Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (English: /skriˈɑːbɪn/;
Russian: Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Скря́бин,
Russian pronunciation: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr nʲɪkəˈɫaɪvʲɪtɕ
ˈskrʲæbʲɪn]; 6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27
April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and
pianist. Scriabin, who was influenced early in his life by the works
of Frédéric Chopin, composed works that are characterised by a
highly tonal idiom (these works are associated with his "first stage"
of compositional output). 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
Scriabin was one of the most innovative and most controversial of
early modern composers. The
Great Soviet Encyclopedia
Great Soviet Encyclopedia said of Scriabin
that "no composer has had more scorn heaped on him or greater love
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 Russian and then Soviet musical scene, and
internationally, drastically declined after his death. According to
his biographer Bowers, "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
1.1 Childhood and education (1872–93)
1.2 Early career (1894–1903)
1.3 Leaving Russia (1903–09)
1.4 Return to Russia (1909–14)
2.1 First period (1880s–1903)
2.2 Second period (1903–07)
2.3 Third period (1907–15)
3 Philosophical influences and influence of colour
4 Recordings and performers
5 Reception and influence
6 Relatives and descendants
7 See also
9 External links
Childhood and education (1872–93)
Alexander Scriabin (late 1870s)
Scriabin was born in
Moscow into a Russian noble family on Christmas
Day 1871 according to the Julian Calendar. His father Nikolai
Aleksandrovich Scriabin (1849–1915), then a student at the Moscow
State University, belonged to a modest noble family founded by
Scriabin's great-grandfather Ivan Alekseevich Scriabin, a simple
soldier from Tula who made a brilliant military career and was granted
hereditary nobility in 1819. Alexander's paternal grandmother
Elizaveta Ivanovna Podchertkova, daughter of a captain lieutenant Ivan
Vasilievcih Podchertkov, came from a wealthy noble house of the
Novgorod Governorate. His mother Lyubov Petrovna Scriabina (née
Schetinina) (1850–1873) was a concert pianist and a former student
of Theodor Leschetizky. She belonged to the ancient dynasty that
traced its history back to Rurik; its founder, Semyon Feodorovich
Yaroslavskiy nicknamed Schetina (from the Russian schetina meaning
stubble), was the great-grandson of Vasili, Prince of Yaroslavl.
She died of tuberculosis when Alexander was only a year old.
After her death Nikolai Scriabin completed tuition in the Turkish
language in St. Petersburg's Institute of Oriental Languages and left
for Turkey. Like all of his relatives, he followed a military path and
served as a military attaché in the status of Active State
Councillor; he was appointed a honorary consul in
Lausanne during his
later years. Alexander's father left the infant Sasha (as he was
known) with his grandmother, great aunt, and aunt. Scriabin's father
would later remarry, giving Scriabin a number of half-brothers and
sisters. His aunt Lyubov (his father's unmarried sister) was an
amateur pianist who documented Sasha's early life until the time he
met his first wife. 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. He sometimes gave away pianos he had
built to house guests. Lyubov portrays Scriabin as very shy and
unsociable with his peers, but appreciative of adult attention.
Another anecdote tells of Scriabin trying to conduct an orchestra
composed of local children, an attempt that ended in frustration and
tears. He would perform his own amateur plays and operas with puppets
to willing audiences. He studied the piano from an early age, taking
lessons with Nikolai Zverev, a strict disciplinarian, who was also the
Sergei Rachmaninoff and other piano prodigies concurrently,
though Scriabin was not a pensionaire like Rachmaninoff.
Zverev's students in the late 1880s. Scriabin, with military attire,
is the second on the left. Rachmaninoff is the fourth from the right.
In 1882 he enlisted in the Second
Moscow Cadet Corps. As a student, he
became friends with the actor Leonid Limontov, although in his memoirs
Limontov recalls his reluctance to become friends with Scriabin, who
was the smallest and weakest among all the boys and was sometimes
teased due to his stature. However, Scriabin won his peers'
approval at a concert where he performed on the piano. He ranked
generally first in his class academically, but was exempt from
drilling due to his physique and was given time each day to practise
at the piano.
Scriabin 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. Feeling
challenged by Josef Lhévinne, he damaged his right hand while
practicing Franz Liszt's
Réminiscences de Don Juan and Mily
Balakirev's Islamey. His doctor said he would never recover, and
he wrote his first large-scale masterpiece, his Piano
Sonata No. 1 in
F minor, as a "cry against God, against fate." It was his third sonata
to be written, but the first to which he gave an opus number (his
second was condensed and released as the Allegro Appassionato, Op. 4).
He eventually regained the use of his hand.
