However, given the devastating assessment of his 6th Symphony, Prokofiev needed to re-define his artistic goals. His widow revealed that “Prokofiev had a strong desire for a simple, clear musical language, one he had been thinking about for a long time. When he spoke of clarity and simplicity he would say that it was not a question of the ‘old simplicity,’ which consisted in repeating what had already been said, but of a new simplicity linked with the direction our lives were taking.”
This “new simplicity” became a hallmark of a number of Prokofiev’s late compositions, and it has certainly been applied to his Symphony No. 7. Prokofiev, however, was not entirely happy with that label, and he responded to a critic “the art of writing music and making notes blend into a seamless piece of wonder is beyond my talents. I don’t think, however, I would ever call a symphony simple.”
The vivacious and cheerful character of the symphony originally ended on a sad note, but the Russian conductor Samuil Samosud convinced the composer to add a few more measure and to bring back the happy themes from the first movement. The reason for that addition was that Samosud was convinced that the new ending would earn Prokofiev the Stalin Prize. As you might already have guessed, Prokofiev did not receive the Stalin Prize, but he was posthumously awarded the Lenin Prize for this symphony in 1957.
Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 7