Nice, David 1962- (David Michael Nice)

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Nice, David 1962- (David Michael Nice)


Born June 15, 1962.




City Literary Institute, London, England, instructor; Morley College, London, lecturer in music.


Richard Strauss, Omnibus Press (London, England), 1993.

Tchaikovsky, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.

Edward Elgar: An Essential Guide to His Life and Works, Pavilion (London, England), 1996.

Prokofiev: From Russia to the West, 1891-1935, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including BBC Music, Radio 3's CD Review, Sunday Correspondent, and the London Guardian.


David Nice is a writer and educator who is deeply involved in the world of classical music. He shares his knowledge through a variety of mediums and as a teacher. He has contributed a number of articles and reviews to journals and periodicals, including BBC Music, Radio 3's CD Review, Sunday Correspondent, and the Guardian. He is also the author of a number of books about composers, including Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Edward Elgar: An Essential Guide to His Life and Works, and Prokofiev: From Russia to the West, 1891-1935.

Although Nice has written about composers from various countries, he confesses to a particular love for the works of Russian composers, particularly those by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. In an interview with Andrew Grossman for the Prokofiev Web site, Nice explained his introduction to the music of these Russian composers as a child, and how they first began to capture his imagination: "My way in to Prokofiev was by the usual route of English children—Peter and the Wolf played to us on gramophone records at school. Though I liked Peter, I can't say it made a personal impression; we just accepted it as one of the handful of prescribed works. I was altogether crazier about Tchaikovsky, though, and it struck me fairly early on that Prokofiev's bird in Peter sounded remarkably similar to Tchaikovsky's Bluebird (voiced by flute and clarinet) in The Sleeping Beauty." Later, having heard far more of the music of both men, he found he enjoyed both, but still classified Prokofiev as the less serious of the composers. He told Grossman: "I held the standard view of Prokofiev as prankster and master caricaturist." Ultimately, several performances of Prokofiev's Sixth Symphony finally convinced him otherwise, giving him new appreciation for the depth of the composer's work and the diversity of his talents.

Prokofiev, published in 2003, is the first volume in a projected two-volume work on the composer's life and music; it is notable for being the first biography written about him since the fall of the Soviet Union. In order to get the most accurate portrait possible, Nice traveled to Russia, pored over piles of Prokofiev's personal documents, and enlisted remaining members of his family to assist him in acquiring a realistic view of the man. Nice's goal in setting out to write the book was to, in some way, restore the composer's reputation, setting straight much of the false propaganda that was spread about him during the Soviet era. Having written a number of major works in the West, Prokofiev had been dismissed by Soviet writers as "decadent," according to Nice. However, the music that he wrote in the Soviet Union was in turn ignored by Western musical audiences, as British and American musical critics denounced those works as propaganda written solely for the promotion of Soviet Russia's agenda. By delving into the archives now available, which held not just Prokofiev's music but his letters and other papers, Nice was able to provide readers with a much more well-rounded and diverse picture of the life and talents of the composer. The overall impression of Prokofiev had been of a cold and sarcastic man, but many of his writings showed him in a different light, adding depth to the complete picture of the man. Kenneth Williams, in a review for the American Music Teacher, felt that "the author wisely avoids analyses that probe Prokofiev's complex personality. Rather, the author gives the reader the opportunity to form an impression of this creative personality based on his interactions with colleagues."

Nice does not just analyze Prokofiev's life and reputation, but his musical accomplishments as well. He spends time addressing the innovations in the composer's music and style, discussing how many of his more inventive pieces combined both the strong roots of Russian music on which he was raised and the more modern elements that were becoming popular in the musical climate of his era. He also sets out to correct some of the statements made in an earlier biography of Prokofiev that was written by during the Soviet era. Williams concluded that the work "is scholarly yet accessible to readers with a more casual interest in Prokofiev." Library Journal reviewer Larry Lipkis commented that "overall, the writing is fluid and unencumbered by excessive analytical detail, and at times witty," adding that "Nice also includes some charming anecdotes." Francis Maes, in a review for the Canadian Journal of History, declared that "Nice puts his experiences as a music journalist to good use. The material is presented from the inside of events and comes close to an eyewitness account."



American Music Teacher, October 1, 2003, Kenneth Williams, review of Prokofiev: From Russia to the West, 1891-1935, p. 102.

Canadian Journal of History, March 22, 2006, Francis Maes, review of Prokofiev.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January 1, 2004, J. Behrens, review of Prokofiev, p. 918.

Historian, January 1, 2004, Jonathan Beecher, review of Prokofiev, p. 885.

Hudson Review, September 22, 2003, review of Prokofiev, p. 531.

Library Journal, October 15, 1997, Bonnie Jo Dopp, review of Tchaikovsky, p. 63; June 15, 2003, Larry Lipkis, review of Prokofiev, p. 75.

Music & Letters, August 1, 2004, Pauline Fairclough, review of Prokofiev, p. 486.

Musical Times, September 22, 2003, "Soviet Survivor," p. 65.

Opera, August 1, 2003, Andrew Hutt, review of Prokofiev, p. 1019.

Slavic and East European Journal, September 22, 2003, Simon Morrison, review of Prokofiev, p. 520.

Slavic Review, June 22, 2004, Neil Minturn, review of Prokofiev, p. 447.

Times Literary Supplement, November 28, 2003, review of Prokofiev, p. 6; November 28, 2003, "Only in Moscow," p. 6.

Virginia Quarterly Review, September 22, 2003, review of Prokofiev, p. 129.


Prokofiev Web site, (December 9, 2003), Andrew Grossman, "A Conversation with David Nice."