Introduction to the composer’s background
4. Aged fived Prokofiev composed his first piece for piano, an Indian Galop so named after overhearing grown-up talk about a famine in India.
Composed The Giant, an opera in three Acts for solo piano when he was nine.
Learned piano from his mother and loved to improvise.
He left in 1918 to New York. When he was in the US, he had many misfortunes. Whenever he was about to give a concert, something would happen like the death of the director of the Love for Three Oranges. He struggled financially and was on the edge of living.
So he did not want to return to Russia as a failure, so he went to Paris.
Prokofiev believed, “that an artists work becomes provincial if he never leaves his homeland and tries to exclude every foreign influence...he saw Europe as an opportunity to enrich his music.” (Hanson)
In the 1930s he started to miss his country and wanted to return home.
1938 - Permanently moved back to the Soviet Union (Of course there are many other theories of why he returned)
He had a stubborn personality and it developed ever since he was young. This was said of Prokofiev. Samuel(Prokofiev) : “More than anything he loved to improvise in front of his parents’ friends, but they had to listen, or he would stop abruptly and leave the piano for good – a small flash of temperament from the great artist to come, who was always to retain a somewhat pernickety disposition.
5.5 Both Prokofiev and Shostakovich were monstrous composers. These two quotes will hopefully give you an idea of what kind of composers they were.
Shostakovich said this about Prokofiev, “it was impossible for him...not to compose every day, and the days when he had to “rest” were for him the most painful ones. “
This is the other quote Rabinovich said of Shostakovich: He quoted Shostakovich “The music surged out of me, I could not hold it back,”
He simply could not tear himself away from the score he had begun. He did not leave his writing desk even during air raids. (DS Composer.)
8. So today I’m mainly going to talk abut the pieces they wrote during the wartime. They were asked to write music for propaganda.
What did Prokofiev write
So out of all the music the can write, why did he write a sonata during this time.
In fact he wrote sonatas (3 for the piano and 2 for the violin)
The last sonata he wrote before the war was in 1923 when he married his wife Lina. He composed this in Paris.
He wrote Sonatas when he really wanted to express what he was feeling at the time. He felt closest to piano and it’s the instrument that he begun and grew up with and one that he felt most comfortable expressing himself with.
9. What did Shostakovich write – symphony – Shostakovich also grew up with the piano but how come he didn’t write a piano work?
Shostakovich also grew up with the piano but he didn’t compose sonatas but instead symphonies.
“Mother established the rule at home that as soon as her children reached the age of nine they were given piano lessons. That was the fate of my two sisters, and it was mine, too. Our mother gave us lessons for the first year. My lessons were a great success: I fell in love with the piano and with music.” (AHAHT85)
Sofia Moshevich even wrote a whole book just on Shostakovich as being one of the greatest pianist in his generation.
Why did Shostakovich compose Symphony?
B/c he needed something that really represented how he felt at the time.
He felt most comfortable expressing himself with symphony.
Rabinovich said - Shostakovich thinks in terms of the orchestra. For him “Orchestration” is not a subsequent procedure to give timbre and colour to a…