University of Tasmania
whole_VossJames1989_thesis.pdf (2.03 MB)

Scriabin in context

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posted on 2023-05-27, 14:27 authored by Voss, J
The purpose of this research project is to present a background to the composer Alexander Scriabin and his compositions. His life and works have been well documented although less has been written on the forces which affected his life and compositions. It is the writer's opinion that a purely technical dissection of his scores or a chronological recording of the events of his life will not shed much light on the music itself. The Diaries reveal a great deal of the man and his sometimes complicated philosophies as do the numerous letters which have survived him. What a tragedy that his playing was not recorded acoustically as by 1915 the technological facility to do so was of a high order. Our reliance on the many ambiguous accounts of his playing by those that heard him could then be gratefully 'cast into the hedge'. In this document Scriabin emerges as a child of the nineteenth century and a pathfinder to modernism in the twentieth century. His music begins in the chromatic meliodic tradition of Chopin and ends at the brink of atonality. The origins of the bitter acrimony between the Russian Nationalist composers, predominantly the Big Five and the pro-Western or Eurasian composers, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, are traced back to the time of Peter the Great. Parallels are suggested in the field of fine art with the World of Art looking to the West for inspiration and the group known as the Wanderers looking to Russian folklore and history for their roots. The reforming zeal with which the composer strove to convert those around him has done much to hinder an appreciation of the music itself. The lucidity of his compositions contrasts sharply with the convolutions of his mystical theosophy with which he became progressively more obsessed. Interest in the supernatural and strange nervous afflictions were common amongst wealthy Russians at the turn of the century and it is against this background that Scriabin's mysticism and symbolism are identified in this document. Discussion of his works attempts to trace the transient musical influences of other composers such as Chopin, Wagner and Liszt. His detractors called his piano compositions parodies of Chopin. It is submitted that they resemble his Polish idol far less than, for example, early Beethoven resembles Haydn. In the end, I feel, Scriabin's music must stand as a unique testament to an extraordinary man.


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Copyright 1988 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Bibliography: leaves 61-62. Catalogue of works : leaves 63-75. Thesis (MMus)--University of Tasmania, 1989

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