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ML 410.S623H9T"""' "^""^ 
* SmmmmmiSliSrSP^K Scriabin' 

3 1924 022 193 431 

Cornell University 

The original of tliis bool< is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 

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Xfbrars of /ftusfc an^ /ftusfcfans 


A. EAGLEFIELD HULL, Mus. Doc. (OxoN.) 

Crown Svo. Occasionally illustrated 

HANDEL. By Rohain Rolland 


BEETHOVEN. By Romaim Rolland 

BACH. By the Editok. {Siartly) 

MUSSORGSKY. By M. P. Calvocoressi. [Shortiyi 

BRITISH COMPOSERS. (Pint Series.) By the Editor. iSharily) 


TL\)z ;flDusfc Xover's Xf&rars 

A series of small books on various musical subjects written in a popular style 
for the general reader 


A. EAGLEFIELD HULL, Mus. Doc. (Oxon.) 
Each about tea f ages 





By Charles Macfhbkson, F.R.A.M., Organist St. Paul's Cathedral 


By R. R. Terry, Mus. Doc. (Dublin), Director of Music at the Pro- 
Cathedral, Westminster 

5. MUSIC AND RELIGION. By W. W. Longpord, D.D., M.A. 





xs. MUSICAL ACOUSTICS. By D. Segaller, D.Sc. (Lond.) 




A Great Russian Tone- Poet 






"l\V> • ., < / 












I. Introduction .... 
II. The Musical Awakening in Russia . 

III. The Exposition : Scriabin's Parentage 

AND Childhood 

IV. First Subject : Scriabin's Studentship 
— V. Development : A Man with an Idea 
^ VI. Coda : The Last Years 


VII. The Early Works . ... 

VIII. The Works of the Transition Period . 

— .IX. The "Mystic Chord" . 

— ^ The Ten Sonatas ... 

-^ XI. The Five Symphonies . ... 

~--.XII. The Hater Piano Pieces (Opp. 52 to 74) . 

XIII. Music and Colour . ... 

XIV. Form and Style . ... 
XV. His Orchestration and Vocal Writing . 

XVI. The Sources of His Inspiration 

XVI I. Scriabin's Position in Music . 

XVIII. Future Possibilities . ... 

Postscript . . ... 


I. Symphonies and Sonatas 

II. The Complete Works 

III. Notes on the Complete Pianoforte 

Works . . ... 

IV. Approximate Pronunciation of the Rus- 

sian Names Mentioned in the Text . 
Index . . ... 














The author lays no claim to have written a full 
biography of Scriabin. The material to hand was 
not sufficient for this ; and many channels of in- 
formation were closed by the great European war. 
Scriabin domiciled in at least three countries — 
Russia, Switzerland, and Belgium ; and toured in 
eight foreign lands. One of his aims has been to 
furnish an account of some of the most interesting 
and important experiments which have ever been 
made in musical "art. Scriabin's activities were 
many-sided and far-reaching ; and, in one respect 
at least, he may be said to have himself consummated 
the possibilities of their application. 

Many people have wondered where the purely 
physical development of music on the lines adopted 
by Debussy and others was leading us ; Scriabin 
shows us its fullest possibilities — and its limitations. 
He gives us a completely new system of harmony ; 
he abolishes the major and minor modes ; he anni- 
hilates modulation and chromatic inflection ; he 
abandons all key-signatures ; and finally applies his 
ideas to the most modern scale we have reached so 
far, i.e. the " Duodecuple." Moreover, at the time 
of his death he was experimenting with the unifica- 
tion of the various arts of sound, light, and bodily 



movement {mimique) ; and, as if all this were not 
enough, wove a system of theosophy into the art 
of his latest period. Although probably too much 
account has been taken of the latter, yet surely the 
sum-total of Scriabin's work has brought about an 
artistic revolution unequalled in the whole history 
of the arts. 

