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Scriabin, Alexander Nikolayievich
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Alexander Nikolayevich Skryabin [Scriabin]

(Born; Moscow, 6 Jan 1872; Died; there, 27 April 1915). Russian composer. He was a fellow pupil of Rakhmaninov's in Zverev's class from 1884 and at the Moscow Conservatory (1888-92), where his teachers were Taneyev, Arensky and Safonov. From 1894 his career as a pianist was managed by Belyayev, who arranged his European tours and also published his works: at this stage they were almost exclusively for solo piano, and deeply influenced by Chopin (most are preludes and mazurkas), though in the late 1890s he began to write for orchestra. In 1903 he left Russia and his family to live in western Europe for six years with a young female admirer, and his musical style became more intensely personal, developing a profusion of decoration in harmony becalmed by unresolved dominant chords or whole-tone elements. The major works of this period include the Divine Poem and again numerous piano pieces.

In 1905 he encountered Madame Blavatsky's theosophy, which soon ousted the enthusiasm for Nietschean superhumanism that had underlain the immediately preceding works. The static and ecstatic tendencies in his music were encouraged, being expressed notably in the Poem of Ecstasy and Prometheus, the latter intended to be performed with a play of coloured light. Still more ambitious were the plans for the Mysterium, a quasi-religious act which would have united all the arts, and for the composition of which the exclusively piano works of 1910-15 were intended to be preparatory, this journey into mystical hysteria going along with a voyage beyond tonality to a floating dissonance often based on the 'mystic chord'; (C-FSharp-BFlat-E-A-D).

Orchestral music Pf Conc., fSharp (1896); Sym. no.1, E, with chorus (1900); Sym. no.2, c (1901); Sym. no.3, 'Divine Poem' (1904); Poem of Ecstasy (1908); Prometheus (1910)

Piano music10 sonatas (1892, 1897, 1898, 1903, 1907, 1911, 1911, 1913, 1913, 1913); Circa; 80 preludes; nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas, impromptus, poems, pieces

Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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