, 143, 
163, 166, 167, 173, 174, 176- 
8, 183 

Classical Symphony, D major, Op. 25, 
19, 29, 50-1, 56, 57-8, 65 n, 
67, 69, 72, 108, 149, 166, 167, 
176, 186 
Allegro, 51 
Gavotte, 50-1, 109, 149, 176 

Concertino, D-flat, 90 

Concerto No. 1. piano and orchestra, 
D-flat, Op. 10, 16 n, 22, 25- 
6, 28, 29 and n, 33-4, 52, 60 n, 


Concerto (continued) 

61, 63, 64, 65, 68, 69, 70, 71, 
72, 79, 91, 126 n, 149 n 
Concerto No. 2, piano and orchestra, 
G minor, Op. 16, 28 n, 29, 30 
and n, 31, 35 and n, 36, 38, 
39, 60 n, 63, 68, 69, 70, 72, 
74, 93, 95, 99, 138 
Intermezzo, 70 
Scherzo, 69 
finale, 70 
Concerto No. 3, piano and orchestra, 

C, Op. 26, 16 n, 20 n, 61 n, 65, 
69, 71, 72, 74, 90, 92 and n, 
95, 96, 100, 103 n, 111 n, 118 

first movement, 63, 70, 71, 90, 91 
second movement, 63, 90, 91 
finale, 90, 91 
Concerto No. 4, piano (left hand) 
and orchestra, Op. 53, 118 and 
Concerto No. 5, piano and orchestra, 
G, Op. 55, 69, 118-19, 144, 
Toccata, 69, 118-19 
Concerto No. 1, violin and orchestra, 

D, Op. 19, 41, 51, 56, 58, 
60 n, 63, 69, 70, 71, 72, 95, 
96-7, 103 n 

first movement, 70 

Scherzo, 56, 63, 70 

finale, 56, 64 
Concerto No. 2, violin and orchestra, 
G minor, Op. 63, 63, 65, 116, 
121, 128—9, 1 3°> 1 44~6, 149 
and n, 150 

first movement, 144, 145 

second movement, 144—5, 2 4^ 

finale, 145, 149 n 
Concerto, cello and orchestra, C mi- 
nor, Op. 58, 118, 119, 121, 

Desert Islands, 5 

Ditties, 6-7 

Divertissement for orchestra, Op. 43, 

loon, 114, 115, 146 n 
Dreams, Op. 6, 19, 23, 70 

Egyptian Nights, symphonic suite, Op. 

61, 124, 127, 128, 144 
Enfant prodigue, U, Op. 46, 108, 

109-12, 113, 114, 115 and n, 
117, 118, 120, 121, 147, 149, 
166, 176 
Erlosten, Die ( ballet to Ala and Lolli ) , 
106 and n 

Feast during the Plague, 8, 16, 133 

Overture, 8 
Five Melodies without words, voice 
and piano, Op. 35, 86, 95, 


Five Melodies, violin and piano, Op. 

35-A, 86 
Five Poems for voice and piano, Op. 

23, 42, 91 n 
Under the Roof, 42, 43 
Wizard, 42, 65, 70, 72 
Gray Dress, 72, 91 n 
In My Garden, 91 n 
Trust Me, 9 1 n 
Five Songs for voice and piano, Op. 
36, 19,91,95 
Pillars, 91 
Five Songs to the words of Anna Akh- 
matova, Op. 27, 49, 51, 52, 71, 
Flaming Angel, The, Op. 37, 70, 82- 
4, 9071, 92, 94, 95, 102, 105, 
107, 108 and n, 112, 115, 117, 
157, 161, 167, 177 
Four Etudes, Op. 2, 7 n, 17, 20, 21, 
27, 32, 148 
No. 1, D minor, 21 
No. 2, E minor, 17, 21 
No. 4, C minor, 21 
Four Pieces for piano, Op. 3, 20, 21 
Story, 15, 21, 70 
Badinage, 21, 71 
March, 21 

