23rd April 1891
5th March 1953
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. Prokofiev was born in Sontsovka (now Krasne in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine), an isolated rural estate in Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire. He displayed precocious musical abilities by age five. His first piano composition to be written down (by his mother), an 'Indian Gallop', was in the Lydian mode (a major scale with a raised 4th scale degree) as the young Prokofiev felt 'reluctance to tackle the black notes'. By seven he had also learned to play chess. Much like music, chess would remain a passion, and he became acquainted with world chess champions José Raúl Capablanca and Mikhail Botvinnik. At age nine he was composing his first opera, The Giant, as well as an overture and miscellaneous pieces.