"No one cares about talent. Mediocrity is easier to deal with, and less trouble." - Sergey Prokofiev's diaries
This was one of the first sentences I was drawn to during the reading of this incredibly well written biographical book on Sergey Prokofiev (Sergey Prokofiev by Daniel Jaffé), whose life I knew very little about, with the exception of maybe a few aspects related to his musical works.
In a rather naive type of approach on my part I had imagined someone with his talent and musical virtuosity would have gone through life without too many difficulties, being solely dependant on and acknowledged by what he had to offer audiences and in no way had I ever thought the political events would have forced him to shape his career and in a rather direct way suffer despite the admiration and support of key figures.
His notoriety came with a price and so did his return to the USSR in his final years. Prokofiev's life was particularly rich and Daniel Jaffé's biograpphy is more than a mere compehensive approach to who Prokofiev really was, once it covers his circle of friends and the women who played an important role in his life.
"All attempts to play down to the listener not only inherently underestimate his cultural maturity and the development of his taste - they also contain an element of insincerity. And music that is insincere cannot endure."
There are plenty of black and white photographs of Prokofiev in the various stages and important moments of his life in this book, and despite being too detailed (musically speaking) at times it does nevertheless provide readers with a thorough intimate portrait of such an outstanding character that goes well beyond the simple composer.
It has taken me longer to read it than I had initially expected it would but it' s been more than worth it in as much as apart from his personal life it made me ponder on a lot of other aspects that still resonate today as far as creativity and being oneself are concerned.