In 1892 he graduated with the Little Gold Medal in piano performance,
but did not complete a composition degree because of strong
differences in personality and musical opinion with Arensky (whose
faculty signature is the only one absent from Scriabin's graduation
certificate) and an unwillingness to compose pieces in forms that did
not interest him.
Early career (1894–1903)
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 (he published works by notable composers such as Nikolai
Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov). 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 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
According to later reports, between 1901 and 1903 Scriabin envisioned
writing an opera. He talked a lot about it and expounded its ideas in
the course of normal conversation. The work would center around a
nameless hero, a philosopher-musician-poet. Among other things, he
would declare: I am the apotheosis of world creation. I am the aim of
aims, the end of ends. The Poem Op. 32 No. 2 and the Poème
Tragique Op. 34 were originally conceived as arias in the opera.
Leaving Russia (1903–09)
By the winter of 1904, Scriabin and his wife had relocated to
Switzerland, where he began work on the composition of his Symphony
No. 3. While living in Switzerland, Scriabin was separated legally
from his wife, with whom he had had four children. The work was
performed in Paris during 1905, where Scriabin was now accompanied by
Tatiana Fyodorovna Schloezer—a former pupil and the niece of Paul de
Schlözer. With Schloezer, he had other children, including a son
named Julian Scriabin, a precocious composer of several piano works
before he drowned in the
Dnieper River at Kiev in 1919 at the age of
With the financial assistance of a wealthy sponsor, he spent several
years travelling in Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium and the United
States, working on more orchestral pieces, including several
symphonies. He was also beginning to compose "poems" for the piano, a
form with which he is particularly associated. While in New York City,
in 1907, he became acquainted with the Canadian composer Alfred La
Liberté, who went on to become a personal friend and disciple.
In 1907, he settled in Paris with his family and was involved with a
series of concerts organized by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev, who
was actively promoting Russian music in the West at the time. He
relocated subsequently to
Brussels (rue de la Réforme 45) with his
Scriabin (sitting on the left of the table) as a guest at Wladimir
Metzl's home in Berlin, 1910
Return to Russia (1909–14)
In 1909 he returned to Russia permanently, where he continued to
compose, working on increasingly grandiose projects. For some time
before his death he had planned a multi-media work to be performed in
Himalaya Mountains, that would cause a so-called "armageddon," "a
grandiose religious synthesis of all arts which would herald the birth
of a new world." Scriabin left only sketches for this piece,
Mysterium, although a preliminary part, named L'acte préalable
("Prefatory Action") was eventually made into a performable version by
Alexander Nemtin. Part of that unfinished composition was
performed with the title 'Prefatory Action' by
Vladimir Ashkenazy in
Berlin with Aleksei Lyubimov at the piano. Nemtin eventually
completed a second portion ("Mankind") and a third
("Transfiguration"), and his entire two-and-a-half-hour completion was
recorded by Ashkenazy with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
for Decca. Several late pieces published during the composer's
lifetime are believed to have been intended for Mysterium, like the
Two Dances Op. 73.
Scriabin was small and reportedly frail throughout his life. In 1915,
at the age of 43, he died in
Moscow from septicemia as a result of a
sore on his upper lip. He had mentioned the sore as early as 1914
while in London. Immediately upon Scriabin's sudden death,
Rachmaninoff toured Russia in a series of all-Scriabin recitals. It
was the first time he had played music other than his own in public
and his efforts helped secure Scriabin's reputation as a great
List of compositions by Alexander Scriabin
List of compositions by Alexander Scriabin and
Category:Compositions by Alexander Scriabin
The beginning of Scriabin's Étude, Op. 8, No. 12
Étude Op. 8 No. 12"
Awadagin Pratt performs Alexander Scriabin's Étude, Op. 8, No. 12 at
White House Classical Music Student Workshop Concert. (2009-11-04)
Étude Op. 8 No. 12
Étude, Op. 8, No. 12. played by Domenico Stigliani
Problems playing these files? See media help.
Rather than seeking musical versatility, Scriabin was happy to write
almost exclusively for solo piano and for orchestra. His earliest
piano pieces resemble Frédéric Chopin's and include music in many
Chopin himself employed, such as the étude, the prelude,
the nocturne, and the mazurka. Scriabin's music progressively evolved
over the course of his life, although the evolution was very rapid and
especially brief when compared to most composers. Aside from his
earliest pieces, the mid- and late-period pieces use very unusual
harmonies and textures.
The development of Scriabin's style can be traced in his ten piano
sonatas: the earliest are composed in a fairly conventional
late-Romantic manner and reveal the influence of
Chopin and sometimes
Franz Liszt, but the later ones are very different, the last five
being written without a key signature. Many passages in them can be
said to be atonal, though from 1903 through 1908, "tonal unity was
almost imperceptibly replaced by harmonic unity."
