The Last Symphony?

Richard Taruskin

in On Russian Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942806 | DOI:
The Last Symphony?

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This chapter examines the fifth symphony of Sergey Prokofieff, which is perhaps the best evidence for his contribution to European classical music, since it is the most recent traditional “numbered” symphony to be an indisputable part of a repertory wherever “Western” classical music is played. Composed in the summer of 1944, when the tide of World War II had turned decisively, it was a victory celebration. Prokofieff called his fifth symphony “a symphony about the grandeur of the human spirit.” Its greatest technical achievement, as well as its most moving expressive effect, is the way in which that dissonance is gradually resolved and brought to optimistic repose. It is quite true that an optimistic ending was a Soviet requirement. Prokofieff's fifth symphony proves that an imposed style may nevertheless be a beautiful style, worn with sincerity and deployed with mastery.

Keywords: Sergey Prokofieff; European classical music; Prokofieff's fifth symphony

Chapter.  2322 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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