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Alexander Scriabin

Alexander Scriabin

Biography

The musical language of Alexander Scriabin was unique and exotic from the outset, and over the course of his career became even more so. This Russian pianist/composer born in 1871 was deeply influenced by the spiritual mysticism of his day, and explored an otherly world through his music. Compositions such as his Third Symphony, The Divine Poem deal with subjects like pantheism vs. monotheism, and late in life his intentions were to create holistic religious events, not unlike ancient Mediterranean pagan rites, infused with music, dancing, colors, and smells. Part of his eccentricity was his claim to experience synesthesia, the bleeding of one sensory experience into another; thus he equated colors, as in red, blue, or yellow, with certain tones and key relationships. F sharp, for example, he experienced as blue, and C major as red. This experience inspired the creation of a color organ, a keyboard type device that projected colors upon a screen, depending upon the chords played. However, it wasn't until the 1970s that a similar device actually succeeded at a performance, due to the necessary technology involved. His influence upon the Western tradition is perhaps felt mostly in spirit, rather than in his unique and fascinating harmonic language.
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