As one of the chief aims of the book is the 
further spreading of the knowledge of Scriabin's 
work, only those biographical details are sup- 
plied which have a direct bearing on his crea- 
tions. Much of his life-story had to be pieced 
together bit by bit ; and half the charm in writing 
the book was the dovetailing of English, French, 
and Russian newspaper reports, articles from 
periodicals, etc., into the very incomplete sketches 
of Mr. Eugen Gunst. Some of it is mere con- 
jecture — a dangerous plan in biography in general 
— ^but reasonable enough when only applied to such 
minor details as humdrum Conservatoire courses, 

The author has been greatly indebted to the 
writings of Mr. Leon Sabanieff as well as Mr. Eugen 
Gunst ; to his correspondent Miss Ellen von Tidebohl 
of Moscow ; and also to his friend Mr. W. Bray for 
much help with translations, etc. These acknow- 
ledgments apply mainly to Chapters III to VI. 
For the rest — analysis, technique, and aesthetics — 
he takes the full responsibility on his own 
shoulders. The " first person " has been used with 
appreciations and criticisms in order to prevent the 
reader from accepting the opinions as dogmatic or 


in any way final. Any aesthetic musical criticism 
which claims to be more than a personal expression 
is to his mind hollow and insincere. Especially 
would this be the case with so recent a composer as 
Scriabin. There must be the same general con- 
sensus of approval of the later works of Scriabin by 
musicians, as there is with the earlier works, before 
we can clearly decide his place amongst the greatest 
in music. 

At present there is certain to be a small minority 
of the older musicians to whom aU modern music is 
distasteful. For these, it is hoped that the present 
book may at least place them into a position with 
Scriabin's music similar to that of the Russian 
Greneral regarding Wagner's music. He " didn't 
like it, but he wasn't afraid of it." 

The Russian dates have been used throughout for 
all events except the London Concerts. To arrive at 
the correct Western dates, add thirteen days to the 
given date. No apology is made for the spelling of 
Russian names. It is quite impossible to write 
some of them correctly in English. No two writers 
render them alike, and even Russian scholars differ. 

There remains to be acknowledged the great 
help so readily given by the composer's friend 
and English host Mr. Kling, of Messrs. Chester and 
Co., Great Marlborough Street, W. The portraits 
of Scriabin are produced by his kind permission. 

A. E. H. 



Have you ever considered what a truly wonderful 
and deeply mystical thing a musical sound is ? If 
you sprinkle some light sand on a pianoforte lid or, 
better still, on a specially arranged vibration plate, 
and strike a complete chord, the sand wUl begin to 
dance about and finally settle down into a beautiful 
geometrical pattern ; strike another chord and the 
gyrating sand will finally dispose itself into a set of 
four roses or something equally interesting. Now 
thump the piano lid with your fist and the sand 
will heap itself up anyhow. That represehts the 
difference between musical sound and noise. 

But perhaps the most mystical part of sound and 
light too is that there is no such material at all. 
Both are vibration interpreted differently. That 
is all. 

If you were to start the full organ in Westminster 
Abbey going by some mecha.nical process and go 
away closing the Abbey to everyone, but leaving 
the organ going|at full blast, the Abbey would be 


soundless. Why ? Because to complete the Sound 
mystery, you must have a participant who will be a 
mental interpreter before you obtain any sound 
at all. 

This brings to mind that wonderful little " Corti's 
organ " — a sort of piano keyboard — inside every- 
one's ear, the hundred little keys of which are fl5dng 
up and down recording sensitory impressions all 
day long ! 

Then what a wonderful thing is the S3anpathetic 
vibration of sound — ^a close analogy to the resultants 
of two adjacent complementary colours in painting ! 
That Sfevres vase there on my mantelpiece might 
be broken without any physical contact whatsoever 
— just by standing on the other side of the room 
and playing the right note on a violin. 

Further — ^we know that no musical note is 
single or isolated, but that every apparently single 
sound has numberless little satelhtes, some of which 
we cannot detect, but all there nevertheless. These 
upper " partial '"sounds " can be reinforced or 
weakened by the different qualities of instruments, 
by the arrangements of harmony, and by many 
other means. 

Small wonder then that this mystery has proved 
a siren from time to time to draw men's minds 
from musical art to the science of musical sound, 
and thence back again to a possible combination of 
the two. A veritable ignis fatuus it has indeed 
proved hitherto, for musical harmony as we know 
it was surely never evolved from acoustic laws, but 
on purely aesthetic lines. 


