Sergei Prokofiev: A Biography

Overview

The prolific creator of such classic popular works as Romeo and Juliet, Peter and the Wolf, and Cinderella, Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth century.

Drawing on unprecedented access to previously unknown or unavailable Russian-language sources, including extensive archival material, Harlow Robinson traces Prokofiev's extraordinary life from the fairy-tale world of Czarist Russia, through his many years abroad ...

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Overview

The prolific creator of such classic popular works as Romeo and Juliet, Peter and the Wolf, and Cinderella, Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth century.

Drawing on unprecedented access to previously unknown or unavailable Russian-language sources, including extensive archival material, Harlow Robinson traces Prokofiev's extraordinary life from the fairy-tale world of Czarist Russia, through his many years abroad in America and Europe, to his perlexing permanent return to Moscow in 1936 under the Soviet Regime. That Prokofiev died on the very day as Josef Stalin, his principal persecutor, was the final irony of his intense and enigmatic career.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is the best biography in English to date on Prokofiev. Robinson . . . draws upon previously untranslated Russian documents and letters to provide an unusually rich and detailed view of this enigmatic composer.”—Library Journal
From the Publisher
"This is the best biography in English to date on Prokofiev. Robinson . . . draws upon previously untranslated Russian documents and letters to provide an unusually rich and detailed view of this enigmatic composer."--Library Journal
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
More detailed and comprehensive, and less politically partisan, than previous biographies, this readable account by a professor of Slavic studies at the State Univ. of New York deals objectively but compassionately with the life and work of a major Russian composer whose career began like a skyrocket but ended sadly. He died in 1953, only hours before the death of his principal persecutor Joseph Stalin. An opinionated, difficult man of genius, the nonpolitical Prokofiev was inevitably caught up in the revolutionary changes that took place in his native land. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1918, to Germany in 1922, married an elegant Spanish soprano, moved on to France and became a sophisticated Parisian. When he returned with his wife and sons to the Soviet Union in 1936, he was almost immediately trapped in a situation from which he could not extricate himself. And although he wrote many works glorifying the regime, he was resented for his international past and connections, his foreign manner and arrogance. As soon as he separated from his wife, she was imprisoned ``on suspicion of spying.'' In 1948 he married a Russian woman with whom he had been living for seven years. Almost until the day he died Prokofiev continued to be productive but was frustrated because his operas failed to win critical and popular acceptance. Photos not seen by PW. March
Library Journal
This is the best biography in English to date on Prokofiev. Robinson, a professor of Slavic studies with a particular interest in Prokofiev's operas, draws upon previously untranslated Russian documents and letters to provide an unusually rich and detailed view of this enigmatic composer. His is a ``warts and all'' treatment: though obviously sympathetic to his subject, Robinson candidly exposes Prokofiev's flaws, from his musical capriciousness and opportunism to his unpardonable social tactlessness. Prokofiev traveled widely during much of his career, and his observations on the contemporary music scene make entertaining reading. Throughout, the writing is intended for the lay readercrisp, fast-paced, and unencumbered by technical jargon. Highly recommended. Larry Lipkis, Music Dept., Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555535179
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 1/24/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 584
  • Product dimensions: 1.31 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

HARLOW ROBINSON is Professor of Modern Languages and History at Northeastern University. He is the author of The Last Impresario: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Sol Hurok and the editor and translator of Selected Letters of Sergei Prokofiev, also published by Northeastern University Press. He is a contributor to the New York Times, Opera News, Dance Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the Metropolitan Opera-Texaco International Radio Network. He lives in the Boston area.
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