Th evolutionary catalogue of Prokofiev's works show an extraordinary constancy of purpose. There are no sudden changes of style, no incursions into self-denying classicism or sweeping modernism. There are no recantations, no "returns to Bach." Instead, there is a creative self-assertion.
As a composer, Prokofiev is characterized by extraordinary versatility of style. His particular versatility, though, must be distinguished from that of a composer psych as Igor Stravinsky, whose oeuvre can be divided into several distinct periods. Prokofiev's musical style is more capricious; an examination of any given period of his career shows the coexistence of primitive, sardonic, lyrical, and tragic works.
Unlike a majority of composers during his time, Prokofiev was able to entertain, surprise, shock, and even leave his audiences in disgust with a wide variety of compositional styles, such as his "Classical" Symphony in contrast to "Suggestion Diabolique" for piano solo.
In 1918 Prokofiev left revolutionary Russia for America, and arrived in New York to find himself welcomed as something of a celebrity. He was never very happy in the US, however, and composed little over the next five years, apart from the Third Piano Concerto and the operas The Love for Three Oranges and The Fiery Angel.
From 1932, Prokofiev's visits to Russia became increasingly frequent, and in the spring of 1936 he returned for good. The pieces he composed during this transitional period show a new warmth of expression, and are among his most celebrated works, including Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet, the Second Violin Concerto and Peter and the Wolf.
Prokofiev has a style which is readily identifiable yet difficult to describe. It certainly demonstrates some of the base instincts also exhibited by Stravinsky. Although not as bitterly sarcastic as the music of Shostakovich, Prokofiev also used satire in his music. Most of all though, his music seems to obey its own rules which are entirely logical without being overly predictable. It obeyed normal musical conventions, while allowing itself to jump off at tangents from time to time.
Sergio Prokofiev is probably the most popular Russian composer after Tchaikovsky. Best known for the musical children's tale "Peter and the Wolf" he created works in most genres - symphonic, opera, ballet, chamber music and solo piano.
[Prokofiev's] music is unmistakable after a few bars. For a start, his novel harmonic and melodic ideas are quite idiosyncratic: perhaps he’ll begin with a banal little tune and then suddenly have it leap up an unexpected interval; he uses orthodox chords in unorthodox relations and, equally markedly, he is witty - not in the elegant French way, but ironic and sardonic. Many of his early works are self-consciously mocking traditions in much the same way that ‘Les Six’ were to do. Some of the music is intentionally dissonant and aggressive - some of it is physically violent to perform - but it never abandons tonality completely
Against the established thinking of the Conservatoire, Prokofiev became a committed anti-Romantic, not liking the music of Chopin and Liszt. In 1914, despite not playing one of the prescribed Classical concertos, he won the Rubenstein Prize for piano performance playing his own composition.
Sergey Prokofiev perhaps contributed more new music to the standard ‘classical’ repertory than any of his contemporaries. Yet he remains a difficult figure to pin down. Born and raised in Tsarist Russia, he established himself as a musical enfant terrible in the years before the Revolution, cultivating novel dissonances while still a student pianist-composer at the St Petersburg Conservatory.