Our music for today is the Symphony No. 1 by Prokofiev, known by most musicians as his “Classical” Symphony.
As you can tell by the number of the symphony, this was Prokofiev’s first foray into the world of symphonic music. Unlike what one might expect from Prokofiev given his largely avant-garde tendencies, this symphony is a homage to the great composers of the classical period (Handel, Haydn, Mozart, etc.). The most obvious giveaway is the very classical-sounding melodies that the symphony exhibits. However, Prokofiev took additional pains to make sure this symphony reflected the classical period. For instance, he included a Gavotte as one of the movements, which was a musical style that had long been forgotten about once the 1920’s rolled around. The symphony is written in the typical Classical-era fashion, with a slow movement anchoring in the middle point of the symphony. Furthermore, the symphony is written for a surprisingly small orchestra, which is yet another reflection of a Haydn-era performance.
Despite these Classical pretensions, Prokofiev couldn’t resist incorporating a few of his own touches into the symphony. You’ll occasionally hear some dissonance that reminds you of the music that we usually associate with Prokofiev, and I like to think of those moments as his reminder to the listener to keep in mind that he is still Prokofiev 🙂