Press Room

See what they're saying about us.
Main Image for Press Room

19th Annual Bard Music Festival "Prokofiev and His World"

Mark Primoff


"Part boot camp for the brain, part spa for the spirit" – New York Times

Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. – The last two weekends of Bard SummerScape 2008 will feature the world-renowned Bard Music Festival, returning in its 19th annual season for an exploration of "Prokofiev and His World." The eleven summer programs of the Bard Music Festival will take place over two weekends on August 8–10 and August 15–17, to be followed by an autumn finale featuring two additional programs (October 24 and 25).

"Prokofiev and His World" offers the first close examination of Prokofiev's life and career since the historical archives, left behind in Russia at his death, were partially opened in 2003. In addition to performance of numerous works by Prokofiev and many of the composers who influenced him – including chamber, orchestral, and choral works and film music – the Bard Music Festival will once again offer a bountiful array of preconcert talks, panel discussions, a volume of scholarly writings, and a symposium. The Bard Music Festival has won international acclaim for its unrivaled, in-depth exploration of the life and works of a single composer and his contemporaries, offering, in the words of one New York Times critic, a "rich web of context" for a full appreciation of that composer's inspirations and impact. Leon Botstein will conduct the resident American Symphony Orchestra for the main orchestral programs, and many of the concerts and other events will take place in the beautiful Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Bard's glorious Hudson Valley campus.

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953) became, along with his countrymen Stravinsky and Shostakovich, a towering figure in 20th-century music. Though all three composers were educated in Russia, each took a very different path to worldwide fame. Like Stravinsky, Prokofiev went to the West and lived and worked in France and the United States (Shostakovich remained in his home country). But unlike Stravinsky, Prokofiev returned to his homeland in the 1930s, to live out one of the most productive periods of his career in Stalin's Russia. Though some of Prokofiev's scores – such as his ballet Romeo and Juliet, some of his concertos, and Peter and the Wolf – have achieved enormous popularity, many of his works and much about the man remain relatively unknown. "Prokofiev and His World" offers an important opportunity to reassess and rediscover a composer of remarkable range and striking originality, charting a thrilling creative journey from Prokofiev's early years in St. Petersburg to the dazzling art scene of 1920s Paris, and back to a Russia increasingly transformed by totalitarianism.

Prokofiev's contemporaries and many composers who influenced him are represented in the concert programs of the Bard Music Festival: Russia's Glazunov, Glière, Kabalevsky, Khachaturian, Myaskovsky, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, Shcherbachyov, Shebalin, and Stravinsky; those Prokofiev knew in his Paris years, such as Satie, Honegger, Poulenc, Ravel, Milhaud, Tailleferre, and Auric; and others influenced by Prokofiev in turn. A song recital with works by George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Vernon Duke will show how American popular song was taken as an inspiration for a new Soviet popular culture.

Panel discussions at the Bard Music Festival will focus on Prokofiev's life and works, his film music, religion and spirituality in music and, in the fall, art and dictatorship. Programs will explore a wide range of fascinating themes such as "From Broadway to Gorky Street," which demonstrates the links between Russian popular music and America's Tin Pan Alley. Indeed, the Gershwins' popular show, Of Thee I Sing – a witty and timely political romp – will be given its last three SummerScape performances during the first weekend of Bard Music Festival, on August 8, 9, and 10. Screenings of Sergei Eisenstein's immortal films Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and II are also scheduled.

Weekend One (August 8–10), themed "From East to West," opens on Friday, August 8 at 7:30 pm with a preconcert talk by Leon Botstein, and an all-Prokofiev program by the Chiara String Quartet with several guest artists, including pianist Jeremy Denk, a faculty member of The Bard College Conservatory of Music, and members of the American Symphony Orchestra under Leon Botstein's baton. The weekend closes with a family-friendly concert: "The Cult of the Child" – a late-afternoon program in which Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Poulenc's Babar are joined by Ravel's "Mother Goose" Suite, Satie's Gymnopédies, and John Alden Carpenter's Krazy Kat, which was inspired by a legendary comic strip.

