Born on April 23, 1891 in Sontsovka, Ukraine of the former Russian Empire, Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev is considered one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. He was also an accomplished pianist and conductor. He attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1904 to 1914, winning the Anton Rubinstein prize for best student pianist when he graduated. Like other great composers he mastered a wide range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces [ed: like his most famous work, Peter and the Wolf]. At the time, his works were considered both ultra-modern and innovative. He traveled widely, spending many years in Paris and Ettal in the Bavarian Alps, and toured the United States five times. He gained wide notoriety and his music was both reviled and triumphed by the musical press of the time. He returned to his homeland permanently in 1936. He died on March 5, 1953 in Moscow.

(short biography courtesy www.prokofiev.org)

The website listed above is a essentially a fan site that has collected everything there is to know about Prokofiev and has even gotten surviving family involved in its growth and maintainance.  Look around for anything you’d like to know about him.

Much information is also available at The Serge Prokofiev Foundation.

The Summer Day Suite comes out of Music for Children, a set of piano pieces that Prokofiev composed in 1935.  As the original title implies, these were written for younger players.  Yet they retain all the character and sophistication that are the hallmarks of his music.  Movements from the set were transcribed into separate suites for orchestra and woodwind quintet, both titled Summer Day.  The band version was created by Goldman Band arranger Erik Leidzen from a selection of those movements in 1948.

And now the videos, which may in fact be the most precious things you will ever see that don’t have to do with kittens.  Since the Summer Day Suite comes from a piano set for children, there are videos of children playing these tunes all over YouTube.  These three have made my cut of having made very few mistakes in their performances.  Enjoy!

I. Waltz

II. Regrets (begins about 1 minute in)

III. March