Phantom, 21, 59, 70, 95 
Four Pieces for piano, Op. 4, 21 
Reminiscence, 15, 21, 70 
Elan, 15, 21 

Despair, 15, 21, 59, 70, 95 
Diabolic Suggestions, 15, 21, 57, 
59, 70, 82, 83, 148 
Four Pieces for piano, Op. 32, 78, 95, 
149 n 
Dance, 78, 149 n 
Gavotte, 78, 149 n 
Minuet, 78, 149 n 
Waltz, 78, 149 n 



Four Portraits from The Gambler, 

suite for large orchestra, Op. 

49, 107-8, 118, 144 
Fugitive Visions, Op. 22, 19 n, 41, 51, 

52-3, 57, 70, 74, 95, 11m, 


Gambler, The, Op. 24, 33, 34, 35, 36, 
42, 44-6, 47, 49-50, 51, 57, 
62, 63, 70, 71, 72, 74, 79, 80, 
82, 87, 107-8, 112, 160, 161, 
163, 166, 174, 179 and n 

Gavotte No. 4, E flat, from music to 
Hamlet, Op. 77-A, 137 

Giant, The, 5 

Guelder-Rose, 120 

Hindu Galop, 4 

I, Son of the Working People, see 

Semyon Kotko 
Ivan the Terrible, music for film, 164, 

166, 168-9, 1 7 1 » 1 7 2 » x 73> 


Kotovsky, music for film, 164 

Lermontov, music for film, 164, 

Lieutenant Kije, Op. 60, 69, 124, 126- 

7, 128, 144, 152, 153, 171 

The Little Blue Dove is Cooing, 

*5 2 » *53 
Love for Three Oranges, The, Op. 

33, 58,61,70,71,74,77,79- 

81, 82-3, 85, 91-2, 92 n, 93, 

95, loon, 102, 103 n, 104, 

107, 157", 166 n, 174, 176, 

177, 178 

March, 61, 81, 103 n, 109, 178 

Scherzo, 81, 103 n 
Love for Three Oranges, The, sym- 
phonic suite from, Op. 33-A, 

Magdalene, Op. 13, 24-5, 70, 95 
March, A flat, for military band, Op. 

89, 140 
Music to Hamlet, Op. 77, 137 

1941, symphonic suite, Op. 90, 142, 
J 73 

Oh, No, John! (arrangement), 171 n 

Overture for seventeen performers, B- 
flat, Op. 42, 102-3, 10 4 n > 
108, 121, 149 n 

Overture, B-flat, for large orchestra, 
Op. 42-A, 102 n 

Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34, 
81-2, 95, 185 n 

Overture on Hebrew Themes, for or- 
chestra, Op. 34-A, 82 n, 92 n 

Pas d'acier, Le, Op. 41, 67, 69, 101— 
2, 105-7, 109, 111, 115, 120 

Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67, 61 n, 63, 
130-1, 150, 165 

Prayer, 15 

Prelude for harp or piano, C, 29 

Quartets, see String Quartets 

Queen of Spades, The, music for film, 

Op. 70, 134, 135 
Quintet for wind and strings, Op. 39, 

100, 104 n, 120, 146 n 

Reproach (unpublished), 10, 70 

Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64, 63, 69, 112, 
121, 129, 135-6, 138-9, 144, 
145, 147-9, 150, 151, 161, 
166, 175, 185 

Romeo and Juliet, suite for orchestra, 
Op. 64- A, 124, 135 and n, 

Romeo and Juliet, second suite for or- 
chestra, Op. 64-B, 124, 135 
and n, 171 

Romeo and Juliet, ten pieces for pi- 
ano, Op. 75, 135 

Russian Overture, C, Op. 72, 61 n, 
!35' x 53~4 

Sarcasms, Op. 17, 29, 36, 42, 46, 52, 
61, 62 n, 63, 70, 71, 72, 87 

Scherzo for four bassoons, Op. 12 (ar- 
rangement of piano Scherzo), 
29, 42, 52, 71 

