Prokofiev Symphony No. 5

Prokofiev Symphony No. 5

Update: 2022-06-021


It’s very easy to compare Sergei Prokofiev to Dmitri Shostakovich.  They are the two most famous representatives of Soviet and Russian music of the 20th century, they lived around the same time, and their music even has some similarities, but at their core, you almost couldn’t find more different people than Prokofiev and Shostakovich.  Shostakovich was neurotic, nervous, and timid.  Prokofiev was confident and cool.  Shostakovich was tortured by the Soviet government, and while Prokofiev certainly had his runins with Stalin and his crones , his life wasn’t so inextricably linked to the Soviet Union, besides the fact that he had the bad luck to die on the same day as Joseph Stalin, which made it so that there were no flowers available for his funeral. Prokofiev was able to travel, and see the world, generally without nearly as much interference as Shostakovich faced.  These two lives are reflected in two very different musical approaches.  Shostakovich's wartime symphonies are full of terror and violence, whlie Prokofiev wrote that his 5th symphony was a hymn to the human spirit. We don't know how much that reflects his true feelings, but its undeniable that there is a certain "optimism" to this symphony that both thrills and unsettles listeners to this day. It is also filled with traademark Prokofiev cynicism and sarcasm, and so we are left, as always, with a contradiction. What did Prokofiev mean with this symphony? Join us as we try to find out!








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Prokofiev Symphony No. 5

Prokofiev Symphony No. 5

Joshua Weilerstein