The Right Honourable Arthur J. Balfour, address- 
ing the International Musical Congress in London 
at their Fourth Annual Congress, said : "Of all 
the arts. Music seems to be connected more inti- 
mately than any other with dry scientific facts. 
You can state in mathematical physics, certain 
important truths with which music is intimately 
connected. But I do not believe that out of the 
mathematical theory of the scale or of the chords, 
or of the theory of harmony, anything in the nature 
of a true musical aesthetic can ever be deduced." 
This was in 1911, and all the leading musicians 
present cordially agreed with|him. 

Yet all the time a great new tone-poet was 
working in Russia on these very lines which 
had been voted so impossible. Scriabin derived 
all harmony from " Nature's harmonic chord," and 
thus carried the .Science of Sound triumphantly 
into the regions of Art. But he attempted more 
than this. 

What shall we say of the wonders of Light and 
Colour ? Photography has reached undreamt-of 
stages, and artists have analysed and tabulated the 
chromatic rays, the principal relation of tones, 
their complementary colours and resultant tones, 
but no union has yet been effected between the 
Scientific knowledge and a system of iEsthetics. 
Again, Light, like Sound, is no concrete object, but 
just a fleeting impression recorded in various ways 
through the mind of the individual receiver. 


Truly little do we know about the Science of 
Colour ; yet here is a musical genius with the 
amazing temerity to propose a union between these 
two great mystic forces. Light and Sound. Cer- 
tainly a record of the works and doings of such a 
man is worth attempting. 



" Everything has a father." 

Russian Saying. 

Any attempt to appreciate Scriabin — much more 
to understand him thoroughly — ^without a know- 
ledge of the growth of Art-music in Russia would 
end in failure to seize many of the leading character- 
istics of his work. 

Many critics have divided music by Russian 
composers into two clear divisions, distinguishing 
the purely Russian art like Mussorgsky's from 
that of the eclectic composer like Tchaikovsky. 
But the Russian when clad in Western clothes 
cannot help beiuig Russian, just as much as when 
he wears the caftan and chapan. There are hundreds 
of passages in Tchaikovsky's works which only a 
Russian could have written; and only Russia 
could have produced a nature so peculiarly endowed 
as Tchaikovsky's. So it is with Scriabin. Although 
he was trained on the purely eclectic system, which 
has been more particularly the chief feature of the 
Moscow Conservatoire, rather than that of the 
Russian Northern capital, yet he was essentially 
Russian by nature, and, as a matter of course, 
shows this in his music. 


Russia, that land of extremes, that mighty 
empire which spreads itself out vastly over two 
continents, that nation of numberless races popu- 
lating its wealthy cities, navigating its mighty 
rivers, and spreading themselves out in settlements 
over its boundless plains, has at least two national 
characteristics which permeates its utmost extent — 
from the Baltic shores in the North to the southern 
Russian confines of the Caucasus, from the sunny 
slopes of the Urals to the bleak Kirghiz wastes. 
And these two characteristics, which bind all these 
races in one are that wonderful .gjit-QjUroaginatioa 
which begets and retains for ages the stories of the 
vodyano (rivergods), the lesi (woodsprites), the 
humanised animals, the ugly old witch, Baba-Yaga 
(the sound of whose name is enough to quieten the 
crying child with chilling fear), the miraculous 
hens, the midnight dances, and so on ; and their 
jnairelbus love_^_, jolkdnusic, song and dance 
which has ever held as firm a hold on these vast 
races. The traditional songs sung and danced to 
the gusslee and the balalaika embrace the whole of 
national life, transmuting the misery of their 
present condition into beautiful dreams of the past, 
and aspirations for the future. Ethnological and 
geographical conditions thread their music with 
strands of every hue. In the inclement regions of 
the North the songs have a long-suffering melancholy 
note, but where Russia touches the fairy East, their 
melodies are ^acious and tender, evocatory of the 
*un, and infused with languor. 

