Saturday, May 2, 2015


"It is the duty of the composer
to serve his fellow man,
to beautify human life and point
the way to a radiant future.
Such is the immutable code
of the artist as I see it."
Sergei Prokofiev playing the piano
"There are still so many beautiful
things to be said in C Major"
С. Прокофьев. Шарж С. Штембер (1916)
С. Прокофьев. Шарж Н. Соколова (1929)

“I played rather well - in any case, jauntily.
My success was rather great and,
I should say, no doubt unexpected.”
"My mother had to explain that one
couldn't compose a Liszt rhapsody
because it was a piece of music
that Liszt himself had composed."
"Formalism is music that people
don’t understand at first hearing."прокофьев/users/nikoluxe/album/485678/view/1037685?type=image
"I strenuously object to 
the very word 'grotesque'
which has become hackneyed
to the point of nausea…
I would prefer my music to be described
as "Scherzo-ish" in quality,
or else by three words describing the
various degrees of the Scherzo –
whimsicality, laughter, mockery.”
"The time is past when music was
written for a handful of aesthetes.
Today vast crowds of people have come
face to face with serious music
and are waiting with eager impatience.
Composers, take heed of this…
But this does not mean that you
must pander to this audience.
Pandering always has an
element of insincerity about it
and nothing good ever came of that."
"My chief virtue (or if you like, defect)
has been a tireless lifelong search
for an original, individual musical idiom.
I detest imitation, I detest hackneyed devices."

Prokofiev by Matisse
“Of course I have used
dissonance in my time,
but there has been
too much dissonance.
Bach used dissonance as
good salt for his music.
Others applied pepper, seasoned
the dishes more and more highly,
till all healthy appetites were sick and
until the music was nothing but pepper.”
"It seemed to me that
had Haydn lived to our
day he would have retained
his own style while
accepting something of
the new at the same time.
That was the kind of symphony
I wanted to write:
a symphony in the classical style.
And when I saw that my idea
was beginning to work,
I called it the Classical Symphony."
Памятник С. Прокофьеву в Челябинске
Sergei Prokofiev. Kielce, Poland. © Adam Zulawski
“I thought with fury of the
wonderful American orchestras
that cared nothing for my music;
of the critics who repeated
for the hundredth time,
'Beethoven is a great composer,'
while balking violently at new works;
of the managers who arranged
long tours for artists 
playing the same hackneyed
programs fifty times over.”
“When the Second World War broke out,
I felt that everyone must do his share,
and began composing songs
and marches for the front.
But soon events assumed such
gigantic and far-reaching scope
as to demand larger canvasses.”
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (1891-1953) - Russian composer, pianist and conductor. Photo by Hanna Elkan, 1930s
“The Soviets made me change
Romeo and Juliet so that
it would have a happy ending,
a barbarism, because living people can dance,
but the dead cannot dance lying down.”
“I want nothing better,
more flexible or more
complete than the sonata form,
which contains everything necessary
for my structural purposes.”
"In my view, the composer,
just as the poet, the sculptor or the painter,
is in duty bound to serve Man, the people.
He must beautify life and defend it.
He must be a citizen first and foremost,
so that his art might consciously
extol human life and
lead man to a radiant future."
(In Russian)