First period (1880s–1903)
Scriabin's first period is usually described as going from his
earliest pieces up to his Second
Symphony Op. 29. The works from the
first period adhere to the romantic tradition, thus employing the
common practice period harmonic language. However, Scriabin's voice is
present from the very beginning, in this case by his fondness of the
dominant function and added tone chords.
Common spellings of the dominant chord and its extensions during the
common practice period. From left to right: dominant seventh, dominant
ninth, dominant thirteenth, dominant seventh with raised fifth,
dominant seventh with a rising chromatic appoggiatura on the fifth,
and dominant seventh flattened fifth.
Scriabin's early harmonic language was specially fond of the
thirteenth dominant chord, usually with the 7th, 3rd, and 13th spelled
in fourths. This voicing can also be seen in several of Chopin's
works. According to Peter Sabbagh, this voicing would be the main
generating source of the later Mystic chord. More importantly,
Scriabin was fond of simultaneously combining two or more of the
different dominant seventh enhancings, like 9ths, altered 5ths, and
raised 11ths. However, despite these tendencies, slightly more
dissonant than usual for the time, all these dominant chords were
treated according to the traditional rules: the added tones resolved
to the corresponding adjacent notes, and the whole chord was treated
as a dominant, fitting inside tonality and diatonic, functional
Examples of enhanced dominant chords in Scriabin's early work.
Extracted from the Mazurkas Op. 3 (1888–1890): No. 1, mm. 19–20,
68; No. 4, mm. 65–67.
Second period (1903–07)
This period begins with Scriabin's Fourth Piano
Sonata Op. 30, and
ends around his Fifth
Sonata Op. 53 and the
Poem of Ecstasy
Poem of Ecstasy Op. 54,
which are considered transitional works.[by whom?] During this period,
Scriabin's music becomes more chromatic and dissonant, yet still
mostly adhering to traditional functional tonality. As dominant chords
are more and more extended, they gradually lose their tensive
function. Scriabin wanted his music to have a radiant, shining feeling
to it, and achieved this by raising the number of chord tones. During
this time, complex forms like the mystic chord are hinted at, but
still show their roots as Chopinesque harmony.
At first, the added dissonances are resolved conventionally according
to voice leading, but the focus slowly shifts towards a system in
which chord coloring is most important. Later on, fewer dissonances on
the dominant chords are resolved. According to Sabbanagh, "the
dissonances are frozen, solidified in a color-like effect in the
chord"; the added notes become part of it.
Third period (1907–15)
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.
According to Samson, while the sonata-form of Scriabin's
Sonata No. 5
has some meaning to the work's tonal structure, in his
Sonata No. 6
Sonata No. 7 formal tensions are created by the absence of
harmonic contrast and "between the cumulative momentum of the music,
usually achieved by textural rather than harmonic means, and the
formal constraints of the tripartite mould". He also argues that the
Poem of Ecstasy
Poem of Ecstasy and
Vers la flamme "find a much happier co-operation
of 'form' and 'content'" and that later sonatas, such as No. 9, employ
a more flexible sonata-form.
According to Claude Herdon, in Scriabin's late music "tonality has
been attenuated to the point of virtual extinction, although dominant
sevenths, which are among the strongest indicators of tonality,
preponderate. The progression of their roots in minor thirds or
diminished fifths [...] dissipate the suggested tonality."
The acoustic and octatonic scales, and their combination
[The Mystic chord] is not a dominant chord, but a basic chord, a
consonance. It is true—it sounds soft, like a consonance.
In former times the chords were arranged by thirds or, which is the
same, by sixths. But I decided to construct them by fourths or, which
is the same, by fifths.
Varvara Dernova argues that "The tonic continued to exist, and, if
necessary, the composer could employ it [...] but in the great
majority of cases, he preferred the concept of a tonic in distant
perspective, so to speak, rather than the actually sounding tonic
[...] The relationship of the tonic and dominant functions in
Scriabin's work is changed radically; for the dominant actually
appears and has a varied structure, while the tonic exists only as if
in the imagination of the composer, the performer, and the
Most of the music of this period is built on the acoustic and
octatonic scales, as well as the nine-note scale resulting from their
Philosophical influences and influence of colour
Scriabin was interested in Friedrich Nietzsche's
and later became interested in theosophy. Both would influence his
music and musical thought. During 1909–10 he lived in Brussels,
becoming interested in Jean Delville's Theosophist philosophy and
continuing his reading of Helena Blavatsky.
