"Prokofiev: A Biography" by David Nice

Prokofiev: A Biography From Russia to the West, 1891–1935 David Nice

Publication date:
09 Apr 2003
Yale University Press
416 pages: 235 x 156mm
17 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


This book, the first in-depth biography of Prokofiev since 1987 and the most detailed yet written, is based on fresh discoveries and new archival material.

Since 1991—the year that marked both the fall of the Soviet Union and the centenary of Sergey and birth—a new assessment of the renowned composer's life and work has become both possible and necessary.  In this engrossing book, David Nice draws on a remarkable range of previously unexamined sources to present that reassessment. The book follows Prokofiev's personal and musical progression from his childhood on a Ukrainian country estate to the years he spent traveling in America and Europe as an acclaimed interpreter of his own works.  Nice sheds new light on Prokofiev's early years at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, his departure from Russia in 1918 for what he thought would be a short tour of America, and his marriage and family relationships.  He considers the music of Prokofiev's years in the west (long dismissed by Soviet musicologists as decadent work weakened by the composer's absence from the motherland), moving from the lyricism of his St. Petersburg years to the fresh simplicity of his early Soviet scores.  Nice also examines the complex reasons which led Prokofiev to move his family to the Soviet Union in 1936.  A second volume will cover Prokofiev's life from this period to his death in 1952. 

David Nice is a writer, broadcaster, and lecturer on music, and author of books on Elgar, Tchaikovsky, and Richard Strauss.

?Due to its comprehensiveness, the book is ideal for performers and teachers seeking a broader perspective on Prokofiev?s works.??Kenneth Williams, American Music Teacher

?Nice?s thoroughly researched text offers astute opinions on the early works and on the considerable range of styles available to Prokofiev almost from the start.??Max Harrison, Ham & High

"This is an enormously detailed study, rich with cross-references and assessments: when complete, the series should stand as the definitive work."?Christopher Breunig, Hi Fi News

"David Nice, a London-based musicologist, is to be congratulated on this painstaking work, which brings the Russian composer?s early career splendidly to life."?Ian Thompson, Irish Times (Dublin)

"Prokofiev looks set to become the definitive English text for many years to come."?Bettina Neumann, Piano

?[An] ambitious and abundant biography. . . . The volume is beautifully turned out by Yale University Press, with well-chosen musical examples, photographs, and a List of Works.??Caryl Emerson, The Russian Review

"A fascinating musicological study and a warm and revealing human portrait."?Betty Tadman, The Scotsman

"The narrative combines the qualities of a novel with impeccable descriptions of musical works, revealing many of their beauties. . . . David Nice presents us with a compelling picture of Prokiev's life and times."?Francis Maes, Musicians and the Modern Era

"Prokofiev?A Biography, a well-researched and detailed study, shows Nice's exemplary command of numerous and varied primary sources."?Keith E. Clifton, The Opera Journal