A brilliant pianist and composer of symphonies, concertos, ballets, operas, film scores and more, Prokofiev lived and worked during a tumultuous time in Russia, writing mostly from the 1920s through the '40s. He started his career with adventurous pieces, progressively altering highly chromatic harmonies for a sound that was very modern at the time. Socialist realism forced Prokofiev to simplify his style in order to reflect the simplicity of the common man -- an image of the proletariat that Stalin was impressing on all artists at the time (those who didn't cooperate often "disappeared" permanently). Romeo and Juliet, Peter and the Wolf and Alexander Nevsky are perfect examples of Prokofiev's ability to obey Stalin's dictates while (somewhat subversively) maintaining his artistic integrity. He injected warmth and freshness into his pieces using strong, unclouded melodies with progressive orchestration and harmony.