Sergei Prokofiev Quotes

Sergei Prokofiev can be easily considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. He was born in the Russian Empire and became one of the Soviet Union’s best-known composers. His works include the ballet Romeo and Juliet and the music for Eisenstein’s film Alexander Nevsky.

“I detest imitation, I detest hackneyed devices.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“There are still so many beautiful things to be said in C major.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“My mother had to explain that one couldn’t compose a Liszt rhapsody because it was a piece of music that Liszt himself had composed.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“I want nothing better, more flexible or more complete than the sonata form, which contains everything necessary for my structural purposes.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“My chief virtue (or if you like, defect) has been a tireless lifelong search for an original, individual musical idiom. I detest imitation, I detest hackneyed devices.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“Formalism is music that people don’t understand at first hearing.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“I strenuously object to the very word “grotesque” which has become hackneyed to the point of nausea…I would prefer my music to be described as “Scherzo-ish” in quality, or else by three words describing the various degrees of the Scherzo – whimsicality, laughter, mockery.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“I played rather well – in any case, jauntily. My success was rather great and, I should say, no doubt unexpected.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“Of course I have used dissonance in my time, but there has been too much dissonance. Bach used dissonance as good salt for his music. Others applied pepper, seasoned the dishes more and more highly, till all healthy appetites were sick and until the music was nothing but pepper.”” – Sergei Prokofiev

“I have never doubted the importance of melody. I like melody very much, and I consider it the most important element in music, and I labour many years on the improvement of its quality in my compositions.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“In my view, the composer, just as the poet, the sculptor or the painter, is in duty bound to serve Man, the people. He must beautify life and defend it. He must be a citizen first and foremost, so that his art might consciously extol human life and lead man to a radiant future. Such is the immutable code of art as I see it.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“I thought with fury of the wonderful American orchestras that cared nothing for my music; of the critics who repeated for the hundredth time, ‘Beethoven is a great composer,’ while balking violently at new works; of the managers who arranged long tours for artists playing the same hackneyed programs fifty times over.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“When the Second World War broke out, I felt that everyone must do his share, and I began composing songs and marches for the front. But soon events assumed such gigantic and far-reaching scope as to demand larger canvasses.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“The time is past when music was written for a handful of aesthetes. Today vast crowds of people have come face to face with serious music and are waiting with eager impatience. Composers, take heed of this…But this does not mean that you must pander to this audience. Pandering always has an element of insincerity about it and nothing good ever came of that.” – Sergei Prokofiev

“It seemed to me that had Haydn lived to our day he would have retained his own style while accepting something of the new at the same time. That was the kind of symphony I wanted to write: a symphony in the classical style. And when I saw that my idea was beginning to work, I called it the Classical Symphony.” – Sergei Prokofiev

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