Scriabin, Alexander Nikolayevitch
Scriabin, Alexander Nikolayevitch (1872–1915)
Russian composer and pianist, whose reputation relies on his early piano music.
Son of an aristocratic Moscow family, Scriabin studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Sergei Taneyev (1856–1915) at the same time as Rachmaninov. After graduation he toured Europe playing his own piano preludes, impromptus, dances, studies, and early sonatas, which owe a great deal to Chopin and Liszt in their form and content. After a period as professor of the piano at the Moscow Conservatory (1898–1904), Scriabin concentrated almost entirely on composition, writing a number of tone poems and sonatas in a new, complex, and somewhat eccentric style that emerged from his preoccupation with mysticism and theosophy. In this category are The Divine Poem (1903, his third symphony), The Poem of Ecstasy (1908), and Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (1909–10), which he envisaged as using a keyboard to project colours as well as a large orchestra, piano, organ, and chorus. Scriabin regarded his later works as exercises in preparation for his ultimate ‘Mystery’, a union of the arts that would transform the world into a paradise and himself into a messiah. This work had not progressed beyond a few preliminary sketches before he died.