Symphony No. 1 (Prokofiev)

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Sergei Prokofiev began work on his Symphony No. 1 in D major (Op. 25) in 1916, but wrote most of it in 1917, finishing work on September 10.[1] It is written in loose imitation of the style of Haydn (and to a lesser extent, Mozart), and is widely known as the Classical Symphony, a name given to it by the composer. It premiered on April 21, 1918 in Petrograd, conducted by Prokofiev himself,[1] and has become one of his most popular and beloved works.

Background[edit]

The symphony can be considered to be one of the first neoclassical compositions. However, although it was composed in an attempt to emulate the style of Joseph Haydn, it does not do so strictly, and strongly reflects modern compositional practices and Prokofiev's own voice. The work was partly inspired by his conducting studies at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where the instructor, Nikolai Tcherepnin, taught his students about conducting Haydn, among other composers.

Prokofiev wrote the symphony on holiday in the country, using it as an exercise in composing away from the piano. No actual quotations of Haydn are found in the work.[2]

Movements[edit]

The symphony is in four movements, and lasts only about ten to fifteen minutes:

  1. Allegro
  2. Larghetto
  3. Gavotta: Non troppo allegro
  4. Finale: Molto vivace

Instrumentation[edit]

It is scored for a classical period orchestra consisting of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings.[1]

Recordings[edit]

Recordings of this symphony include:

Orchestra Conductor Record Company Year of Recording Format
Boston Symphony Orchestra Serge Koussevitzky RCA Victor 1929 CD
NBC Symphony Orchestra Arturo Toscanini RCA Victor 1951 CD
The Paris Conservatory Orchestra Ernest Ansermet London Records 1964 LP
New York Philharmonic Leonard Bernstein Columbia 1968[3] CD
London Symphony Orchestra Walter Weller Decca 1974 CD
London Symphony Orchestra Vladimir Ashkenazy Decca 1974 CD
London Symphony Orchestra André Previn EMI Classics 1978 CD
Berliner Philharmoniker Herbert von Karajan Deutsche Grammophon 1981 CD
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sir Georg Solti Decca 1982 CD
Scottish National Orchestra Neeme Järvi Chandos 1985 CD
Orchestre National de France Lorin Maazel CBS Masterworks 1985 CD
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (none) Deutsche Grammophon 1987 CD
Orchestre National de France Mstislav Rostropovich Erato 1988 CD
Berliner Philharmoniker Seiji Ozawa Deutsche Grammophon 1989 CD
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra Stephen Gunzenhauser Naxos 1989 CD
Soviet State Orchestra Nikolay Tiomkin Discover The Classics 1990 CD
Philadelphia Orchestra Riccardo Muti Philips Classics Records 1990 CD
Chicago Symphony Orchestra James Levine Deutsche Grammophon 1994 CD
St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra Ravil Martynov Sony 1994 CD
London Symphony Orchestra Valery Gergiev Philips 2004 CD
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine Theodore Kuchar Naxos CD
National Orchestra of the O.R.T.F. Jean Martinon Vox CD
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra Zdeněk Košler Supraphon CD
USSR Ministry of Culture State Symphony Orchestra Gennadi Rozhdestvensky CD/LP
Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra Gennadi Rozhdestvensky Melodiya/Quintessence LP

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Steinberg, Michael. "The Symphony: a listeners guide". p. 429-433. Oxford University Press, 1995.
  2. ^ Listen to Discovering Music from 1:00 to 3:40
  3. ^ Prokofiev - Classical Symphony - Bernstein (back cover). New York Philharmonic. 

External links[edit]