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Prokofiev, Sergei

1891 - 1953


Russian composer whose musical imagination and dynamic rhythms made him important for the development of Russian and modern music. He is considered one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. He was also an accomplished pianist and conductor.

Prokofiev attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1904 to 1914. Like other great composers he mastered a wide range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces.

At the time, his works were considered both ultra-modern and innovative. He traveled widely, spending many years in Paris and in the Bavarian Alps, and toured the United States five times. He gained wide notoriety and his music was both reviled and triumphed by the musical press of the time.

He returned to his homeland permanently in 1936.

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Dimitri
Shostakovich

1906 - 1975


Russian composer renowned for his brilliant symphonies. His daring and experimental style brought him often in conflict with authorities.

Shostakovich was born in St.Petersburg. He entered the Petrograd Conservatory and graduated in 1925 with his First Symphony. Its triumphant premiere in 1926 was followed by performances in Europe and the USA.

After fierce and public criticism in 1936, apparently instigated by Stalin himself, he changed direction and his output became predominately for the concert hall.

Among a vast mass of orchestral, chamber and vocal music his two cycles of 15 symphonies and 15 string quartets stand supreme.

His Seventh symphony, written during the Siege of Leningrad, became a symbol of the wartime struggle throughout the Allied world.

In 1948 Shostakovich was violently criticised and humiliated at the Soviet Composers' Congress. As in 1938 he became persona non grata. His works were banned and he was politically and artistically isolated.

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