Saturday, April 30, 2011

Serge Prokofiev's 120th

I wanted to write something about the 120th anniversary of Russian composer Serge Prokofiev's birth back on April 23rd, when it occurred, but got too busy.

Surprisingly, Prokofiev is the most played 20th century composer after Richard Strauss. Strauss had a much longer career, but Prokofiev was more influential. His melodic gifts and sense of irony were among the greatest in the history of Western music.

Perhaps his most melodic longer work is the ballet, written between 1940 and 1945, Cinderella, which is a comedic masterpiece, portraying the stepsisters and stepmother as less ruthless, more idiotic or crazed, than most versions of the fairy tale.

Here's the dynamic ballerina Alina Cojocaru as Cinderella, with Johan Koburg, in the second act Pas de Deux, also known as "Cinderella and the Prince," from a 2003 Royal Ballet production:

In two weeks, I'll be conducting the Anchorage Civic Orchestra in Prokofiev's most popular work for young people, Peter and the Wolf, with Shannyn Moore as narrator. Here's our poster:

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