Scriabin, Aleksandr

Scriabin, Aleksandr

▪ Russian composer
in full  Aleksandr Nikolayevich Scriabin , Scriabin also spelled  Skriabin , or  Skryabin 
born Dec. 25, 1871 [Jan. 6, 1872, New Style], Moscow, Russia
died April 14 [April 27], 1915, Moscow
 Russian composer of piano and orchestral music noted for its unusual harmonies through which the composer sought to explore musical symbolism.

      Scriabin was trained as a soldier at the Moscow Cadet School from 1882 to 1889 but studied music at the same time and took piano lessons. In 1888 he entered the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied the piano with V.I. Safonov and composition with Sergey Taneyev (Taneyev, Sergey) and Anton Arensky (Arensky, Anton). By 1892, when he graduated from the conservatory, he had composed the piano pieces that constitute his opuses 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7. In 1897 he married the pianist Vera Isakovich and from 1898 until 1903 taught at the Moscow Conservatory. He then devoted himself entirely to composition and in 1904 settled in Switzerland. After 1900 he was much preoccupied with mystical philosophy, and his Symphony No. 1, composed in that year, has a choral finale, to his own words, glorifying art as a form of religion. In Switzerland he completed his Symphony No. 3, first performed under Arthur Nikisch in Paris in 1905. The literary “program” of this work, devised by Tatiana Schloezer, with whom he had formed a relationship after abandoning his wife, was said to represent “the evolution of the human spirit from pantheism to unity with the universe.” Theosophical ideas similarly provided the basis of the orchestral Poem of Ecstasy (1908) and Prometheus (1911), which called for the projection of colours onto a screen during the performance.

      From 1906 to 1907 Scriabin toured the United States, where he gave concerts with Safonov and the conductor Modest Altschuler, and in 1908 he frequented theosophical circles in Brussels. In 1909 he was encouraged by the conductor Serge Koussevitzky (Koussevitzky, Serge), who both performed and published his works, to return to Russia. By then he was no longer thinking in terms of music alone; he was looking forward to an all-embracing “Mystery.” This work was planned to open with a “liturgical act” in which music, poetry, dancing, colours, and scents were to unite to induce in the worshipers a “supreme, final ecstasy.” He wrote the poem of the “Preliminary Action” of the “Mystery” but left only sketches for the music.

      Scriabin's reputation stems from his grandiose symphonies and his sensitive, exquisitely polished piano music. His piano works include 10 sonatas (1892–1913), an early concerto, and many preludes and other short pieces. Although Scriabin was an idolater of Frédéric Chopin (Chopin, Frédéric) in his youth, he early developed a personal style. As his thought became more and more mystical, egocentric, and ingrown, his harmonic style became ever less generally intelligible. Meaningful analysis of his work only began appearing in the 1960s, and yet his music had always attracted a devoted following among modernists.

Additional Reading
James M. Baker, The Music of Alexander Scriabin (1986). Faubion Bowers, Scriabin, 2nd rev. ed. (1996). Boris de Schloezer, Scriabin: Artist and Mystic (1987; originally published in Russian, 1923).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Scriabin, Aleksandr (Nikolayevich) — born Jan. 6, 1872, Moscow, Russia died April 27, 1915, Moscow Russian composer and pianist. He studied piano and composition at the Moscow Conservatory and then launched a successful concert career. His early music was mostly for piano (including …   Universalium

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  • Aleksandr Nikolayevich Scriabin — noun Russian composer of orchestral and piano music (1872 1915) • Syn: ↑Scriabin, ↑Aleksandr Scriabin • Instance Hypernyms: ↑composer …   Useful english dictionary

  • Aleksandr Scriabin — noun Russian composer of orchestral and piano music (1872 1915) • Syn: ↑Scriabin, ↑Aleksandr Nikolayevich Scriabin • Instance Hypernyms: ↑composer …   Useful english dictionary

  • Scriabin — noun Russian composer of orchestral and piano music (1872 1915) • Syn: ↑Aleksandr Scriabin, ↑Aleksandr Nikolayevich Scriabin • Instance Hypernyms: ↑composer …   Useful english dictionary

  • Aleksandr — (as used in expressions) Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandr Nikolayevich Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Blok Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Borodin Aleksandr Porfiryevich Glazunov Aleksandr Konstantinovich Gorchakov Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prince Gorsky Aleksandr… …   Universalium

  • Scriabin — [skryä′bēn; ] E [ skrē ä′bin] Aleksandr (Nikolayevich) [ä΄lyik sän′dr ] 1872 1915; Russ. composer & pianist …   English World dictionary

  • Scriabin — or Skryabin biographical name Aleksandr Nikolayevich 1872 1915 Russian composer …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Scriabin — /skree ah bin/; Russ. /skrddyah byin/, n. Aleksandr Nikolaevich /al ig zan deuhr nik euh luy euh vich, zahn /; Russ. /u lyi ksahn drdd nyi ku lah yi vyich/, 1872 1915, Russian composer and pianist. * * * …   Universalium

  • Scriabin — Scria•bin [[t]skriˈɑ bɪn[/t]] n. big Aleksandr Nikolaevich, 1872–1915, Russian composer and pianist …   From formal English to slang

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