But more than any other race, it is the Slavs — 


that purest of all the Russian stocks — ^who sing. 
In the government of Novgorod, of Moscovy and 
Little Russia, the Slavs sing at their work, at 
their play, at their religious festivals, at the rites of 
the seasons ; they celebrate musically all the events 
of their lives — ^birth, love, marriage, and death ; 
trouble, sorrow, good fortune, and parting; the 
rain, the river, the sky, and all Nature herself ; 
they sing in solo, in chorus, in legend, in byliny, in 
dirge, in dances ; in songs of work and travel and 
in the home. They are always deeply saturated 
with the poetry of the race from which they spring. 
What immense possibilities are open to a race who 
have thus retained through the ages the pristine 
freshness of the great human springs. 

Small wonder that the minds of such musical 
composers as Stravinsky, R^bikoff, and Scriabin 
fly with almost feminine intuition to the very fount 
of the race, when primitive man was apparently as 
unsullied as Nature herself. Truly enough there is 
a deep gulf fixed between musical Art and the 
Folk-music ; but the imagination and the poetry 
of the moujik comes out just as surely in the 
mysticism and originality of the twentieth-century 

As an art Music was slow to rise in Russia, and 
even then its late advent had to be brought about 
from outside. This exotic impetus was a thing the 
Russian musical composer never seems to have 
forgiven and periodically resents ; for their excit- 
ingly full musical history, though short and recent,* 
is the story of acontinual and exaggerated " hark- 


ing back to the people." First it was Glinka — then 
Cui — then Mussorgsky; and both Tchaikovsky 
and Scriabin were accused from time to time of 
being " not sufficiently Russian." ^ But Nationalism 
in Music can easily be carried too far. So can 
Exoticism : witness England. 

• • • , • ■ • 

There was and still is a sort of Art-music of great 
antiquity in Russia. I refer to the imison chants 
of the Orthodox Church, directly descending from 
the Greek Christians, — ^that purest form of the 
ancient Christian Church, polluted neither by 
temporal ambition nor mercenary desire. The pure 
and pristine state of their Church music is of 
supreme value to the Russian musical composers, 
for it has kept them away from the hard grip of the 
limited major and minor scales. 

• ••■•■ 

A short sketch of the rise of Russian secular 
musical art is necessary before we begin our study 
of Scriabin. In former times, music as a profane 
art was little estimated in Russia. In the Middle . 
Ages the Church banned it entirely ; and even as 
late as the sixteenth century a canon forbade it. 
An ancient mural painting depicts the tortures 
specially reserved in hell for the musician. In the 
seventeenth century a general destruction jol, all 
m usica l instruments was ordained, and even at 
the present day, no instruments are used in the 
Russian Church service. Many people attribute the 
wonderful sonority of the Russian voices, and their 
» See pages 54, 55. 


remarkable ability of retaining the pitch, to this 
invariable custom of unaccompanied vocal singing. 

In the eighteenth century, both the Czarina 
Anne and the Czarina Elizabeth were keen music- 
lovers, but it was only the foreign musicians who 
were encouraged by them. The first attempts at 
operas with Russian subjects and written in the 
Russian spirit were made by Khatchin (his 
Tanioucha was produced in 1756), Fomin (Aniouta 
in 1772 and The Miller in 1779), Matinsky {Gostiny 
Dvor, " the Market-place "), Cavos, and Titoff. Cavos 
was a Venetian who settled in Russia for forty-five 
years (1795 to 1840) and caught the Slav spirit to a 
remarkable extent. Then came Vertovsky's Askold 
(1835) and other pieces. These tentative efforts 
were brought to a head by Glinka's Idje for the 
Czar in 1836. This opera was the foundation-stone 
of Russian music. After it, two courses only were 
open to the Russian composers — either a complete 
severance from the foreign art in style and matter, 
or else a spiritual change of the contents in the 
foreign moulds. After the manner of revolutions, 
the more violent course was at first adopted. Glinka 
set the ball rolling, but he was not strong enough 
nor were the circumstances sufficiently favourable 
for a complete departure. Before his time nothing 
but Italian music (and that in its decline) had 
entered Russia. All other European music was a 
closed book to them. 

