PROKOFIEV Alexander Nevsky
film with live accompaniment WEBSITE
NEAL GITTLEMAN conductor WEBSITE
RYU-KYUNG KIM mezzo-soprano WEBSITE
DAYTON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
DAYTON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA CHORUS
HANK DAHLMAN director, DPO Chorus WEBSITE
The new year brings a new event to the Schuster Center: the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus will perform Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky as an accompaniment to the screening of the film of the same name.
Born in Russia in 1891, composer and pianist Sergei Prokofiev was a musical prodigy. He had composed a waltz, a march, and a rondo at age six and within a few years was composing music to accompany stories that he had written. By age thirteen, Prokofiev was enrolled at the St. Petersburg Conservatory to study musical composition. In 1914, he began traveling, first to Paris and later to America. While in the United States, he was in high demand as a pianist. However, Prokofiev obtained few commissions, probably because of artistic differences; he found American music to be conservative. He stayed in the United States until 1934 when he returned to the Soviet Union, choosing to resettle there even though the country was under Stalin’s rule.
Once he returned to his homeland, Prokofiev received many commissions for ballets and film. He wrote the film score for Sergei Eisenstein’s 1938 film Alexander Nevsky. Eisenstein believed in the communist political agenda and was an important filmmaker for the communist regime. True to Stalin’s policy of glorifying Russian heroes, Alexander Nevsky retells the medieval epic of Prince Alexander. In 1242, Pope Gregory IX sent Teutonic Knights to invade the Baltic region of Russia. Alexander and his men lay in wait for the invaders and defeated them in the “Battle on the Ice.” The instrumental and choral music in this score was Prokofiev’s best work from his time composing under Soviet rule. Following the film, Prokofiev adapted the score into a cantata by the same name.