Scythian Suite, see Ala and Lolli 

Semyon Kotko, Op. 81, 61 n, 63, 83 n, 
138, 139, 143, 144, 153, 155, 
15771, 159-63, 179, 188 
All is Ahum and Abuzz, 153 

Semyon Kotko, symphonic suite, Op. 
8i-A, 140 



Seven Mass Songs on War Themes, 

Op. 89, 140 and n 
Seven Popular Songs, Op. 79, 124, 


Seven, They Are Seven, 19 n, 53, 56, 

7°> 93- 99 
Sinfonictta, A, Op. 5, 19, 36 and n, 

69, 114 

Sinfonictta, A, Op. 48, 19 and n, 65 n, 

114, 115, 167 

Six Popular Songs, Op. 66, 129, 136 

Anyutka, 129 

Six Transcriptions for piano, Op. 52, 

114, 15 

Sonatas (student works), 16 n 

No. 1 (lost), 12, 16 n 

No. 2, 16 n 

No. 3, 12, i6n 

No. 4 (lost), 12, 13, 16 n 

No. 5, 16 n 

No. 6 (lost) , 16 and n 

Sonata, piano, No. 1, F minor, Op. 1, 

10, 16 n, 20, 51, 60 n, 65 

Sonata No. 2, piano, D minor, Op. 

14, 12, 28-9, 30 n, 32, 51, 

60 n, 62, 64, 65, 68, 70, 71, 

72, 78, 151 

Scherzo, 12, 71, 151 n 

finale, 5, 78, 151 n 

Sonata No. 3, piano, A minor, Op. 28, 

16 n, 21, 55, 56, 57, 60 n, 62, 

64, 65, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 

Sonata No. 4, piano, C minor, Op. 
29, 16 n, 21, 30 n, 56, 57, 61 n, 

63, 64, 65, 69, 70, 72, 94 
Allegro, 56 

Andante, 56, 63, 64 

finale, 56 
Sonata No. 5, piano, C, Op. 38, 61 n, 
93, 94, 112, 149 n 

Andantino, 149 n 
Sonata No. 6, piano, A, Op. 82, 63, 

64, 65, 138, 139, 144, 150- 
2, 170, 183, 184, 185, 186 

first movement, 150—2 
second movement, 150-1, 152, 186 
finale, 150-1, 152 
Sonata No. 7, piano, Op. 83, 138, 

144, 164 and n, 165-6, 170, 

183, 184, 186 

second movement, 165—6, 186 
finale, 166, 170 
Sonata No. 8, piano, B -flat, Op. 84, 
61 n, 138, 144, 169, 170, 
178 n, 183, 184, 185, 186 
first movement, 170 
second movement, 186 
Sonata No. 9, piano, 172 
Sonata, piano and violin (arrange- 
ment of Sonata for flute and 
piano, Op. 94), Op. 94-A, 
166 n 
Sonata, violin (student work), 7 
Sonata, violin and piano, C, Op. 80, 

138, 172 
Sonata for two violins, C minor, Op. 

56, 118 and n 
Sonata, flute and piano, D, Op. 94, 
164, 166-7, 2 ^3' x ^4' *^6 
Scherzo, 167 
Songs for Our Days, chorus and or- 
chestra, Op. 76, 136, 138, 143, 

Brother for Brother, 1 36 

String Quartet, B minor, Op. 50, 63, 

114, 115-16, 120, 121, 146 n, 

finale, 146 n 
String Quartet No. 2, F, Op. 92, 142, 

178, 183, 184-5 
Sur le Borysthene, Op. 51, 115, 116- 

17, 118 n, 124, 147 
Sur le Borysthene, symphonic suite, 

Op. 51 -A, 127 
Swan and Wave, Op. 7, 19 
Symphonic March, Op. 88, 140 
Symphonic Song, Op. 57, 118, 119, 

