Simon Morrison earned his Ph.D. from Princeton (1997) after receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto (1987) and a master’s at McGill (1993). He specializes in 20th-century music, particularly Russian, Soviet, and French music, with particular interests in dance, cinema, and historically informed performance based on primary sources. He has conducted archival research in St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Paris, London, New York, and extensively in Moscow. In the past few years, he has traveled to Tel Aviv, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Bangkok to give invited lectures and graduate seminars.
Morrison is the author of Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement (California, 2002) and The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years (Oxford, 2009) as well as editor of Prokofiev and His World (Princeton, 2008). His trade-biography of Lina Prokofiev, entitled Lina and Serge: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev (Houghton, 2013), was positively reviewed in such media outlets as the New Yorker, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal. It was also featured as <a href=“http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/galleries/p017099d”> “Book of the Week”</a> on BBC radio and covered on BBC World News. Morrison’s more specialized articles and essay-reviews have appeared in such journals as the Journal of the American Musicological Society, 19th-Century Music, Cambridge Opera Journal, Journal of Musicology, Music & Letters, and Slavic Review; topics include Ravel’s ballet Daphnis et Chloé, the aesthetics of Lourié, the sound-world of Rimsky-Korsakov, eschatology of Scriabin, and Shostakovich’s ballet The Bolt. He also maintains a profile as a public intellectual, having published feature articles and opinion pieces in The New York Times, New York Review of Books, and London Review of Books . He serves as president of the Prokofiev Foundation, and edits the journal Three Oranges, produced under its auspices. Currently he is writing a history of the Bolshoi Ballet, under contract with Liveright (Norton).
Morrison has translated his archival findings into new productions. In 2005 he oversaw the recreation of Prokofiev’s ballet Le Pas d’Acier at Princeton, and in 2007 he co-produced a world-premiere staging of Alexander Pushkin’s drama Boris Godunov featuring Prokofiev’s incidental music and Vsevolod Meyerhold’s directorial concepts. In 2008, Morrison restored the scenario and score of the original (1935) version of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet for the Mark Morris Dance Group. The project involved orchestrating the newly discovered, original happy ending plus rearranging the order and adjusting the content throughout. This version of the ballet was premiered on July 4, 2008 and subsequently performed in Berkeley, London, Norfolk (Virginia), Urbana-Champagne (Ill.), and New York City at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. Morrison also oversaw stagings of John Alden Carpenter’s jazz-ballet Krazy Kat and Debussy’s La Boîte à Joujoux at Princeton.
Among Morrison’s distinctions are the Alfred Einstein Award from the American Musicological Society (for outstanding musicological article), an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, a Phi Beta Kappa Society Teacher Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.