Theosophist and composer
Dane Rudhyar wrote that Scriabin was "the one
great pioneer of the new music of a reborn Western civilization, the
father of the future musician", and an antidote to "the Latin
reactionaries and their apostle, Stravinsky" and the "rule-ordained"
music of "Schoenberg's group." Scriabin developed his
own very personal and abstract mysticism based on the role of the
artist in relation to perception and life affirmation. His ideas on
reality seem similar to Platonic and Aristotelian theory though much
less coherent. The main sources of his philosophy can be found in his
numerous unpublished notebooks, one in which he famously wrote "I am
God". As well as jottings there are complex and technical diagrams
explaining his metaphysics. Scriabin also used poetry as a means in
which to express his philosophical notions, though arguably much of
his philosophical thought was translated into music, the most
recognizable example being the
Sonata ("the Black Mass").
Keys arranged in a circle of fifths in order to show the relationship
with the visible spectrum in Scriabin's variant of synesthesia
Though Scriabin's late works are often considered to be influenced by
synesthesia, a condition wherein one experiences sensation in one
sense in response to stimulus in another, it is doubted that Scriabin
actually experienced this. His colour system, unlike most
synesthetic experience, accords with the circle of fifths: it was a
thought-out system based on Sir Isaac Newton's Opticks.[clarification
needed] 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).[clarification needed] 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.
In his autobiographical Recollections,
Sergei Rachmaninoff recorded a
conversation he had had with Scriabin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
about Scriabin's association of colour and music. Rachmaninoff was
surprised to find that Rimsky-Korsakov agreed with Scriabin on
associations of musical keys with colors; himself skeptical,
Rachmaninoff made the obvious objection that the two composers did not
always agree on the colours involved. Both maintained that the key of
D major was golden-brown; but Scriabin linked E-flat major with
red-purple, while Rimsky-Korsakov favored blue. However,
Rimsky-Korsakov protested that a passage in Rachmaninoff's opera The
Miserly Knight accorded with their claim: the scene in which the Old
Baron opens treasure chests to reveal gold and jewels glittering in
torchlight is written in D major. Scriabin told Rachmaninoff that
"your intuition has unconsciously followed the laws whose very
existence you have tried to deny."
While Scriabin wrote only a small number of orchestral works, they are
among his most famous, and some are performed frequently. They include
a piano concerto (1896), and five symphonic works, including three
numbered symphonies as well as The
Poem of Ecstasy
Poem of Ecstasy (1908) and
Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (1910), which includes a part for a
machine known as a "clavier à lumières", known also as a Luce
(Italian for "Light"), which was a colour organ designed specifically
for the performance of Scriabin's tone poem. It was played like a
piano, but projected coloured light on a screen in the concert hall
rather than sound. Most performances of the piece (including the
premiere) have not included this light element, although a performance
in New York City in 1915 projected colours onto a screen. It has been
claimed erroneously that this performance used the colour-organ
invented by English painter A. Wallace Rimington when in fact it was a
novel construction supervised personally and built in New York
specifically for the performance by Preston S. Miller, the president
of the Illuminating Engineering Society.
On November 22, 1969, the work was fully realized making use of the
composer’s color score as well as newly developed laser technology
on loan from Yale’s Physics Department, by
John Mauceri and the Yale
Symphony Orchestra and designed by Richard N. Gould, who projected the
colors into the auditorium that were reflected by the Mylar vests worn
by the audience. The Yale
Symphony repeated the presentation in
1971  and brought the work to Paris that year for what was perhaps
its Paris premiere at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées. The piece
was reprised at Yale once again in 2010 (as conceived by Anna M.
Gawboy on YouTube, who, with Justin Townsend, has published
‘Scriabin and the Possible’).
Scriabin's original colour keyboard, with its associated turntable of
coloured lamps, is preserved in his apartment near the
Moscow, which is now a museum dedicated to his life and works.
Recordings and performers
Autograph signature, from the manuscript of Two Poems, Op. 62. The
composer uses the French spelling "Scriabine".
Scriabin himself made recordings of 19 of his own works, using 20
piano rolls, six for the Welte-Mignon, and 14 for Ludwig Hupfeld of
Leipzig. The Welte rolls were recorded during early February 1910,
in Moscow, and have been replayed and published on CD. Those recorded
for Hupfeld include the piano sonatas Op. 19 and 23. While this
indirect evidence of Scriabin's pianism prompted a mixed critical
reception, close analysis of the recordings within the context of the
limitations of the particular piano roll technology can shed light on
the free style that he favoured for the performance of his own works,
characterized by extemporary variations in tempo, rhythm,
articulation, dynamics, and sometimes even the notes themselves.
