The two Sergeis: giant men, giant pianists, and giant composers whose music has not always gotten the respect it deserves. Rachmaninov’s place in the pantheon of romantic composers is sometimes overshadowed by his status as perhaps the greatest pianist of the recorded era. Prokofiev struggled with emerging modernism before settling into a neoromanticism that has sometimes been considered selling out to his Soviet masters.

Our stylistic comparison will cover their solo piano works – the percussive virtuosity of Prokofiev and the romantic exuberance of Rachmaninov – their symphonies and other works; and their monumental piano concertos. Music literacy is not required.

Syllabus

 

Recommended Books - Rachmaninov & Prokofiev

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Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music (Russian Music Studies) (Paperback)

by Sergei Bertensson (Author), Jay Leyda (Author), Sophia Satina (Author)

Prokofiev’s Piano Sonatas: A Guide for the Listener and the Performer (Hardcover)

by Boris Berman (Author)

Berman has recorded the complete Prokofiev piano sonatas.

Sergei Prokofiev: Materials, Articles, Interviews (Hardcover)

by Vladimir Blok, compiler.

A History of Russian Music: From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar (Paperback)

by Francis Maes (Author) 

“In book 2 of War and Peace Tolstoy transports us to the Russia of our dreams in his delightful account of the hunt in the…”Prokofiev—A Biography: From Russia to the West 1891-1935 (Hardcover)

by 

David Nice

 (Author) 

“All happy families resemble one another, Tolstoy tells us; and well-to-do happy families in the Russian countryside before the Revolution, so countless emigre accounts would…”Rachmaninoff (Master Musicians Series) (Paperback)

by Geoffrey Norris (Author)

Diaries 1915-1923: Behind the Mask

By Sergei Prokofiev

Selected Letters Of Sergei Prokofiev (Hardcover)

by 

Harlow Robinson

 (Editor, Translator)

Sergei Prokofiev: A Biography (Paperback)

by Harlow Robinson (Author)

Rachmaninoff (Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers) (Paperback)

by Robert Walker (Author)

 Resources for Prokofiev's War and Peace

Among Prokofiev’s operas, only Love for Three Oranges enjoys more popularity outside Russia than War and Peace. But there haven’t been terribly many performances — the most recent is the Opera Bastille DVD from 2000. The two outings at the Met (2002 and 2007) weren’t recorded and one must go to YouTube to hear current standouts like Anna Netrebkho and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

YouTube Video

I have added a few of these videos at the bottom of this page.

DVDs and CDs

YouTube Videos

A few highlights from recent productions.

Boris Statsenko performs the complete Napoleon scene (Scene 9)

Dmitri Hvorostovksy and Anna Netrebkho perform Prince Andrei’s death scene (Scene 12). I assume this is taken from the 2002 Met radio broadcast.

Nikita Stotojev performs Kutuzov’s aria in recital:

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