War and Peace (Prokofiev)

War And Peace (Prokofiev)

War and Peace (Prokofiev)

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War and Peace (Op. 91) (, Voyna i mir) is an opera in two parts (an Epigraph and thirteen scenes), sometimes arranged as five acts, by Sergei Prokofiev to a Russian libretto by the composer and Mira Mendelson, based on the novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Although Tolstoy's work is classified as a novel, the 1812 invasion of Russia by the French was based on real-life events, and some real-life people appear as characters in both the novel and the opera, e.g. Prince Mikhail Kutuzov and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Composition history

Mendelson and Prokofiev's original scheme for the libretto of the opera envisaged eleven scenes, and Prokofiev began composing the music in the summer of 1942, spurred on by the German invasion of the Soviet Union which began on June 22, 1941. The description "lyric-dramatic scenes" in the libretto accurately suggests both a homage to Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and an emphasis on individuals and their emotions rather than on the bigger picture of a country at war.

A piano score was completed by the summer of 1942 (two scenes having been changed from the original version), and it was submitted to the Soviet Union's Committee on the Arts. The Committee demanded that the Part 2 (War) scenes needed a more patriotic and heroic emphasis. Prokofiev, who had wanted to see his masterpiece staged as quickly as possible, added marches, choruses, and other materials to Part 2 to satisfy the committee. In addition, he composed the choral Epigraph,...
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