Pianists who have performed Scriabin to particular critical acclaim
include Vladimir Sofronitsky,
Vladimir Horowitz and Sviatoslav
Richter. Sofronitsky never met the composer, as his parents forbade
him to attend a concert due to illness. The pianist said he never
forgave them; but he did marry Scriabin's daughter Elena. According to
Horowitz, when he played for the composer as an 11-year-old child,
Scriabin responded enthusiastically and encouraged him to pursue a
full musical and artistic education. When Sergei Rachmaninoff
performed Scriabin's music his playing style was criticized by the
composer and his admirers as being earthbound.
Surveys of the solo piano works have been recorded by Gordon
Fergus-Thompson, Pervez Mody, Maria Lettberg, and Michael Ponti. The
complete published sonatas have also been recorded by, among others,
Dmitri Alexeev, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Håkon Austbø, Boris Berman,
Bernd Glemser, Marc-André Hamelin, Yakov Kasman, Ruth Laredo, John
Ogdon, Roberto Szidon, Robert Taub, Anatol Ugorski, Mikhail
Voskresensky, and Igor Zhukov.
Other prominent performers of his piano music include Samuil Feinberg,
Nikolai Demidenko, Marta Deyanova, Sergio Fiorentino, Andrei Gavrilov,
Emil Gilels, Glenn Gould, Andrej Hoteev, Evgeny Kissin, Anton Kuerti,
Piers Lane, Eric Le Van, Alexander Melnikov, Stanislav Neuhaus, Artur
Pizarro, Mikhail Pletnev, Jonathan Powell, Burkard Schliessmann,
Grigory Sokolov, Yevgeny Sudbin, Matthijs Verschoor, Arcadi Volodos,
Evgeny Zarafiants and Margarita Shevchenko.
In 2015, German-Australian pianist Stefan Ammer, as a part of The
Scriabin Project Concert Series, joined forces alongside his pupils
Konstantin Shamray and Ashley Hribar to honour the
Russian composer at various venues across Australia.
Reception and influence
Scriabin's funeral, on 16 April 1915, was attended by such numbers
that tickets had to be issued. Rachmaninoff, who was a pallbearer at
the funeral, subsequently went on tour, playing only Scriabin's music,
for the benefit of the family.
Sergei Prokofiev admired the
composer, and his
Visions fugitives bears great likeness to Scriabin's
tone and style. Another admirer was the English
composer Kaikhosru Sorabji, who promoted Scriabin even during the
years when his popularity had decreased greatly.
Aaron Copland praised
Scriabin's thematic material as "truly individual, truly inspired",
but criticized Scriabin for putting "this really new body of feeling
into the strait-jacket of the old classical sonata-form,
recapitulation and all", calling this "one of the most extraordinary
mistakes in all music."
Prélude Op. 11, No. 1
Prélude Op. 11, No. 2
Mazurka Op. 40, No. 2
Prelude No. 1, Op. 67
Performed by Jennifer Castellano. Courtesy of Musopen, 1.87 mB
Problems playing these files? See media help.
The work of Nikolai Roslavets, unlike that of Prokofiev and
Stravinsky, is often seen as a direct extension of Scriabin's. Unlike
Scriabin's, however, Roslavets' music was not explained with mysticism
and eventually was given theoretical explication by the composer.
Roslavets was not alone in his innovative extension of Scriabin's
musical language, however, as quite a few Soviet composers and
pianists such as Samuil Feinberg, Sergei Protopopov, Nikolai
Alexander Mosolov followed this legacy until Stalinist
politics quelled it in favor of Socialist Realism.
Scriabin's music was greatly disparaged in the West during the 1930s.
Adrian Boult refused to play the Scriabin selections chosen by the
BBC programmer Edward Clark, calling it "evil music", and even issued
a ban on Scriabin's music from broadcasts in the 1930s. In 1935,
Gerald Abraham described Scriabin as a "sad pathological case, erotic
and egotistic to the point of mania". Scriabin has since undergone
a total rehabilitation.
Roger Scruton described Scriabin as "one of the greatest of
Relatives and descendants
Scriabin with Tatiana, 1909
Julian Scriabin and Ariadna Scriabina, 1913
Scriabin's children from Tatiana: Julian, Marina and Ariadna, c. 1913
Scriabin was the uncle of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom of Sourozh, a
renowned bishop in the
Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church who directed the
Russian Orthodox diocese in Great Britain between 1957 and 2003.
