Prokofiev was one of the most distinctive and original melodists of the 20th Century. Though a modernist, and capable of writing sharp dissonances, his music is always emotionally accessible, often with an underlying simplicity linked to clear thinking. Some of his Soviet-era works, especially the "official" pieces, have an unfortunate tendency to bombast, of a kind often required by the state.
- Start here: Some of Prokofiev's most popular compositions are the ballet Romeo and Juliet (and its three orchestral suites), the First and Fifth Symphonies, the Third Piano Concerto, the Second Violin Concerto, the "War Sonatas" for piano, the suite of music from the film Lieutenant Kijé, and, of course, Peter and the Wolf.
- Happy ending: The original version of Romeo and Juliet was recently discovered by musicologist Simon Morrison and given its premiere, to choreography by Mark Morris. In this version, the lovers are reunited and do not die. The score is about 15 minutes longer than the revised version and seems unlikely to supplant the beloved, revised score which was given its first performance in 1940.