Born: 23 April 1891
Died: 5 March 1953 (cerebral hemorrhage)
Birthplace: Sontzovka, Russia
Best known as: Russian composer of Peter and the Wolf
One of the most prolific and celebrated Russian composers of the 20th century, Sergei Prokofiev is perhaps most famous for music he composed for the children's story Peter and the Wolf. He proved his talent as a pianist and composer at a very early age, and in 1904 moved with his mother to St. Petersburg, where he studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. As a young man he traveled to England and Europe on tour, and in 1918 he left Russia for the United States. During the 1920s he toured New York, Chicago, London and Paris, gaining popularity with audiences, if not with critics. In 1927 he returned to perform in the Soviet Union and was greeted as a national hero. In the early 1930s he travelled between Paris and Moscow, finally settling in Moscow in 1936. A few years later, World War II marked the beginning of Prokofiev's rocky relationship with the Soviet government of Joseph Stalin. Although he continued to be a productive composer, in the late 1940s Prokofiev fell out of favor with government officials and spent his last years in failing health and financial insecurity.
His works include the ballets Chout and The Love for Three Oranges, operas such as The Fiery Angel and War and Peace (based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy) and music for the Sergei Eisenstein films Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1942-46). Modern audiences know Prokofiev's work primarily through the many symphonic suites he composed based on his stage and film work.
Extra credit: His birthdate is sometimes given as 11 April 1891, the date based on the Julian calendar prior to the Soviet Union adopting the Gregorian calendar... Prokofiev died on the same day as Stalin.
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