Scriabin was not a relative of Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs
Vyacheslav Molotov, whose birth name was Vyacheslav Skryabin. In his
memoirs published by Felix Chuyev under the Russian title
"Молотов, Полудержавный властелин",
Molotov explains that his brother Nikolay Skryabin, who was also a
composer, had adopted the name Nikolay Nolinsky in order not to be
confused with Alexander Scriabin.
Scriabin's second wife Tatiana Fyodorovna Schlözer was the niece of
the pianist and possible composer Paul de Schlözer. Her brother was
the music critic Boris de Schlözer. Scriabin had seven children in
total: from his first marriage Rimma (Rima), Elena, Maria and Lev, and
from his second Ariadna, Julian and Marina. Rimma died of intestinal
issues in 1905 at the age of seven. Elena Scriabina was to become
the first wife of the pianist Vladimir Sofronitsky, though only after
her father's death; hence Sofronitsky never met the composer. Maria
Skryabina (1901–1989) became an actress at the Second
Theatre and the wife of director Vladimir Tatarinov. Lev also died at
the age of seven, in 1910. At this point, relations with Scriabin's
first wife had significantly deteriorated, and Scriabin did not meet
her at the funeral.
Ariadna Scriabina co-founded the
Armée Juive and was killed by the
French pro-Nazi milice in 1944.
Ariadna Scriabina (1906–1944) became a hero of
the French Resistance, and was posthumously awarded the Croix de
guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance. Her third marriage was to
the poet and WWII Resistance fighter
David Knut after which she
Judaism and took the name Sarah. She co-founded the
Zionist resistance movement
Armée Juive and was responsible for
communications between the command in Toulouse and the partisan forces
in the Tarn district and for taking weapons to the partisans, which
resulted in her death when she was ambushed by the French Militia.
Ariadna Scriabina's daughter (by her first marriage to French composer
David Lazarus), Betty Knut-Lazarus, became a famous teenage heroine of
the French Resistance, personally winning the
Silver Star from George
S. Patton, as well as the French Croix de guerre. After the war she
became an active member of the Zionist Lehi (Stern Gang), undertaking
special operations for the militant group and she was imprisoned in
1947 for launching a terrorist letter bomb campaign against British
targets, and planting explosives on British ships which had been
trying to prevent Jewish immigrants from travelling to Mandatory
Palestine. Regarded as a heroine in France, she was released
prematurely, but was imprisoned a year later in
Israel for being
allegedly involved in the killing of Folke Bernadotte, but the
charges were subsequently dropped. After her release from prison, she
settled at the age of 23 in
Beersheba in Southern Israel, where she
had three children and she founded a nightclub which became the
cultural centre of Beersheba, before her early death at the age of
In total, three of Ariadna Scriabina's children immigrated to Israel
after the war, where her son Eli (born 1935) became a sailor in the
Israeli Navy and a noted classical guitarist, while her son Joseph
(Yossi) (born 1943) served in the Israeli special forces, before
becoming a poet, publishing many poems dedicated to his mother
Ariadna. One of her great-grandsons, via Betty (Elizabeth) Lazarus,
Elisha Abas, is an Israeli concert pianist.
Julian Scriabin, a child prodigy, was a composer and pianist in his
own right, but he died by drowning at the age of eleven in
20th century classical music
Music written in all 24 major and minor keys
Synesthesia in art
^ Scientific transliteration: Aleksandr Nikolaevič Skrjabin; also
transliterated variously as Skriabin, Skryabin, and (in French)
Scriabine. The composer himself used the French spelling "Scriabine",
which was also the most popular spelling used in English-language
publications during his lifetime. First editions of his works used the
Romanizations "Scriabine", "Scriàbine", and "Skrjábin".
^ "Scriabin". Merriam-Webster Online. Encyclopædia Britannica.
Retrieved 6 February 2014.
"Scriabin". Random House Dictionary. Dictionary.com. Retrieved 6
^ The British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore, in footnote 62, page
39 of his book Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2003) takes issue
with the common claim of Scriabin being a "cousin" or a "relative" of
Vyacheslav Molotov, born Vyacheslav Mikhaylovich Skryabin. (Translated
from a note of this article on the French WP.)
^ Scriabin, Extensive Biography. Pianosociety.com. Retrieved December
^ E. E. Garcia (2004): Rachmaninoff and Scriabin: Creativity and
Suffering in Talent and Genius. Psychoanalytic Review, 91: 423–42.
^ Bowers, Faubion (1966). "Scriabin Again and Again". Aspen Magazine.
New York: Roaring Fork Press (2). OCLC 50534422. Retrieved 14
^ a b c d e f g h i Bowers, Faubion (1996). Scriabin, a Biography. New
York: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-28897-0.
^ Powell, Jonathan. "Skryabin, Aleksandr Nikolayevich". Grove Music
Online. Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5
February 2014. (Subscription required (help)).