Weekend Two (August 15–17), "The Faustian Pact," covers Prokofiev's world from 1939 onward, opening on Friday, August 15 at 10 am with the first part of a Symposium led by Jonathan Becker, who will moderate a panel in a discussion of "Stalin and Stalinists." Part Two begins at 1:30 pm, and the evening's concert, at 8 pm, will present works by Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky, among others. The finale of Weekend Two is a late-afternoon concert of exoticism – "20th-Century Russia: Nostalgia and Reality" – with Prokofiev's Egyptian Nights contrasted with his Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution, and Epitaph by Vladimir Dukelsky (aka Vernon Duke), followed Rachmaninoff's Three Russian Songs.

Weekend Three (October 24-25) explores "Prokofiev in America and Russia," opening with a preconcert talk by scholar Christopher H. Gibbs and a concert by Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra featuring Prokofiev's Waltz Suite, the March and Scherzo from The Love for Three Oranges, his monumental Symphony No. 5, along with John Alden Carpenter's rarely performed Violin Concerto. The next day offers a panel discussion on "Art and Dictatorship" and an afternoon concert of music by Prokofiev and Stravinsky, performed by faculty and students of The Bard College Conservatory of Music.

Companion Volume: A special highlight of each year's Bard Music Festival is the publication of a volume of new scholarship and interpretation relating to the featured composer and his world, by Princeton University Press. Simon Morrison, scholar in residence for the 2008 festival, is editor of Prokofiev and His World, the 19th in the award-winning series. Mr. Morrison is the scholar who found Prokofiev's original version of Romeo and Juliet, which is being given its world premiere on the opening night of Bard SummerScape, July 4, choreographed by Mark Morris.

Critical acclaim: Reviewing the final weekend of the 2006 Bard Music Festival, the New York Times reported, "As impressive as many of the festival performances were, they were matched by the audience's engagement: strangers met and conversed, analyzing the music they'd heard with sophistication, and a Sunday-morning panel discussion of gender issues in 19th-century culture drew a nearly full house. All told, it was a model for an enlightened society." Assessing last summer's tribute to Edward Elgar on the 150th anniversary of his birth, BBC Music magazine credited Bard with offering "the largest, most obsessively-detailed Elgar festival anywhere in the world."


WEEKEND ONE – AUGUST 8–10: From East to West


program one – From Russia and Back: The Career of Sergey Prokofiev
Sosnoff Theater
7:30 pm Preconcert Talk: Leon Botstein
8:00 pm Performance: Chiara String Quartet; Jeremy Denk, piano; John Hancock, baritone; Soovin Kim, violin; Irina Mishura, mezzo-soprano; members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and others

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Suggestion diabolique from Four Pieces, Op. 4 (1910–12)
Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25, "Classical" (1916–17)
Five Poems by Anna Akhmatova, Op. 27 (1916)
March, from The Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33ter (1922)
Five Melodies, Op. 35bis (1925)
String Quartet No. 1 in B Minor, Op. 50 (1930)
Two Songs, from Lieutenant Kijé, Op. 60bis (1934)
Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34bis (1919; orch. 1934)
Sonata No. 7, in B-flat Major, for piano, Op. 83 (1939–42)
Tickets: $20, $35, $45

Please note that the Spiegeltent will be closed to dining on Friday, August 8, to accommodate the Bard Music Festival Gala Benefit.


panel one – Prokofiev: The Man and His Music
Olin Hall
10:00 am–noon
Caryl Emerson, moderator; Marina Frolova-Walker; David Nice; Harlow Robinson
Free and open to the public

program two – Before Emigration: Teachers and Influences
Olin Hall
1:00 pm Preconcert Talk: David Nice
1:30 pm Performance: Michael Abramovich, piano; Chiara String Quartet; Jeremy Denk, piano; Dina Kuznetsova, soprano; Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano; Sophie Shao, cello; Bard Festival Chamber Players