121, 124, 127, 128, 144 
Symphonic Suite based on L'Enfant 

prodigue, Op. 46-A, 114 
Symphony, E minor, 12-13, x 9> 5^ 

Andante, 13 
Symphony, G, 7 
Symphony No. 2, D minor, Op. 40, 

99-100, 101, 106, 108, 120, 

146 n, 166-7 
Symphony No. 3, Op. 44, 65 n, 83, 

108-9, 11 4 _1 5' 12 °> 12 4» 

Andante, 108 
Scherzo, 108 
finale, 109 



Symphony No. 4, G minor, Op. 47, 
114, 115, 124, 166, 171, 172 

Symphony No. 5, B-flat, Op. 100, 
169, 170, 171, 173, 183, 184, 

Symphony No. 6, 172 

Tales of the Old Grandmother, Op. 

Ten pieces for piano, Op. 12, 19, 29, 
32, 69, 149 n, 176 
Allemande, 29, 30 n 
Caprice, 29 
Gavotte, G minor, 12, 82, 149 n, 

Legend, 29, 32, 70 
March, F minor, 10, 29 n 
Prelude, 61 n 
Scherzo, A minor, 29, 69 
Ten Russian Folk-songs, 170 
Fly, 170 

Green Grove, The, 171 
Hazelberry, 170-1 
Things in Themselves, piano, Op. 45, 

112, 113, 120 
Thoughts, piano, Op. 62, 112-13, 

120, 144, 146 n 
Three Piano Pieces, Op. 59, 112, 119, 
146 n, 150 
Promenade, 112 
Landscape, 112, 150 
Pastoral Sonatina, 112, 146 n 
Three Pieces for Children, Op. 68, 

1 .3 1 

Three Pieces for piano, from Cinder- 
ella, Op. 95, 164 

Three Pieces for piano, transcriptions 
from War and Peace and Ler- 
montov, Op. 96, 164 

Three Songs to Pushkin's words, Op. 

73> !33-4 
Pine Trees, 1 3 3—4 
Toccata, Op. 11, 28, 69 
Tonya, music for film, 164 
Trapeze, 100; see also Quintet, Op. 

Two Poems for voice and piano, Op. 

9, 19 n, 70 
There Are Other Planets, 19 n 
Two Sonatinas, piano, E minor and 

G, Op. 54, 112, 146 n 

Ugly Duckling, The, Op. 18, 37-8, 

52, 61 n, 64, 131, 179 n 
Undine, 8, 9 

War and Peace, Op. 91, 140-1, 142, 
164, 165, 170, 173, 174, 177, 
178-83, 188 
Overture, 182-3 

White Quartet, 77, 83, 90 

White Snowflakes, 120 

Yevgeny Onyegin, music for play, Op. 
7 1 ' x 34-5 

Zdravitsa, Op. 85, 61 and n, 138, 143, 
154-5, l88 
"Farewell" episode, 154", 155 
Lullaby, 154 
Song of the Old Woman, 154 


This book was set in Linotype Electra. This face can- 
not be classified as either "modern" or "old style." It is 
not based on any historical model, nor does it echo any 
particular period or style. It avoids the extreme con- 
trast between "thick" and "thin" elements that marks 
most of the "modern" faces, and attempts to give an 
effect of fluidity and speed. 

The book was composed, printed, and bound by The 
Plimpton Press, Norwood, Massachusetts. 



^APK Z 8 


HOV 1 8 j< 



HikH 8 '59 

JA*Oio'l fl \ 

toy 2 1 



"cr 5 1978 

11 1«*i 



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Library Bureau Cat. No. 1137 



3 5002 00343 8954 

Nestev, I. V. 

Sergei Prokofiev, his musical life, 

ML 410 . P865 N48 
Nest ev, I. V. 1911- 
Sergei Prokofiev