^ a b Ivan Grezin. Nikolai Scriabin: First Russian Consul in Lausanne
article from NashaGazeta.ch, November 23, 2011 (in Russian and French)
Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Academy of Sciences (1994). Cultural Heritage of the Russian
Emigration, 1917–1940. Volume 1 // ed. by Eugene Chelyshev, Dmitry
Shakhovskoy. Moscow: Nasledie, p. 507–509 ISBN 5-201-13219-7
^ Velvet Book. Chapter 11, 59–70: Yaroslvaskiy and Schetinin
families at Genealogia.ru (in Russian)
^ a b
Yuri Khanon (1995). Scriabin As a Face. St. Petersburg: Liki
Rossii, p. 13 ISBN 5-87417-026-Х
^ a b Scholes, Percy (1969) . Crotchets: A Few Short Musical
Notes. Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press. p. 141.
ISBN 978-0-7222-5836-1. OCLC 855415. ISBN is for
January 2001 edition.
^ Bowers, Faubion. The New Scriabin. p. 47.
^ The Concise Edition of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians,
8th ed. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York, Schirmer Books, 1993.
p. 921 ISBN 0-02-872416-X
^ Gilles Potvin. "Alfred La Liberté". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Retrieved 22 April 2010. [dead link]
^ Minderovic, Zoran. "Alexander Scriabin". Biography. Allmusic.
Retrieved 9 December 2007.
^ Benson, Robert E. (October 2000). "Scriabin's Mysterium". Nuances.
Preparation for The Final Mystery. Classical CD Review. Archived from
the original on 30 December 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2007.
^ Shelokhonov, Steve. "Alexander Scriabin". Mini Biography. Internet
Movie Database. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
^ Bowers, 1969 & 2:264.
^ Roberts, Peter Deane (2002). Aleksandr Skryabin. Connecticut:
Greenwood Press. p. 483.
^ MacDonald, p. 7
^ a b c Samson, Jim (1977). Music in Transition: A Study of Tonal
Expansion and Atonality, 1900–1920. New York: W. W. Norton &
Company. ISBN 978-0-393-02193-6. OCLC 3240273.
^ Samson, Jim (1977). Music in Transition: A Study of Tonal Expansion
and Atonality, 1900–1920. W.W. Norton & Company.
pp. 156–157. ISBN 0-393-02193-9.
^ a b c d e f Sabbagh, Peter (2001). The Development of
Scriabin's Works. ISBN 1-58112-595-X.
^ a b Sabbagh 2003, p. 16.
^ Sabbagh 2003, pp. 17–18.
^ Sabbagh 2003, p. 24.
^ Taken from Musik-Konzepte 32/33, p. 8.
^ Hedon, Claude (1982–83). Skryabin's New Harmonic Language in his
Sixth Sonata. Journal of Musicological Research. p. 354.
^ a b Kallis, Vasily (2008). Principles of Pitch Organization in
Scriabin's Early Post-tonal Period: The Piano Miniatures. 14. Society
for Music Theory.
^ Sabbagh 2003, p. 40.
^ a b Leonid Sabaneev, Vospominanija o Skrjabine,
Moscow 1925, p. 47,
quoted in Musik-Konzepte 32/33, p. 8.
^ Guenther, Roy J. (1979). Varvara Dernova's Garmoniia Skriabina: A
Translation and Critical Commentary. Ph.D. Dissertation, Catholic
University of America. p. 67.
^ *Harrison, John (2001). Synaesthesia: The Strangest Thing,
ISBN 0-19-263245-0: "In fact, there is considerable doubt about
the legitimacy of Scriabin's claim, or rather the claims made on his
behalf, as we shall discuss in Chapter 5." (pp. 31–32).
^ B. M. Galeyev and I. L. Vanechkina (August 2001). "Was Scriabin a
Synesthete?", Leonardo[permanent dead link], Vol. 34, Issue 4, pp.
357–362: "authors conclude that the nature of Scriabin's
'color-tonal' analogies was associative, i.e. psychological;
accordingly, the existing belief that Scriabin was a distinctive,
unique 'synesthete' who really saw the sounds of music—that is,
literally had an ability for 'co-sensations'—is placed in doubt."
^ Ballard, Lincoln M. "A Russian Mystic in the Age of Aquarius: The
U.S. Revival of
Alexander Scriabin in the 1960s". Project Muse. Johns
Hopkins University. Retrieved 11 November 2014. [permanent dead
^ Frisch, Walter (February 22, 1971). "'Prometheus' Transcends". Yale
^ Gawboy, Anna M.; Townsend, Justin (June 2012). "Scriabin and The
Possible". Society for Music Theory.
