Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
October 18
Can You Guess?
In Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, different instruments play the parts of the characters in the story. Can You Guess what instruments play the part of the hunters?
Sorry, no hint today, but shoot! You'll figure it out! Oops, was that a hint?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
1545 - Death of English church composer and organist John Taverner.

1817 - Death of French composer Etienne Mehul in Paris at age 54.

1842 - Emanuel Wirth, German violinist, was born.  Played in Joachim Quartet.

1873 - Premiere of Johannes Brahms' String Quartet in a, Op. 51, no. 2. Joachim Quartet in Berlin.

1887 - Premiere of Brahm's Double Concerto. Brahms conducting, Joachim, violin and Hausmann, cello.

1893 - Death of French composer Charles Gounod in Paris at age 75.

1904 - Premiere of Mahler's Fifth Symphony. Gürzenich Orchestra, Mahler conducting.

1922 - The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was formed to bring information, cultural programming, arts and music to homes in the UK.

1932 - Birth of composer John Biggs.   See his Symphonies at Amazon.

1943 - Premiere of Jerome Moross' Symphony No. 1. Seattle Symphony, Sir Thomas Beecham conducting.

1946 - Premiere of Copland's Third Symphony by the Boston Symphony with S. Koussevitsky conducting. In memory of conductor's wife Natalie.

1961 - Birth of American trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis in New Orleans, LA.

1964 - The Animals began their first U.S. tour.

1966 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience played its debut concert in Paris.

1969 - The Jackson 5 made their U.S. TV debut on ABC's "Hollywood Place."

1990 - Premiere of Elisabetta Brusa's Nittemero Symphony. London Chamber Orchestra, Odaline de la Martinez conducting.

2003 - Premiere of Daniel Catan's Suite from Florencia en el Amazonas. Madison Symphony, John DeMain, conducting in Madison, WI.
Prokofiev displayed great musical ability at an early age.  He was a child prodigy and virtuoso pianist who composed his first opera when he was twelve years old.  In 1902, he started taking private lessons in composition. As soon as he had the necessary theoretical tools he  started experimenting, laying the foundation for his own musical style.

In 1904 he moved to St Petersburg to study at the Academy of Music. Younger than most of his classmates, Sergei was seen as eccentric and arrogant.  His studies bored him.  One of his teachers was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. He also befriended Boris Asafiev and Nikolai Myaskovsky.

In 1909 Sergei completed his composition class, receiving poor grades. He continued studying, concentrating on conducting and piano performance. Although his piano classes did not go well, composition classes did.  His teacher urged him to experiment. His works began to show more depth and intensity.

In 1914 Prokofiev left the academy, this time with the highest marks, for which he received a grand piano. Soon he traveled to London where he met Sergei Diaghilev and Igor Stravinsky.
Sergei Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto in D, was first performed October 18, 1923. Marcel Darrieux was the violinist.

Prokofiev was born in Sontsovka (now the village of Krasne in Donetsk oblast), Russian Empire (now Ukraine) April 23, 1891.  He was an only child. His mother was a pianist and his father an agricultural engineer.

Vengerov plays Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
1891 - 1953
Brahms Quartets
A Good Performance of the Brahms String Quartets and the Piano Quintet by the New Budapest String Quartet
A Very Nice
Prokofiev Violin Concerto
by Maxim Vengerov
Peter and the Wolf
A Good Peter and the Wolf
With the Best Narration
I Have Heard!
Tubby the Tuba
Tubby the Tuba
A Good Story for Kids
with the message
"Sing Your Own Song
No Matter How Small."

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Did You Guess?
timpanis play the part of the hunters "following the wolf's trail and shooting as they went."

By the way, here's a great Peter and the Wolf page!
By 1918, Sergei decided to leave Russia due to political unrest. He saw no room for experimental music. He moved to  the US. Arriving in San Francisco, he began a solo career and signed a contract for a production of his new opera The Love for Three Oranges.  Sadly, the conductor took ill and died, cancelling the premiere.  Sergei had stopped his concerts to write the opera, and was in financial difficulty.  In 1920 Prokofiev went to Paris, which was more open to his modern style.  In 1921 The Love for Three Oranges premiered in Chicago, but was not well received.

By 1927 Prokofiev was receiving commissions and things were looking up.  In 1929 his hands were hurt in a car accident, and he had to rely for a while on his composing.  His operas were being well received in Europe, which opened the US market for him.

In the early 1930s Prokofiev wanted to return to Russia.  He moved many of his premieres there from Paris.  He accepted a commission from Leningrad's Kirov Theater for the ballet Romeo and Juliet.  In 1936 the family moved to Russia. The official policy towards music changed; a bureau was formed to keep track of artists and what they did.  Regulations said what kind of music was allowed. The policy caused Russian composers to be isolated from the rest of the world by limiting outside influences. Prokofiev turned to composing music for children (Three Songs for Children, etc.) and the Cantata for the Twentieth Anniversary of the October Revolution, which was never performed. The premiere of the opera Semyon Kotko was postponed, because the producer was imprisoned and executed.

In 1941 Sergei suffered a heart attack. His health declined.  Due to the war, he and other artists were periodically evacuated south. This had consequences for his family life in Moscow.

The outbreak of war inspired a new opera project, War and Peace. He also wrote film music for Sergei Eisenstein (Ivan the Terrible) and his second string quartet.  In 1944, Prokofiev moved to an estate outside of Moscow, to compose his Fifth Symphony which became his most successful. Shortly after the premiere Sergei suffered a concussion from which he never fully recovered.  It severely lowered his activity in later years.

Prokofiev had time to write his Sixth Symphony and a ninth piano sonata (his last) before the Party suddenly changed its opinion about his music. The end of the war allowed the attention to turn inwards again and the Party saw fit to tighten its reins on domestic artists. Prokofiev's music was now suddenly seen as a grave example of "formalism", and generally dangerous to the Soviet people.

On February 20, 1948 his wife Lina was arrested for trying to send money to her mother in Spain. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but was released after Stalin's death.  That same year, Prokofiev remarried.

His last opera projects were cancelled by the Kirov Theatre and this, in combination with his declining health, caused Prokofiev to retire more and more from the scene. Most of his later compositions were not well received. His last performance was in connection with the premiere of the Seventh Symphony in 1952. He died March 5 1953 (the same day as Stalin).
During World War I, Prokofiev returned to the academy to study organ. He composed an opera based on Dostoyevsky's novel The Gambler, but the 1917 revolution caused the premiere to be canceled.   That year he wrote his first symphony, the Classical.