Please DONATE to help with maintenance and upkeep of the Wind Repertory Project!

Alexander Scriabin

From Wind Repertory Project
Alexander Scriabin

Biography

Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (6 January 1872, Moscow – 27 April 1915, Moscow) was a Russian composer and pianist.

As a child, Scriabin was frequently exposed to piano playing, and anecdotal references describe him demanding that his aunt play for him. Apparently precocious, Scriabin began building pianos after being fascinated with piano mechanisms. In 1882 he enlisted in the Second Moscow Cadet Corps and later studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Anton Arensky, Sergei Taneyev, and Vasily Safonov. He became a noted pianist despite his small hands, which could barely stretch to a ninth.

In 1894 Scriabin made his debut as a pianist in St. Petersburg, performing his own works to positive reviews. During the same year, Mitrofan Belyayev agreed to pay Scriabin to compose for his publishing company. In August 1897, Scriabin married the young pianist Vera Ivanovna Isakovich, and then toured in Russia and abroad, culminating in a successful 1898 concert in Paris. That year he became a teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, and began to establish his reputation as a composer. During this period he composed his cycle of études, Op. 8, several sets of preludes, his first three piano sonatas, and his only piano concerto, among other works, mostly for piano. For a period of five years, Scriabin was based in Moscow, during which time the first two of his symphonies were conducted by his old teacher Safonov.

In 1904 he moved to Switzerland, in 1907 to Paris, and in 1909 returned to Russia permanently, working on increaingly grandiose projects.

Scriabin, who was influenced by Frédéric Chopin, composed early works that are characterized by tonal language. Later in his career, independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system, which accorded with his personal brand of mysticism. Scriabin was influenced by synesthesia, and associated colours with the various harmonic tones of his atonal scale, while his colour-coded circle of fifths was also influenced by theosophy. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.

Scriabin was one of the most innovative and most controversial of early modern composers. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia said of Scriabin that, "No composer has had more scorn heaped on him or greater love bestowed." Leo Tolstoy described Scriabin's music as "a sincere expression of genius." Scriabin had a major impact on the music world over time, and influenced composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, and Nikolai Roslavets. However Scriabin's importance in the Soviet musical scene, and internationally, drastically declined. According to his biographer, "No one was more famous during their lifetime, and few were more quickly ignored after death." Nevertheless, his musical aesthetics have been reevaluated, and his ten published sonatas for piano, which arguably provided the most consistent contribution to the genre since the time of Beethoven's set, have been increasingly championed.


Works for Winds


References