^ "Alexander Skryabin Museum – legacy of great composer: facts and
^ Smith, Charles Davis (1994). The Welte-Mignon: Its Music and
Musicians. Vestal, New York: The Vestal Press, for the Automatic
Musical Instrument Collectors' Association.
^ Sitsky, Larry (1990). The Classical Reproducing Piano Roll.
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-25496-6.
^ Leikin, Anatole (1996). "The Performance of Scriabin's Piano Music:
Evidence from the Piano Rolls". Performance Practice Review. 9 (1):
97–113. ISSN 1044-1638. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
^ Horowitz plays Scriabin in
Moscow on YouTube
^ Rimm, p. 145
^ Downes, p. 99
^ Michael Steen (2011). The Lives and Times of the Great Composers.
Icon Books. ISBN 978-1848311350.
^ Copland, Aaron (1957). What to Listen for in Music. New York:
McGraw-Hill. OCLC 269329.
^ Richard Taruskin (20 February 2005). "Restoring Comrade Roslavets".
The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
^ Ballard, Lincoln. "Lincoln Ballard, ''Defining Moments: Vicissitudes
in Scriabin's Twentieth-Century Reception''". Academia.edu. Retrieved
14 April 2014.
^ Scruton, Roger (2009). Understanding Music: Philosophy and
Interpretation. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
p. 183. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
^ Pryanishnikov and Tompakov (1985). Летопись жизни и
творчества А. Н.Скрябина [Chronicles of the Life
and Art of A. N. Scriabin] (in Russian). Muzyka.
^ ”Blushed at Bomb Plot Charge”. 26 August 1948, Morning Bulletin.
^ Lazaris, V. (2000). Три женщины. Tel Aviv: Lado, pp.
^ בטי קנוט־לזרוס – סיפורה של לוחמת
נשכחת Oded Bar-Meir, 05.05.11
Elisha Abas – the official website". Archived from the original
on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (1993). The Concise Edition of Baker's
Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 8th ed. New York: Schirmer
Ballard, Lincoln and Matthew Bengtson with John Bell Young (2017). The
Alexander Scriabin Companion: History, Performance, and Lore. Lanham,
MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-3262-4.
Downes, Stephen (2010). Music and Decadence in European Modernism: The
Case of Central and Eastern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76757-6.
Macdonald, Hugh (1978). Skryabin. Oxford studies of composers (15).
Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-315438-2.
Rimm, Robert (2002). The Composer-pianists: Hamelin and The Eight.
Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 978-1-57467-072-1.
Sabbagh, Peter (2003). The Development of
Harmony in Scriabin's Works.
Universal-Publishers. ISBN 1-58112-595-X.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Alexander Scriabin
Wikisource has the text of a 1922
Encyclopædia Britannica article
about Alexander Scriabin.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alexander Scriabin.
Aleksandr Scriabin at Encyclopædia Britannica
UK Scriabin Association
Scriabin Society of America
Brief biography and sound files on Ubuweb
Alexander Scriabin discography at MusicBrainz
Works by or about
Alexander Scriabin in libraries (
Scriabin Liner Notes Russian-born pianist
Yevgeny Sudbin discusses
Scriabin's work and life.
Free scores by
Alexander Scriabin at the International Music Score
Library Project (IMSLP)
Scriabin's Sheet Music by Mutopia Project
www.kreusch-sheet-music.net – Free Scores by Alexander Scriabin
Scriabin's own recording of the third and fourth Movements from his
Piano Sonata, no. 3, Op. 23 (The Pianola Institute)
Piano Rolls (The Reproducing Piano Roll Foundation)
Symphony No. 1 in E major
Symphony No. 2 in C minor
Symphony No. 3 in C minor (The Divine Poem)
The Poem of Ecstasy
Prometheus: The Poem of Fire
Piano Concerto in F-sharp minor
Étude in C-sharp minor
Étude in D-sharp minor
Prelude in C major
Prelude in E minor
Prelude in E major
Prelude in C-sharp minor
Prelude in F major
Prelude in A minor
Prelude Op. 59 No. 2
Prelude, Op. 74, No. 2
Fantaisie in B minor
Nocturne in A-flat
Sonata-Fantaisie in G-sharp minor
Vers la flamme
Named for Scriabin
List of compositions
Synesthesia in art
Hans Werner Henze
John J. Becker
Ruth Crawford Seeger
Mozart Camargo Guarnieri
Modes of limited transposition
Quartal and quintal harmony
See also: Modernist composers
ISNI: 0000 0001 2281 7132
BNF: cb13899609r (data)