In the summer, San Francisco finds itself out-of-season in the realm of classical music. But nothing can silence the tens of thousands of instruments in the city, owned and played by some of the most talented musicians in the world. A festival of Prokofiev's music awaits me this month, as well as the entire summer season of the San Francisco Opera. So many rock, hip hop, and electronica concerts will also round up the masses over the next few months, but I tend to always wind up in our vibrant sympony and theater scene. It enraptures me to no end, and as I find more and more friends with these same cultural interests, it adds even more meaning to a lifetime passion of mine.
I have studied Sergei Prokofiev's music since I was an adolescent, and of all composers who touched my life, I would have to say this Russian firebrand has always been the most contiguous in my thoughts. Ironically, I never learned to play any of Prokofiev's piano music, but that gap is something I intend to close sometime later in the year. The irony continues once you realize that he did move to San Francisco in 1918 to escape war and unrest in Russia, but he found little success in the United States. If only I had lived in this fair city back in that day, and if only I could have lent him all the moral support he needed to flourish in the States!
He moved to Paris after a brief stay in New York City and Chicago, and there he finished his Piano Concerto #3, which will be performed in concert this coming Friday! Along with this concerto, we will also get to hear the suite from his troubled opera, The Love for Three Oranges, which he wrote in Chicago in 1919. He was not able to premiere this opera until two years later at the Chicago Opera, because the originally scheduled premiere in was cancelled when the music director who commissioned it died suddenly! And of course, no Prokofiev festival would be complete without his suite from Romeo and Juliet, which will polish off next Friday's concert.
One week later, I will be attending Mozart's masterpiece, Don Giovanni. That I have someone to accompany me to this to this enthralling work is an honor beyond words. And finally, as a bonus that also left me speechless, a dear composer friend, John Bilotta, who just finished writing a comic opera called Quantum Mechanic, dedicated his opera to me.
Connect with your city and all of its music, in your own way. I can only hint to you the rewards you will bring to yourself, and the ways in which you will be enlightened.
Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet, 10 pieces for piano,
# 10: Romeo and Juliet Before Parting