Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
IV. Allegro con brio
Approximate Performance Time:
Advanced – appropriate for upper college undergraduates and master students
James Galway & Martha Argerich. Sonata for Flute & Piano in D Major, Op. 94. Sony Music, 2014. MP3.
Lynch, Janet Patricia. “Historical and Descriptive Highlights of Five Works for Flute.” Order No. EP10577 The University of Texas at El Paso, 2003. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.
Sergei Prokofiev, born 1891 in Sontsovka, already had an extensive list of compositions by 1904 (age 13). He joined the St. Petersburg Conservatory, surprising the director, Glazunov, and learned a lot from the then-student composer Myaskovsky. He tried to write an opera as young as nine years of age, but the ones that gained initial traction were The Fiery Angel, War and Peace, and The Love for Three Oranges. Prokofiev wrote a total of seven symphonies, two of which drew elements from his operas, with his fifth being a grandiose classical symphony. He’s also well known for his concertos, particularly his third, along with a wide range of choral and piano music. Prokofiev died in 1953. His day of death coincided with Joseph Stallin’s, and with his residency near the Red Square, the masses mourning Stallin made Prokofiev’s post-mortem arrangements difficult to carry out.
Prokofiev’s Sonata for Flute and Piano Op. 94, is the only flute and piano piece that he has composed. It was written during a time where Prokofiev was sent to a remote location without his family by the Soviet government. This was done in order to protect Russian cultural prospects from German spies. The piece was premiered in Moscow on December 7, 1943. Prokofiev writes the piece in a neo-classical style. The first movement is in sonata form, the Scherzo is in rondo form, the Andante follows a simple ternary form, and the fourth movement is in five-part rondo form. Prokofiev uses tonal harmonies in this composition but employs them in strange, almost sharp progressions with changes that do not necessarily make sense when first heard by the listener.