"Madame *** établit un piano dans les Alpes."
March 25, 2013 9:29 PM   Subscribe

"Note that Scriabin did not, for his theory, recognize a difference between a major and a minor tonality of the same name (for example: c-minor and C-Major). Indeed, influenced also by the doctrines of theosophy, he developed his system of synesthesia toward what would have been a pioneering multimedia performance: his unrealized magnum opus Mysterium was to have been a grand week-long performance including music, scent, dance, and light in the foothills of the Himalayas Mountains that was somehow to bring about the dissolution of the world in bliss." - From Russian composer Alexander Scriabin's Wikipedia page

Some of the music he wrote

for orchestra:

Piano Concerto in F-sharp minor, Op. 20
Rêverie, Op. 24
Symphony no. 1 in E major, Op. 26
Symphony no. 2 in C minor, Op. 29
Symphony no. 3 in C minor, The Divine Poem, Op. 43 (arranged for two pianos)
Le poème de l'extase, Op. 54 (AKA Symphony no. 4)
Prometheus: Poem of Fire, Op. 60 (AKA Symphony no. 5; the documentary from which this performance is drawn)
Mysterium: Prefatory Act (Never finished; reconstructed by Alexander Nemtin from unfinished notes)

(Last four are the big ones)

for solo piano:

Etude in C-sharp minor, No. 1 from Trois morceaux, Op. 2
Etude in D-sharp minor, Op. 8, No. 12
Movements 3 and 4 from Piano Sonata, no.3, Op. 23 (Scriabin's own recording)
Fantaisie in B minor, Op. 28
Prelude, Op.74, no. 2 (Considered his best piece by his wife; also his last full piece before he died)

List of compositions.


Scriabin on his mystic chord: "I decided that the more higher tones there are in harmony, it would turn out to be more radiant, sharper and more brilliant. But it was necessary to organize the notes giving them a logical arrangement. Therefore, I took the usual thirteenth-chord, which is arranged in thirds. But it is not that important to accumulate high tones. To make it shining, conveying the idea of light, a greater number of tones had to be raised in the chord. And, therefore, I raise the tones: At first I take the shining major third, then I also raise the fifth, and the eleventh—thus forming my chord—which is raised completely and, therefore, really shining."

The mystic chord demonstrated.

Pianist Yevgeny Sudbin's liner notes for an album of Scriabin's work: "What is it about Scriabin that makes his venom so poisonous? Apart from being a composer-pianist, poet, solipsist, semi-, neo- and theophilosopher, musical thaumaturge and mystagogue - and those were only his part-time jobs - he was, above all, a visionary way ahead of his time. (At times a little delusional, perhaps, but this has never stopped greatness from budding.)"

From Scriabin's notebooks: "I am God."

Scriabin Society of America.

Was Scriabin a Synaesthete?

Free scores.
posted by Rustic Etruscan (12 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
From Scriabin's notebooks: "I am God."

Listen to Gilels play Scriabin's fourth Sonata and tell me that he isn't at least this close. *pinched fingers*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

So glad you made this post. This is really good stuff, and he is a fascinating character.
posted by Scientist at 9:58 PM on March 25, 2013

There's a really kick-ass novel in all this, I reckon. Just needs a fist-fight on a steam-train, an avalanche and some highly-musical inter-dimensional yetis. Somebody call Michael Chabon!!
posted by misterbee at 10:03 PM on March 25, 2013

posted by Sticherbeast at 10:27 PM on March 25, 2013

Richter does some pretty unearthly Op 53
posted by Mocata at 2:27 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Excellent post! Horowitz playing my all time favourite: Vers la flamme (Op 72).
posted by surrendering monkey at 3:13 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is me 'seeing' stuff when seriously listening to music, synesthesia? This has happened to me since I was about 14. In the past year, I've started hearing music when looking at certain kinds of video. Bought a keyboard in order to attempt to score some of my own video.

This 'mystery chord' I'd not heard of before. Sounds like the final chord in the Mars (Holst) movement, and a large portion of E.L.P. material.

I have to say, if someone has this thing in their head, it is easy for me to imagine getting a bit crazy. It can be very emotional and overwhelming. The first time it happened to me, I wasn't looking for it. I've been in the habit of seeking it ever since.
posted by Goofyy at 4:45 AM on March 26, 2013

That sounds like something someone should stage now. It would be a lot easier.
posted by Miko at 5:12 AM on March 26, 2013

I hope not too many people skipped the post due to the wikipedia links. He was a great composer.
posted by ersatz at 6:04 AM on March 26, 2013

I wonder what that kind of chord sounded like to his contemporaries? Dissonant? ....I probably heard this kind of sound (13h chord with a sharp 11th) a thousand times in things like TV and movie scores, before I even knew what a triad was, so it sounds like a pretty normal chord to me.
posted by thelonius at 6:34 AM on March 26, 2013

Fantastic post. Thanks, Rustic Etruscan.
posted by homunculus at 11:36 AM on March 26, 2013

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