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Lieutenant Kijé is the score composed by Sergei Prokofiev for the 1934 Soviet film Lieutenant Kijé directed by Aleksandr Faintsimmer based on the novel of the same title by Yury Tynyanov.

Suite from Lieutenant Kijé

Sergei Prokofiev composed music to the film Lieutenant Kijé in 1933. Prokofiev compiled a suite from the film music, in which form it has found the most popularity. The suite exists in two versions, one using a baritone voice and the other using a saxophone. The latter is the more often performed version. The music has also been used as the score for a ballet by the Bolshoi Balletmarker company. The troika is perhaps the best known movement, frequently used in films and documentaries for Christmas scenes and scenes involving snow. This motif from the suite was also used in the song I Believe In Father Christmas by the English rock musician Greg Lake, a member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, as well as the somewhat less well-known Helen Love's Christmas single "Happiest Time of the Year". The Romance motif can also be heard on Sting's "Russians" from the album The Dream of the Blue Turtles.


The suite, in five movements and lasting 20–25 minutes, broadly follows the plot:
  1. Kijé's Birth: Emperor Paul, listening to a report, mishears a phrase and concludes that the lieutenant exists. He demands that "Kijé" be promoted to his elite guard. It is an offence to contradict the Tsar, so the palace administrators must invent someone of that name.
  2. Romance. The fictional lieutenant falls in love. The double bass has an appropriately ghostly quality.
  3. Kijé's Wedding. Since the Tsar prefers his heroic soldiers to be married, the administrators concoct a fake wedding. The vodka that the Tsar approves for this event is very real.
  4. Troika. The fairy-tale quality of the story is illustrated by a three-horse open sleigh.
  5. Kijé's Burial. The administrators finally rid themselves of the non-existent lieutenant by saying he has died. The Tsar expresses his sadness, and the civil servants heave a sigh of relief.


1937, Parismarker (hence the French spelling of "Kijé"; the usual transliteration of Russian into English would be "Kizhe").


Baritone voice

2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, tenor saxophone (sometimes performed on bassoon), 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, cornet, 3 trombones, tuba, 3 percussionists (cymbals, little bells, triangle, bass drum, snare drum, tambourine), harp, piano or celeste, and strings.


Uses in other media


Popular music


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