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Serge Prokofiev Archive, circa 1899-2012

Summary Information

At a Glance

Title:Serge Prokofiev Archive, circa 1899-2012
Physical description:294 linear feet
Language(s):Russian, English, French, German


Material is arranged in ten series with several subseries.


Scope and Content

Serge Prokofiev (1891–1953) was a Russian and Soviet composer, pianist and conductor, and seminal figure in the history of twentieth-century music. The Serge Prokofiev Archive (SPA) contains 58 original music manuscripts and approximately 12,000 letters and documents primarily from 1918-1936, the years Prokofiev spent in the West. The SPA also includes an expansive collection of music manuscript copies, published scores, concert programs, scholarly books and articles, photographs, and audio and video material, making it the premier research collection for studying Prokofiev's life, work and legacy

Constituted in successive stages, this impressive collection was gathered by Prokofiev himself, members of his family, and individuals dedicated to the composer's oeuvre. The core consists of Prokofiev's compositions, writings and records from his prolonged stay in the West - mainly the United States, France, and Germany - from 1918 to 1936. It includes 58 manuscript scores, drafts, sketches and notes for works such as Symphony Nos. 3 and 4, his operas The Gambler and The Fiery Angel, the Concerto for Piano Nos. 4 and 5, the ballets Sur le Borysthène and Le Pas d'Acier, the Sonata for Two Violins and String Quartet No. 1. Prokofiev's personal and professional letters and documents from this period, totalling approximately 12,000 items, inlcude correspondence with conductors Albert Coates, Sir Henry Wood, Sergei Koussevitzky,Hermann Scherchen, and Ernest Ansermet; composers Igor Stravinsky and Nikolai Miaskovsky; directors Vsevolod Meyerhold and Alexander Tairov; Ballets Russes impresario Serge Diaghilev; and chess grandmaster Jose Capablanca. Prokofiev meticulously saved bills, accounts and legal papers concerning concerts in the United States, France, Italy, Spain, England, the Soviet Union, and Germany, as well as materials relating to the publication and copyright of his work.

When Prokofiev returned to Moscow in 1936, he took only those papers and manuscripts he judged necessary for his life in the Soviet Union. Everything else was left in the care of close Parisian friends and his publisher, Édition Russe de Musique. Most of this material was eventually deposited at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris, where it remained until 2013.

In the 1970s, Lina Prokofiev, the composer's first wife, left the Soviet Union and settled in the West. In the years that followed she devoted considerable energy to tracking down the composer's personal effects and papers and to promoting his legacy. She was able to access, and make photo and microfilm copies of, the Prokofiev material at the BnF. In 1983, she created The Serge Prokofiev Foundation. After Mme. Prokofiev's death in 1989, the musicologist Noëlle Mann continued this work, and in 1994 established the Serge Prokofiev Archive (SPA) at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

For nearly two decades, the SPA at Goldsmiths served as the authoritative research collection on Prokofiev in the West. It contained the copies of the Prokofiev materials at the BnF, as well as copies of other Prokofiev manuscripts, letters, photographs, and documents held in other repositories. The SPA gathered a vast collection of published material on Prokofiev, including some 500 scores (including many rare and first editions), nearly 500 concert programs, and over 400 books (mainly in English and Russian, but also in French and German), periodicals and articles on Prokofiev. The audiovisual collection contains almost 800 audio recordings on CD, LP and cassette, and 65 video/DVD recordings.

The Goldsmiths SPA also acquired archival material from the composer's family and devoted supporters. Lina Prokofiev donated her own personal archive, which includes materials gathered for a planned biography of her husband. Oleg Prokofiev, their younger son, donated material relating to his own work and to his father's music. Smaller archival collections added to the SPA archive include: the Georgii Gorchakov Collection, the Christopher Palmer Collection, the Lázár Collection, the Sir Edward Downes Collection, the Noëlle Mann Collection, and the Reberg Collection.

In 2013, the original Prokofiev material from the BnF and the Goldsmiths SPA were brought together to form one coherent collection, currently on deposit at the Rare Books and Manuscript Library at Columbia University.

The website of the Serge Prokofiev Foundation,, contains further information about the life and works of the composer and the Archive. There is also information about the journal of the Prokofiev Foundation, Three Oranges , including some sample full-text articles, and information regarding subscriptions.

Series I: Music Manuscripts, 1899-1953; 1970s

This series contains complete works, drafts, sketches, and notes for Prokofiev's musical works: 58 original manuscripts, 153 photocopies, 105 microfilm, and 57 digital items. The material is dated as early as 1899 and as late as 1953, with some items containing annotations added after Prokofiev's death.

The music manuscripts have been thoroughly cataloged to provide information about format, genre, material features, and provenance. Terms include:

Document type: divides manuscripts based on whether they consist of notated music or text.

Format: describes the technology used to produce each item as well as its stage of publication (i.e manuscript, typescript, publication).

Genre: categorizes the musical works themselves (i.e opera, ballet, motion picture music, incidental music, orchestral music, songs with orchestra, symphony, choruses with orchestra, band music, chamber music, instrumental music, songs, piano music).