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Visions fugitive, Op. 22 (1915–17)
Two Poems, Op. 9 (1910–11)
Reinhold Glière (1875–1956)
Ballad, Op. 4 (1902)
Aleksandr Glazunov (1865–1936)
String Quintet in A Major, Op. 39 (1891-92)
Nicolai Tcherepnin (1873–1945)
Six Quartets for Four French Horns (1910)
Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
Three Movements from Petroushka, for piano (1921)
Piano works by Sergey Taneyev (1856–1915) and Nicolas Medtner (1880–1951)
Tickets: $35

program three – The Silver Age: Mystic Symbols
Sosnoff Theater
7:00 pm Preconcert Talk: Simon Morrison
8:00 pm Performance: Blair McMillen, piano; Scott Williamson, tenor; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10 (1911–12)
They Are Seven, cantata after Bal'mont, Op. 30 (1917–18; rev. 1933)
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 44 (1928)
Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908)
Sadko, tone poem, Op. 5 (1891–92)
Anatoly Lyadov (1855–1914)
The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62 (1909)
Aleksandr Scriabin (1871–1915)
Le poème de l'exstase, Op. 54 (1905–08)
Joseph Achron (1886–1943)
Epitaph, in Memory of Aleksandr Scriabin (1915) (world premiere)
Tickets: $25, $40, $55

Alexander Nevsky, August 7 at 7:00 pm; August 9 at 5:00 pm
Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and II, August 10 and 14 at 7:00 pm
All films are screened at the Jim Ottaway Jr. Film Center in the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center.
Tickets: $8


panel two – Prokofiev and Composing for Film
Olin Hall
10:00 am–noon
Simon Morrison, moderator; Kevin Bartig; Caryl Emerson; Joan Neuberger
Free and open to the public

program four – The Paris Years
Olin Hall
1:00 pm Preconcert Talk: Byron Adams
1:30 pm Performance: Bard Festival Chamber Players; Amy Burton, soprano; Philip Edward Fisher, piano; Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano; Robert Martin, cello; Anna Polonsky, piano

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Quintet in G Minor, Op. 39 (1924) (Trapèze)
Erik Satie (1866–1925)
From Sports et divertissements (1914)
Arthur Honegger (1892–1955)
From Le cahier romand (1921–23)
Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)
Trio, Op. 43 (1926)
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
Chansons madécasses (1926)
Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
Octet (1922–23)
Darius Milhaud (1892–1974)
From Le train bleu, Op. 84 (1924; arr. Milhaud)
Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983)
Chansons françaises (1930)
Georges Auric (1899–1983)
Trio in D Major (1938)
Tickets: $35

program five – The Cult of the Child
Sosnoff Theater
5:00 pm Preconcert Talk: Mary E. Davis
5:30 pm Performance: Alessio Bax, piano; Lucille Chung, piano; Dina Kuznetsova, soprano; Michael York, narrator; the Bard Festival Ensemble, Eckart Preu, conductor

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67 (1936)
"The Chatterbox" from Three Songs for Children, Op. 68 (1936)
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
Ma mère l'oye (1908–10)
Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)
Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant, Op. 129 (1940–45)
John Alden Carpenter (1876–1951)
Krazy Kat (1921; rev. 1940)
Erik Satie (1866–1925)
Gymnopédies (1888; orch. ?1896, Debussy)
Tickets: $20, $35, $45

WEEKEND TWO – AUGUST 15–17: The Faustian Pact


symposium – Stalin and Stalinists
Multipurpose room, Bertelsmann Campus Center
Part One – 10:00 am–noon
Part Two – 1:30 pm–3:30 pm
Jonathan Becker, moderator; Leonid Maximenkov; Richard Taruskin; and others
Free and open to the public

Prokofiev: The Unfinished Diary, a film by Yosif Feyginberg (2008). Produced by Take 3 Productions Inc. (Canada) and 13 Production (France).
Bertelsmann Campus Center, Weis Cinema, 4:00 pm (repeated Saturday, August 16, 5:00 pm)
Free and open to the public

PROGRAM SIX – White Russians Abroad+
Sosnoff Theater
7:30 pm Preconcert Talk: Rebecca Stanton
8:00 pm Performance: Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
From Ivan the Terrible, Op. 116 (1942–44)
Serge Rachmaninoff (1873–1943)
From All-night Vigil, Op. 37 (1915)
Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
Symphony of Psalms (1930)
Works by Aleksandr Grechaninoff (1864–1956) and Nikolay Obukhov (1892–1954)
Tickets: $20, $35, $45
+ Round-trip transportation by coach from Columbus Circle to the Fisher Center will be provided for this performance. For information, please call 845-758-7900. Reservations required.


program seven – From Broadway to Gorky Street
Olin Hall
10:00 am Performance with commentary by Mitchell Morris, with James Bassi, piano; Jonathan Hays, baritone; Tonna Miller, soprano; and others

