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Serge Prokofieff is a major figure of the 20th century and one of its most popular composers * Studied at St Petersburg Conservatoire with Rimsky-Korsakov and Liadov * Early works gave him reputation as an enfant terrible, firstly due to influence of Scriabin, later because of violent motoric constructivism such as in Scythian Suite * Brilliance as virtuoso pianist demonstrated in series of concertos * Left Russia in 1918 for USA, while compositional career centred on Paris * Stageworks premiered in 1920s included operas The Love for Three Oranges and The Gambler and ballets commissioned by Diaghilev, Chout, Le Pas d'acier and The Prodigal Son * Returned to Russia to recapture roots in 1936, but soon under political attack from cultural commissars * Works from Soviet years among his most celebrated: Peter and the Wolf, opera War and Peace and ballets Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella * Died in 1953, on same day as Stalin * Throughout output, music characterised by sharp wit, memorable melodies, and vivid instrumental colour

Works by Serge Prokofieff include:
Chout (1915, rev.1920) Ballet in six scenes
Classical Symphony (1917)
The Love for Three Oranges (1919) Opera in four acts and a prologue
The Fiery Angel (1919-23, rev.1927) Opera in five acts

"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." — Serge Prokofieff

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