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Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (April 23, 1891 – March 5, 1953) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor who later worked in the Soviet Union. As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous music genres, he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His works include such widely heard pieces as the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet—from which "Dance of the Knights" is taken—and Peter and the Wolf.
A graduate of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Prokofiev initially made his name as an iconoclastic composer-pianist, achieving notoriety with a series of ferociously dissonant and virtuosic works for his instrument, including his first two piano concertos. In 1915, Prokofiev made a decisive break from the standard composer-pianist category with his orchestral Scythian Suite, compiled from music originally composed for a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes.
Prokofiev left Russia for the United States in 1918, and lived there until 1936. During this time, he wrote some of his most famous works, including the ballet The Prodigal Son, the opera The Love for Three Oranges, and the Piano Concerto No. 3.
In 1936, Prokofiev returned to the Soviet Union. He was initially welcomed by the Soviet government, and he was given a number of important commissions, including the opera Semyon Kotko and the ballet Romeo and Juliet. However, the relationship between Prokofiev and the Soviet government became increasingly strained in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Prokofiev's music was criticized for being too Western, and he was accused of being a formalist.
Despite the criticism, Prokofiev continued to compose. He wrote some of his most important works during this period, including the Symphony No. 5, the Piano Concerto No. 5, and the opera War and Peace.
Prokofiev died in Moscow in 1953. He was 61 years old.
Prokofiev's music is characterized by its rhythmic vitality, its melodic richness, and its harmonic daring. He was a master of orchestration, and his music is known for its colorful and dramatic sound. Prokofiev was also a gifted pianist, and his music often reflects his love of the piano.
Prokofiev's music is still performed and enjoyed by audiences around the world. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century, and his work continues to inspire and entertain.