When exotic influences did finally enter Russia it 
was chiefly through the Romanticists — Weber, 
Berlioz, and Liszt. When Glinka visited Berlin in 


1832 and heard Weber's Freischutz, he was abso- 
lutely stunned; and when, a few days later, he 
witnessed Beethoven's Fidelia, his lot was cast. In 
his own operas, Weberian influences contihually 
crop up ; but this is all the more excusable when 
we remember the spell which Weber threw even 
over Berlioz and Wagner. Weber's love of Oriental 
subjects would have a special appeal for Glinka, who, 
in his first opera, was twenty-five years ahead of 
Wagner in his Rienzi. When the French master 
Berlioz visited Petrograd and Moscow in 1847, he 
was fgted like a monarch. The Russian school owes 
an incalculable debt to this remarkable genius, 
especially in the development of orchestration. 
Still more do they owe to that great reformer of 
musical construction — Franz Liszt — the creator of 
the modern symphonic style. From him they 
learnt richness of harmony, deftness in handling 
themes, and sonority of orchestral timbre. 

We will break off our operatic story, to notice a 
fact of great importance to our study of Scriabin. In 
1804 Clementi, the famous pianist and piano manu- 
facturer, brought with him to Petrograd from his 
London piano warehouse a pale melancholy Irish 
youth, awkward and shy, to "show off" his pianos 
to the fashionable Russian nobles and ladies. John 
Field, for that was his name, |»layed the Fugues of 
Bach and Handel to them in a remarkable way, 
and so great an impression did he make in the 
Northern capital that he soon discovered he could 


do something better there than " show off pianos." 
Consequently, when Clementi left he settled down 
in Petrograd and became the fashionable teacher, 
pianist, and composer. His compositions number 
7 Concertos,^ a Quintet and Rondo for Piano and 
Strings, some Variations on a Russian air for four 
hands, 4 Sonatas, a Fantasy on a Polish theme, a 
Scotch Rondo, Two English Airs varied, and 20 

He was the veritable inventor of the Nocturne. 
In these Poesies intimes of such simple charm and 
naive grace we find the very essence of Chopin's 
idylls and eclogues ; and from Chopin the mantle 
fell directly on to the shoulders of Scriabin. In the 
notice on Field in Grove's Dictionary, Mr. Dann- 
reuther writes : " Both as a composer and as a 
player, Chopin, and with him all modern pianists, 
are deeply indebted to Field. The form of Chopin's 
Nocturnes, the kind of emotion embodied therein, 
the type of melody and its graceful embellishments, 
the peculiar, waving accompaniments in widespread 
chords with their vaguely prolonged sound resting 
on the pedals, all this and much more we owe to 
Field." Field stayed in Petrograd nearly twenty 
years, and then went on to Moscow, where he was 
even more successful. There he died, and was 
buried in January, 1837. Here in Field, the Irish- 
man, we find indeed a powerful exotic influence 
transplanted for good into Russian music. 

In opera, however, the national tendency became 

1 One of the Coneertos (the 5th) is entitled " L'incendie par 


very marked. Glinka's work was carried on by 
Dargomijsky — a. great Russian reformer of dramatic 
musical declamation. His aims reached far beyond 
those of Wagner, approximating closely to those of 
Debussy's Pelleas et MMisande twenty years later. 
His music is simple, sober, and direcf, and follows 
the text with remarkable closeness and fidehty. 
Moreover, he did not use a specially prepared 
libretto, but took Pushkin's prose as it stood. His 
orchestration too could be very picturesque on 
occasion (see his tone-poem Baba J ago), and he 
raised the national dance, the Kosatchok, to an 
artistic realisation. 

