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Sergei Prokofiev: A Biography

The prolific creator of such classic popular works as Romeo and Juliet, Peter and the Wolf, and Cinderella, Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953) was one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth century. In this definitive biography of Prokofiev, Harlow Robinson provides a richly detailed portrait of a man whose complex character, like his music, combined the traditional and the contemporary in odd and unexpected ways.

Drawing on unprecedented access to previously unknown or unavailable Russian-language sources, including extensive archival material, Robinson traces Prokofiev's extraordinary life from the fairy-tale world of Czarist Russia, through his many years abroad in America and Europe, to his perlexing permanent return to Moscow in 1936 under the Soviet Regime. That Prokofiev died on the very day as Josef Stalin, his principal persecutor, was the final irony of his intense and enigmatic career.

'This is the best biography in English to date on Prokofiev. . . . Robinson candidly exposes Prokofiev's flaws, from his musical capriciousness and opportunism to his unpardonable social tactlessness. . . . Throughout, the writing is intended for the lay reader—crisp, fast-paced, and unencumbered by technical jargon. Highly recommended.'
–Library Journal (starred review)

'Robinson explores the darkest corners of this labyrinthine life and brings clarity to some of its more puzzling twists and turns.'
–Carol J. Oja, New York Times Book Review

'Harlow Robinson's biography of the composer is the fullest account to date, a thoughtful study of a puzzling personality in and out of music and a comprehensive history of the East-West cultural curtain as it constrained the life and work of the one major artist who had been active on both of its sides. . .the best-written biography of a modern composer.'
—Robert Craft, Washington Post Book World