Piano Street Magazine

Enfant Terrible or Childishly Innocent? – Prokofiev’s Complete Piano Works Now on Piano Street

March 13th, 2024 in Piano Street Site News by

In our ongoing quest to provide you with a complete library of classical piano sheet music, the works of Sergey Prokofiev have been our most recent focus. As one of the most distinctive and original musical voices from the first half of the 20th century, Prokofiev has an obvious spot on the list of top piano composers. Welcome to the intense, humorous, and lyrical universe of his complete Sonatas, Concertos, character pieces, and transcriptions!

Sergey Prokofiev - complete piano musicThe music of Prokofiev follows its own, sometimes quite unpredictable logic, while at the same time being full of references to the Classical and Romantic eras. He seems to have always retained something of the fearless, playful, even arrogant approach he displayed as a child. For example, the young Prokofiev refused to touch the black keys, and so wrote a piece in “F major” but without the customary B-flat. At age five, he also composed a “Liszt Rhapsody” on a stave with nine lines and without bars, prompting his mother to give him “a more systematic explanation of the principles of musical notation.”

Prokofiev’s Piano Music – A Very Short Summary

The five Piano Concertos and nine finished Piano Sonatas are among the most important such sets composed in the 20th century, and offer an interesting overview of Prokofiev’s style development (the Sonatas’ opus numbers range from 1 to 135 out of a total of 138 opuses; two more sonatas were left incomplete at his death)

If you prefer smaller-scale pieces, there is also plenty to explore. Particularly recommended are the beautiful Visions Fugitive, a cycle of twenty miniatures, vignette-like, almost aphoristic, with an impressionist feel, and several not-so-terribly difficult. Prokofiev often performed a couple of them as encores at the end of his performances. For something even more accessible, try Music for Children, labeled ‘easy’ by the composer, although in the intermediate range by most standards.

Quite a large portion of Prokofiev’s scores for solo piano are transcriptions of his own orchestral works. The versions for solo piano of pieces from his popular ballet masterpieces belong to this category: there are the Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet, and no less than 19 pieces adapted from the ballet Cinderella, divided into three collections: op 95, op 97, and op 102.

Prokofiev the Pianist

Prokofiev frequently caused scandal with his forward-looking works, but also made his mark as the supreme melodist of the modern era. As a pianist, he could be tempestuous, defiant, with incredible rhythmic energy, and remarkably direct: “Not a single superfluous gesture, not a single exaggerated expression of emotion, no striving for effect” (David Oistrach). At lyrical moments his playing turned “poetic, childishly innocent, astonishingly pure and modest”. (Yakov Milshtein). Thankfully, there are several recordings of Prokofiev playing his own works, both commercially-issued discs and piano rolls, including the 3rd Concerto, selections from Visions Fugitive and the famous Toccata Op. 11.

With Prokofiev’s music entering the public domain in the EU and Canada in 2024 (works published after 1928 remain under copyright in the US), it is now much easier to gain access to his scores; and our Prokofiev page is a great place to begin, with all his published piano pieces available for download. With Piano Street’s AST feature you can also listen to handpicked recordings for each of the 133 pieces, including those made by Prokofiev himself, while studying the sheet music.

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