Diaghilev rejected Prokofiev's ballet Ala and Lolli (1914), which was based on themes from old Slavic folklore. Prokofiev then rearranged the piece into the Scythian Suite for orchestra. This work was performed for the first time in Moscow by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski in 1916.
In 1919, Diaghilev commissioned another ballet from Prokofiev called The Love of Three Oranges. This ballet was not successful and has never been revived. However, in 2008, a new production of Three Oranges was staged by the Kirov Ballet with Maria Tymoczko as the title role. This version used some changes to the original script and added scenes not included in the 1919 version.
In 1921, Diaghilev commissioned one more ballet from Prokofiev called The Tale of the Nut-Tree. This ballet was a great success and has been revived several times since its creation. The latest revival was in 2014 when it was performed by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House in London.
Prokofiev also wrote two symphonies, three piano concertos, various choral works, songs, and instrumental pieces.
Sergei Prokofiev, a Russian composer, was a titan of twentieth-century music. Ballets (including Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet) and cinema music (including Lieutenant Kije and Alexander Nevsky) were among his works. He also had a significant impact on the development of jazz and rock music.
Prokofiev was born in 1891 into a wealthy family who owned land near Vladimir, then part of the Russian Empire. He showed an early interest in music and at the age of seven began studying piano with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, one of Russia's leading composers. In 1909, when he was only twenty years old, Prokofiev composed his first original work, a Piano Sonata. The following year, he started study with Sergei Taneyev, another important Russian composer. Taneyev influenced Prokofiev greatly and they became good friends. In 1914, when World War I broke out, Prokofiev went to Berlin where he studied with Paul Hindemith and Arnold Schoenberg for three years. Upon his return to Russia in 1917, he became involved in the revolutionary movement and later that year was appointed director of the Moscow Conservatory. In 1922, he was made chief conductor of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Society and two years later was made chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
10. By the time he graduated from the school in 1914, Prokofiev had already been traveling in Europe and had made relationships with giants like Diaghilev, whose early ballet collaborations with Prokofiev were Ala and Lolly and The Buffoon (Chout, 1922). Although Prokofiev wanted to be a composer too, his teacher advised him to become involved in dance instead so as not to ruin his talent. So beginning in 1915, he went to study under Lev Ivanov at the Moscow Conservatory where he learned about modern music techniques.
Prokofiev decided to quit his job as an accountant to devote himself fully to music. He was fortunate enough to have many opportunities present themselves to him. In 1919, one of his pieces was performed by a famous orchestra led by Leopold Stokowski who was then conducting concerts in Russia. They even asked Prokofiev to come and work with them in Berlin but he refused because he didn't want to live abroad. Instead, he chose to stay in Russia where he felt more comfortable. Many people believed that Communism would destroy music so it was important for young musicians to remain in Russia where they could learn from master composers like Prokofiev. However, Communism didn't affect Prokofiev's work at all; on the contrary, it helped him develop his own style.
Cleopatre (1909), Scheherazade (1910), L'Apres-midi d'un Faune (1912), Le Carnaval (1910), and Le Spectre de la Rose (1911) are among these ballets. Diaghilev's nurture of dancers and choreographers was vital to the success of the Ballets Russes. He trained many of the greatest ballet masters including Marius Petipa, Alexander Godounov, George Balanchine, and Leonid Yakobson.
Diaghilev commissioned dances from various sources. The composers included Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Sergei Prokofiev. These scores were then set to music by various artists including Paul Dessau, Louis Krasner, and Aram Khachaturian. The original drawings for some of these compositions can be seen in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
Diaghilev also commissioned artists to paint pictures for the ballet. These include Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso. The costumes for most of these productions were designed by Nicholas Roerich or Mikhail Larionov.
The first ballet performed by the Ballets Russes was entitled "L'Après-midi d'un Faune".