Content type: if notated music, describes the way the work is scored: full score, short score, short score with instrumental annotations, piano score, piano score with instrumental annotations, arrangement, original workings, vocal score. If text, divides items into categories: libretto, screenplay, concert program, catalog, notes.

Part: describes the completeness of each item (i.e. complete, part, fragment, unknown, various).

Version: describes the stage of creative production shown in each manuscript (i.e. sketch, final, draft).

Subseries I.1: Original Manuscripts 1910-1934

58 original items: complete works, drafts, sketches, and notes, dated from 1910 to 1934, many of which are written or annotated in Prokofiev's own hand. Highlights include: the sketches, full score, and symphonic suite of The Prodigal Son, sketches and full score of Sur le Borysthène, the full score of Four Portraits (symphonic suite from The Gambler), the original workings, orchestral sketches and full score of Egyptian Nights, the draft full score of Symphony No. 3 with references to The Fiery Angel, the original workings for the Symphonic Song, sketches and drafts of Piano Concerto No. 4 and No. 5, and scores for the piano pieces Choses en soi, Two Sonatinas Op. 54, and Thoughts (or Pensées ) Op. 62.

The archive also contains three sketchbooks of musical ideas kept by Prokofiev during the years 1919, 1929 and 1931, and four untitled folders of loose sketches and notes.

Subseries I.2: Photocopies c. 1900-1952; 1970s

153 photocopies of Prokofiev musical works. Some works contain annotations added after Prokofiev's death.

Subseries I.3: Microfilm copies c. 1900-1948

105 microfilm copies of Prokofiev musical works.

Subseries I.4: Digital copies 1899-1952; 1970s

57 digital copies of Prokofiev musical works. Some works contain annotations added after Prokofiev's death.

Series II: Personal Papers, 1911-1947

This series contains approximately 12,000 items, mostly personal and professional correspondence, as well as financial records, notes, and miscellaneous documents. Most items are dated from Prokofiev's years living and traveling in Western Europe and America.

Subseries II.1: Personal and Professional Correspondence 1911-1947

The majority of this subseries consists of letters, mostly to Serge Prokofiev, as well as drafts of his letters to others. Also included here are letters addressed to others (generally members of the Prokofiev family), as well as documents pertaining to them.

Serge Prokofiev's correspondents include friends and family members, such as conductors Albert Coates, Sir Henry Wood, Sergei Koussevitsky, Hermann Scherchen, and Ernest Ansermet; composers Igor Stravinsky, Nikolai Miaskovsky; theatre directors Vsevolod Meyerhold and Alexander Tairov; the Director of the Ballets Russes, Serge Diaghilev; poets and writers such as Konstantin Balmont; and chess grandmaster José Capablanca.

Also included are financial material such as bills and accounts, legal papers and correspondence concerning concerts in the USA, France, Italy, Spain, England, the Soviet Union and Germany; and the publication and copyright of Prokofiev's work. Individuals and companies with which Prokofiev dealt in these matters included musical societies such as the Aeolian Company in the USA, Concerts Populaires de Bruxelles, and Concerts Pasdeloup in Paris; music publishers such as Breitkopf and Härtel in Leipzig, Russicher Musikverlag in Berlin and Edition Russe de Musique in Paris; and Soviet music publishing and arts authorities including the State Publishing House, the Moscow and Leningrad conservatories, and the Direction of State Theatres. There is also correspondence regarding the composition of ballets and operas, notably The Love for Three Oranges, Chout, the Fiery Angel and Le Pas d'Acier.

This subseries also contains fragments from diaries, personal notes, concert programs and press cuttings relating to Prokofiev's work.

Materials are arranged in chronological order, with Day Month Year in the item title. Dates in brackets are implied. Missing or unidentifiable day, month, or year are rendered with "x." When the entire date is missing or unidentifiable, you will see "Unidentified Date" in the item title Letters with partially or fully unknown dates are cataloged at the end of the subseries.

To request an item, please order the box in which it is contained. Please note that the SPA does not hold originals of all items. If no Box/Folder designation is given, request the Goldsmiths Binder to consult a photocopy.

For more material, please consult subseries II (Financial Records) and especially subseries III (Miscellaneous) of this series.

Subseries II.2: Financial Records1917-1935

This subseries contains two boxes of financial records and accounts statments.

Subseries II.3: Miscellaneous1917-1935

This box contains various material, including: letters, postcards, photographs, financial records, contracts, typescript diary, drafts of wrtings, and a personal address book.

Series III: Published Scores, 1921-2011

This series contains all published Prokofiev works in various editions, including the collected editions of his works published by Belwin Mills and the Soviet State Music Publishing House. The series also houses twenty-five (25) first editions or otherwise rare scores (dating from 1923 onwards), including the vocal score first edition of Love for Three Oranges, signed and annotated by Prokofiev.

Terms include:

Content type: describes the way the work is scored: full score, short score, piano score, vocal score, miniature score, part(s), arrangement.

