Prokofiev – Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19

by Max Derrickson

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Opus 19

Sergei Prokofiev’s childhood was idyllic and somewhat privileged. As his musical talents grew, he ventured forth into aRussiathat was forging wildly new artistic paths. His career, however, took him away fromRussiaduring the 1920’s, toParis,Japan, and theUnited States. Though during this period his works almost always met with sharp criticism from some critics, Prokofiev seemed to rise above it. In fact, he seemed to draw creative energy out of shocking the critics. As one of his colleagues described him, Prokofiev seemed always to hold a naïveté about the world, and his confidence in himself was unshakable.

While Prokofiev was away, his homeland was changing drastically. He was not destined for expatriotism, for in 1933 theSoviet Union called him home. Sponsored by the State and living in comfort, he was treated to an extended homecoming, numerous commissions, and continuing success.
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Prokofiev wrote his first violin concerto in 1916-17, just before the Bolshevik Revolution, in a serene setting outsideSt. Petersburg. The Concerto’s structure is the opposite of the traditional concerto. In Prokofiev’s work, two tranquil movements frame a robust middle scherzo. He wrote the concerto at the same time as his First (Classical) Symphony—his two first attempts to compose away from the keyboard. For the concerto,
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