Prokofiev's Piano Sonatas


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A Guide for the Listener and the Performer

Boris Berman

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Boris Berman, renowned concert pianist and teacher, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Sergei Prokofiev. In this book, he draws on his intimate knowledge of Prokofiev’s work to guide music lovers and pianists through the composer’s nine piano sonatas. These cherished works, composed between 1910 and 1951, are today considered an indispensable part of the repertoire of every serious concert pianist.


The book, written with a deep appreciation of Prokofiev’s style and creativity, looks at the sonatas within the context of Prokofiev’s complete oeuvre.  For each sonata, Berman provides general information about the work and a discussion of the composition’s details and features, and in a section entitled “Master Class” he offers suggestions for interpretation and specific advice for performing. Berman also corrects for the first time various misprints in published scores and includes a helpful glossary of musical terms.

Boris Berman is professor of piano, Yale University School of Music, and an internationally renowned concert pianist. He has recorded Prokofiev’s complete works for piano solo on the Chandos Records label. His book Notes from the Pianist’s Bench, published by Yale University Press, was selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title in 2001. He lives in New Haven.


"Berman has a vast knowledge of Russian sources—almost completely unknown in the West—and Russian traditions as well as international experience as a performer. He brings a wealth of new ideas and new information. His new book is invaluable."—Alexander Ivashkin, Centre for Russian Music, Goldsmiths College, University of London

"Having performed and recorded (to acclaim) Prokofiev's piano sonatas, Professor Berman has a unique point of view to offer in writing about one of the twentieth century's most important collections of piano works. An important, personal, and original work."—Boaz Sharon, Professor of Piano, University of Florida

"Drawing from a wide cultural background and vast experience as performer and teacher, Boris Berman has fashioned a remarkable guide to the Prokofiev piano sonatas."—Jerome Lowenthal, The Julliard School

"A lucid and originally conceived book from one of the most respected performers of this music—essential reading for the enquiring listener and the skilled performer alike."—Christopher Elton, Royal Academy of Music, London

"This new book by Boris Berman is a must read for those who care about the music of Prokofiev.  It is a very in-depth guide by someone who has obviously spent many years thinking about and playing the music of this great genius. Bravo to Boris Berman!"—Yefim Bronfman

"In this admirable volume, Boris Berman . . . has addressed two different readerships, more or less simultaneously, with equal success: the serious music lover and the professional pianist. What's more, he is an excellent and commendably economical writer, and . . . a master of concise yet well-rounded biography. Equally concise and illuminating is his succeeding analytical portrait of Prokofiev as a pianist, perceived both from the perspectives of his own time an of subsequent generations."—Alexander Letvin, Piano Magazine

"Berman's book opens up Prokofiev's musical language marvellously. There is a chapter each for all nine piano sonatas, with a general discussion, then a detailed but accessible analysis, then a 'masterclass' with suggestions for performance practice. Berman briefly traverses his life, musical influences, style and context."—Barney Zwartz, The Age (Australia)


"Boris Berman's guide to the Prokofiev Piano Sonatas will undoubtedly become an indiespensable resource for pianists who are performing and teaching these masterful works. . . . Readers will undoubtedly benefit both from this new publication."—Ken Williams, American Music Teacher

"Generous, accurate, and clearly presented."—David Fanning, Slavonic And East European Review Vol.88 No.4
ISBN: 9780300114904
Publication Date: April 24, 2008
256 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
6 b/w illus. + 78 musical examples