Genre: categorizes the musical works themselves (i.e opera, ballet, motion picture music, incidental music, orchestral music, songs with orchestra, symphony, choruses with orchestra, band music, chamber music, instrumental music, songs, piano music).

Subseries III.1: Prokofiev Collected Works, Belwin Mills, 1979-1980

Ninety-three (93) volumes of Prokofiev’s collected works published by Belwin Mills.

Subseries III.2: Prokofiev Collected Works, Soviet State Music Publishing House (Gosudarstvennoe Muzykal'noe Izdatel'stvo), 1955-1966

Twelve (12) volumes of Prokofiev’s collected works published by the Soviet State Music Publishing House.

Subseries III.3: Prokofiev works, Various publishers, Arranged by genre, 1921-2011

Three hundred and forty-one (341) editions of Prokofiev’s works by various publishers.

Subseries III.4: Prokofiev works, Arrangements, 1951-2008

Thirty-seven (37) arrangements of Prokofiev’s works.

Subseries III.5: Works by other composers, 1928-2003

Eight (8) volumes of works by other Russian composers.

Subseries III.6: Oversize items, 1947-2011

Twenty (20) oversize editions of Prokofiev’s works by various publishers.

Subseries III.7: Duplicate items, 1958-2011

Twenty-three (23) duplicates of volumes found elsewhere in this series.

Series IV: Concert Programs1918-2013

607 programs for concerts, operas, ballets and other performances where Sergei Prokofiev's music was performed throughout the world

Series V: Research Collection1917-2003

This series contains a rich collection secondary scholarly literature related to Serge Prokofiev, his musical or cultural context, and his influence on the history of music. It contains a total of 1,281 items: books, book sections, journal issues, and various types of articles. Special subseries are devoted to "Three Oranges," the journal published by the Serge Prokofiev Foundation from 2001-2016, "Sovetskaya muzyka" (Soviet Music), the main musicologial publication in the Soviet Union from 1933-1991, and "Opera," a monthly British magazine devoted to covering all things related to opera. Languages included are Russian, English, German, French, Japanese, Czech, Italian, Arabic, Dutch, and Norwegian.

Subseries V.1: Books

412 books.

Subseries V.2: Book Sections

11 book sections.

Subseries V.3: General Periodicals: Articles and Issues

518 items: essays, reviews, interviews, reports, newsletters, bulletins and entire journal issues from various periodicals, such as Pianowerld, Le monde de la Musique, Duisburger Journal, Muzykal'naia Zhizn', BBC Music Magazine, and Stagebill. Please note that items with "ef" in their call number are digital articles.

Subseries V.4: Three Oranges

215 essays and reviews from issues of Three Oranges.

Subseries V.5: Sovetskaya Muzyka

54 essays and reviews from issues of Sovetskaya Muzyka.

Subseries V.6: Opera

71 essays and reviews from issues of Opera.

Series VI: Audio-Visual Collection1926-2012

This series contains pproximately 940 recordings on audio tape, CD, DVD, LP, video tape and in digital format. Included are rare recordings of Prokofiev playing his works, published recordings of Prokofiev's music, interviews, and documentaries.

Subseries VI.1: Audio Tapes

98 records

Subseries VI.2: Compact Disks

505 CDs and 1 CD-Rom

Subseries VI.3: DVD

56 items

Subseries VI.4: Video Tapes

51 items

Subseries VI.5: LPs

234 items

Subseries VI.6: Digitized Holdings

Four items that the SPA only holds in digital format

Series VII: Photographs

Approximately 600 images from the Prokofiev family photograph collection, covering 1891-1953. Includes the Reberg collection (1900-1920), containing 17 original photographs of Prokofiev. Includes a small number of digital images of productions of Prokofiev’s operas, ballets.

Series X: Other Collections

Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

The SPA is closed to research while it is being catalogued (2015-2019). Each Series will be open for research once cataloging is complete and the Finding Aid is made available online.

The Serge Prokofiev Foundation Archive is accessed by arrangement with the Project Archivist for the Prokofiev Archive

Natalia Ermolaev


or the Performing Arts Curator:

Jennifer B. Lee


phone: 212-854-4048

This collection is located on-site.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Serge Prokofiev Archive; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

The collection is being processed by Natalia Ermolaev, with assistance from Velia Ivanova, Michael Ossorgin, Jennifer Goslee, Vera Senina, Julia Khait, Milica Ilicic, Mark Saccomano, Rachael Lee, and input from Rita McAllister.

Finding aid written by Natalia Ermolaev, 2015-2017

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion February 24,2015

Finding aid written in English.

    2015-02-24 xml document instance created by Adrien Hilton

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Band workPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Chamber/instrumental workPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Full scorePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Incidental musicPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Motion picture musicPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Notated musicPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Orchestral workPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Piano scorePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Piano score with instrumental annotationsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Program NotesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Programs (Documents)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Short scorePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Short score with instrumental annotationsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Texts (document genres)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Vocal-orchestral workPortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Composers--Soviet Union.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Prokofiev, Serge, 1891-1953.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note