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
From Songs of Our Days, Op. 76 (1937)
Songs by Vernon Duke (1909–69); George Gershwin (1898–1937); Jerome Kern (1885–1945); Cole Porter (1891–1964); Isaak Dunayevsky (1900–55); Dmitrii Shostakovich (1906–75); and others
Tickets: $30

program eight – The Return to the U.S.S.R.
Olin Hall
1:00 pm Preconcert Talk: Laurel Fay
1:30 pm Performance: Bard Festival String Quartet; Frederic Chiu, piano; Randolph Bowman, flute; Benjamin Hochman, piano; Erica Kiesewetter, violin

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, Op. 92 (1941)
Sonata in D Major, Op. 94, for flute and piano (1943)
Samuil Feinberg (1890–1962)
Piano Sonata No. 8, Op. 21a (1933–34)
Aram Khachaturian (1903–78)
Song-Poem, "In Honor of an Ashugh" (1929)
Dmitrii Shostakovich (1906–75)
String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73 (1946)
Tickets: $35

program nine – Manufacturing a Soviet Sound
Sosnoff Theater
7:00 pm Preconcert Talk: Richard Taruskin
8:00 pm Performance: Gavriel Lipkind, cello; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Summer Night, Op. 123 (1950)
Symphony-Concerto in E Minor, Op. 125 (1950–51, rev. 1952)
Nikolay Myaskovsky (1881–1950)
Symphony No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 36 (1933)
Vissarion Shebalin (1902–63)
Variations on the Russian Folksong "Oh My Field," Op. 30 (1940)
Tickets: $25, $40, $55


panel three – Religion, Spirituality, and Music
Olin Hall
10:00 am–noon
Christopher H. Gibbs, moderator; Leon Botstein; Simon Morrison; Maya Pritsker
Free and open to the public

program ten – Formalism: Challenge and Response
Olin Hall
1:00 pm Preconcert Talk: Richard Wilson
1:30 pm Performance: Frederic Chiu, piano; Benjamin Hochman, piano; Sophie Shao, cello; Bard Festival Chamber Players; and others

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Piano Sonata No. 9 in C Major, Op. 103 (1947)
Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello, Op. 134 (unpbl.)
Arias from Semyon Kotko, Op, 81 (1939) and
The Story of a Real Man, Op. 117 (1947–48)
Dmitrii Shostakovich (1906–75)
From 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87 (1950–51)
Dmitrii Kabalevsky (1904–87)
Seven Merry Songs, Op. 41 (1945)
Vladimir Shcherbachyov (1887–1952)
Peter I, suite for string quartet (1943)
Tickets: $35

program eleven – 20th-Century Russia: Nostalgia and Reality
Sosnoff Theater
4:30 pm Preconcert Talk: Christopher H. Gibbs
5:30 pm Dina Kuznetsova, soprano; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Egyptian Nights (1934)
Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution, Op. 74 (1936–37)
Vladimir Dukelsky (Vernon Duke) (1903–69)
Epitaph (1932)
Serge Rachmaninoff (1873–1943)
Three Russian Songs, Op. 41 (1926)
Tickets: $25, $40, $55

WEEKEND THREE – OCTOBER 24–25: Prokofiev in America and Russia


program one – From Chicago to Moscow
Sosnoff Theater
7:00 pm Preconcert Talk: Christopher H. Gibbs
8:00 pm Performance: Mira Wang, violin; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953)
Waltz Suite, Op. 110 (1946)
March and Scherzo, from The Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33 (1921)
Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100 (1944)
John Alden Carpenter (1876–1951)
Violin Concerto (1936)
Tickets: $25, $40, $55


panel – Art and Dictatorship
Olin Hall
10:00 am–noon
Leon Botstein; Simon Morrison; and others
Free and open to the public

program two – The Uneasy Rivalry: Prokofiev and Stravinsky
Olin Hall
2:30 pm Preconcert Talk
3:00 pm Performance: Faculty and students of The Bard College Conservatory of Music

Works by Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953) and Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
Tickets: $25


For tickets and further information on all Bard SummerScape 2008 and Bard Music Festival events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit
# # #

This event was last updated on 08-19-2008