After him came that remarkable Petrograd 
group known as " the Five " : Borodin, Cui, 
BalakirefE , Mussorgsky, and Rimsky - Korsakoff. 
They aimed at, and indeed achieved, the estabUsh- 
ment of the opera built up on the foundation so 
well laid by Glinka and Dargomijsky, and they 
transferred the musical freedom thus gained into 
absolute music. The style and traditions of the 
Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven forms were reso- 
lutely cast off. The work was of immense importance 
to Russian music. Later on Rimsky-Korsakoff 
seceded from the group when he felt that the 
isolation of national music might be carried too 

The Petrograd Conservatoire of Music was founded 
in 1861 by Anton Rubinstein, who remained its 
Principal for nine years. At first thoroughly 
eclectic, it gradually came under the influence of 
" the Five." Rimsky-Korsakoff was appointed 

th: rsicAL awakening in Russia 13 

Professor in 1871, and Asanchevsky, one of Mus- 
sorgsky's earliest musical friends, became Principal 
in 1874. The work there has now become more 
eclectic again, and numbers of magnificently 
equipped pianists and composers leave its portals 
crowned with their medals. 

At Moscow things have always been much more 
eclectic. Influences come continually from all 
quarters, from the East as well as from the West. 
The Moscow Conservatoire of Music was founded 
in 1864 by Nicholas Rubinstein, and its ideal has 
always been much more cosmopolitan. Tchaikovsky 
— a truly eclectic musician — ^became Principal in 
1876. Taneieff followed, and Safonoff succeeded 
him in 1889, and retired in 1906. The present 
Principal is Ivanoff-Ippolitoff. The Moscow group 
of composers has always been a brilliant one, 
including such musicians as Arensky, Conus, Rach- 
maninoff, Glifere, Ilyinsky, Kalinikoff, Kashkin, 
Koreschenko, Siloti, Sokoloff, and Spendiaroff. 

Opinions are much divided on the question of 
Nationalism in Music and its foundation on the 
Folk-song ; but the history of musical art teaches 
us that music is a universal art, and that whilst it 
gains much by reverting from time to time to the 
original stock, yet it cannot isolate itself for long 
without an irreparable loss to itself. At first sight, 
many people may not hear the national strain in 
the music of Scriabin, for he is singularly free from 
idiom. But if the following sketch does not succeed 
in revealing ample evidences of this *' strangely un- 
known people with their incredible other-worldliness, 


their broad tolerant charity, their freedom from 
chilly conventions, their joyous neglect of the 
hustle and fussiness of Western life, their deep faith, 
their child-like superstitions, and the glorious 
promise of their future," it will be the fault of the 
hastiness of my sketch ; for it is all clearly stamped 
on his life and works. 



Moscow at the end of 1871 was little different from 
the Moscow of to-day, and was, in all external 
aspects, practically the same picturesque capital of 
Oriental design and grandeur which Napoleon 
viewed from the Sparrow Hills in 1812. The tourist 
arriving at the Smolensky Terminus in Moscow at the 
present day, after driving through the picturesque 
quarters in the neighbourhood of theTriumphalnaya, 
the crude log cottages surrounded by gay gardens, 
and the wood and plaster houses bright with white, 
blue, yellow, and pink walls, with roofs of dark 
green and deep crimson, and then through the 
winding Tverskaya, its thick-walled habitations 
fairly bristling with great overhanging spouts, may 
be a little disappointed as he comes out on the 
modern up-to-date shops in the Nikolskaya and the 
fashionable hotels of the Grand Square. 

But let him wander for half a minute down the 
Ilyinka, and he will find himself again amongst 
these quaint alleys and courtyards of old Moscow ; 
and in the middle too of a veritable babel of Eastern 
tongues, for these are the old street markets 



(Gostiny Dvor) which continue right up to and 
round the walls of the entire Kitai Gorod. Or let 
him take but a few steps westwards, and pass 
through the Triotsky Vorot {Trinity Gate) into the 
marvellous Kremlin itself — and he has stepped 
straight out of the twentieth century into the 
Middle Ages. 

No ; other cities give way to progress and modern 
ideas, but Moscow the Golden, the Mother of the 
mighty Russian race, appears to go on for ever. 

