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Alexander Scriabin (1871 - 1915)

Alexander Scriabin considered himself to be a messianic figure, and he was actually half justified—he really was born on Christmas Day 1871, but several Russian biographers, in an overzealous attempt to enhance this messianic reputation, erroneously attribute the date of his death to Easter Sunday, April 14, 1915, when in actuality, Easter Sunday came early that year, on March 29. He died amidst the immense conflagration that was gripping all of Europe at the time—the “Great” War, which he thought would purge mankind and usher in a glorious new era of mystical wonder. Inspired by Wagner’s ideas concerning Gesamntkunstwerk, he even planned on composing a mammoth piece, the Mysterium, to commemorate this cataclysmic event. “The performance of this piece was to take place in a half-temple to be built in India. Bells suspended from clouds would summon the spectators from all over the world. A reflecting pool of water would complete the divinity of the half-circle stage. Spectators would sit in tiers across the water. Scriabin would be seated at the piano, surrounded by hosts of instrumentalists, singers, and dancers. Costumed speakers reciting text in processions and parades would form part of the action along with the dancers, whose choreography would include eye motions and touches of the hands in conjunction with odors of both pleasant perfume and acrid smoke. Pillars of incense would form part of the scenery. A light show, bathing the cast and audience in changing effects would also be included.” Unfortunately he died before completing this work, only a fraction of this revolutionary piece, the Prefatory Action was sketched out (it was completed by Alexander Nemtin).

- Koji Attwood

Complete biography by Koji Attwood

Recordings.

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