On the evening of Christmas Day, 1871, in 
Moscow, with the thermometer at 14° below zero, 
things looked particularly cheerless out in the long, 
crooked streets, covered with a deep sn ow. Th e 
thousands of beHs so busy and joyous dfingtheu 
morning had ceased their glad tidings. The reddened 
sun, which had only shown itself for a few hours in 
the leaden sky, had suddenly disappeared. The 
cold atmosphere seemed scarcely yet to have settled 
down after such an unwonted agitation, even in this 
the "city of bells." Great snowflakes were still 
slowly and steadily floating down to earth. The 
quaint, almost bizarre outlines of the city, all 
covered with the enfolding mantle of snow, assumed 
as the great quiet of evening came on a feeling of 
weirdness and unreality. The homeward-bound 
traveller, dashing along silently in his fashionable 
troika, found his mind, like hi^s body, becoming 
more and more benumbed with some undefinable 
sense of melancholy in the overhanging gloom. 

scriabin's parentage and childhood 17 

It was only when some huge oaken door was flung 
open suddenly or a dvornik flashed his lantern 
across a storied courtyard, that the least suggestion 
of the universal cheerfulness and joyfulness of 
Christmas festivities and gladness was confirmed. 
Then the flying traveller caught sight of cosy fire- 
settles and domestic circles, hardly suspected under 
so forhidding and cold a covering. 

Particularly in one home was there an atmosphere 
of unusual excitement and emotional glow. Bustle 
and hilarity were everywhere in this house. A 
queer lop-sided mansion of considerable size, 
evidently very old, it nestled in snowy hoods of 
irregular outline under the shadows of the massive 
towers of the Pokrovsky Barracks on the Kjnriakoff 
estate.^ The homestead belonged to Alexander 
Ivanovitch Scriabin, who came of an old aristocratic 
Russian family ; aristocratic because in Russia this 
goes entirely by military rank, not as in England 
by civic titles, and Alexander Ivanovitch Scriabin 
had been a Colonel for many years in the army. 

At his house on this Christmas night there was a 
full family gathering of six sons and one daughter. 
Something more than ordinary Christmas happiness 
and joy of family union was here ; for the son 
Nicolas, a newly-fledged young lawyer from Saratoff, 
had brought his young wife to his parents' home 
for the Christmas holidays ; and there at two o'clock 
in the afternoon of this very Christmas Day a son 
had been born to them. No wonder the pleasant 
kindly face of the young newly-dubbed " Aunt 

* This estate no longer exists. 


Luboff "^ was aglow with excitement. The happy 
father was receiving congratulations and toasts were 
going all round. 

The grandfather's soldierly instincts had been 
gratified by his eldest son following a military 
career. He was indeed attached to the neighbour- 
ing military settlement as tutor ; and so his second 
son Nicolas had been allowed to take a course of 
Jurisprudence at the Moscow University. Whilst 
still in his studentship he has met, admired, and 
lovjid a brilliant young pianist from Petrograd — 
Luboff Petrovna Stchetinin by name. Marriage 
followed closely on the heels of love ; students' 
classes, and even " prospects " must wait. " They 
are always there," as the Russians say. The eager 
couple did not number forty years between them. 
The young pianist continued her classes at the 
Petrograd Conservatoire of Music, under the famous 
Leschetizsky,^ and received in due time the Artistes' 
Gold Medal. Her husband meanwhile finished his 
jurisprudence at the University, and then the 
couple had settled down at Saratoff, where the 
husband opened practice as a lawyer, the wife 
continuing her musical work. 

Saratoff (Tartar for " yellow sand ") is the largest 
city on the Volga, which is there two miles broad, 
and although five hundred miles from the mouth 
the river is already at sea-level. The population is 

''■ * Luboff, a favourite Christian name in Russia. English — 

' Leschetizsky was bom of Polish parents in Lemberg in 1830^ 
He was Professor at the Petrograd Conservatoire for many yeais, 
retiring in 1878. 

scriabin's parentage and childhood 19 

an exceedingly varied one. Tartars jostle with 
Kalmucks and Cossacks from the Don and Kirghiz, 
with long flowing chapans, caught up with silk 
or leather girdles and round, pointed hats, add 
striking picturesque notes to the scene. There were 
too even then a large number of prosperous German 
colonies and a small English one. 

In 1871 the young married couple had gone to 
spend Christmas with the older Scriabin family, who 
lived at Moscow, and here on this bleak Christmas 
Day of 1871 the future musical composer, Alexander 
Nicolas, was born, as we have narrated. 

We can deduce no hard-and-fast rule defining the 
value of genealogy in art. The fathers of Handel 
and Rubens were both lawyers; Shakespeare's 
father and Dvorak's father were both butchers ; 
the father of Michelangelo was Governor of the 
Castle of Capressi ; whilst Mendelssohn's father was 
a wealthy banker, and Beethoven's a poor tenor 
singer in the Electoral Chapel at Bonn. On the 
other hand, John Sebastian Bach, Mozart, and our 
own Samuel Wesley all came of notable musical 

The composer Scriabin's genealogy shows no 
marked musical traits on the male side ; but 
although we know little about the Stchetinin family, 
it is obvious that the young mother possessed very 
unusual musical endowments and abilities. Alas ; 
six months after the birth of the son destined to 
such great musical fame, ]the young mother developed 
an ominous cough. Tuberculosis was diagnosed. 
Undaunted, however, Luboff continued her musical 


activities in preparation for her concert work, her 
husband having again entered the Petrograd 
University. The illness, however, became more 
disquieting, and in September of the same year it 
was necessary for her to be taken abroad. They 
went to Arco, a small town beautifully situated on 
Lake Guarda, in the South Tjnrol. Despite tlie 
excellent climate and all attention, the illness grew 
apace, and terminated fatally in April, 1873. They 
buried her there in Arco. 

Such a disaster — one of the most terrible tragedies 
which can befall a man — can only be met, if at all, 
by a complete breaking with the old life. The 
newly-fledged lawyer retmned to Petrograd, broke 
off his University studies, and determined on 
Consulate work in the East. He entered the 
Institute of Eastern Languages, and studied hard 
for two years, when he received his first post as 
dragoman (official interpreter and assistant consul) 
at the Russian Consulate in Constantinople. But 
so indefatigable a worker was not destined to remain 
long in any one post. He was soon appointed 
Consulate-Secretary at Betoly — then Vice-Consul, 
later on Consul, and finally he received the appoint- 
ment of Chief Consul at Erzeroum. 

Erzeroum was, and still is, a fortified city of great 
strength in Asiatic Turkey ; it has a large Moslem 
and Armenian population of about 50,000. It is 
about midway between the Russian border and the 
River Euphrates, being 355 miles from Tortum 
Lake. It was captured by the Russians in 1829, 
but given back to Turkey a few months later by 


the Peace of Adrianople. During the war in 1877 
it was unsuccessfully stormed, but came into 
Russian occupation the following year. It was 
shortly after this that Nicolas Scriabin was ap- 
pointed. The post was doubtless an important 
one. The trade amounted to about £400,000 a year, 
exporting wheat, skins, furs, and tobacco. There 
were several European Consulates resident, also a 
Pasha, an Armenian Patriarch, and a Greek Bishop. 
At the very moment of writing (February, 1916), 
news comes that this great fortress has again fallen 
into the hands of the Russians (for the third time, 
for it had been ceded back to the Turks by the 
Treaty of Berlin). Although possessing a healthy 
climate, an atmosphere generally dry, and a 
splendid water supply, even at the present day the 
city has the imenviable reputation of being the 
most insanitary town in that most insanitary of 
countries — ^Armenia. 

Nicolas Scriabin retired from the Russian Con- 
sulate there in the " 'eighties " ; and, having had 
enough of life in the East, settled down at Lausanne, 
in Switzerland, where his son frequently visited 
him. He died there on December 24, 1914, only 
four months before the sudden death of the com- 

To return to the Scriabins at Moscow in 1872 — 
owing to the unsettled position of the bereaved 
husband, the motherless babe was first taken into 


his uncle's house at Moscow; and when three 
years old, he was removed to his grandmother's, 
where from this time all supervision of his education 
was undertaken by his maiden aunt, Luboff 
Alexandre vna Scriabin. Her tender care was the 
subject of the most touching affection on the part 
of the composer throughout his life. 

Early signs of the young Alexander's unusual 
musical endowments were not slow in revealing 
themselves. When only five years old he would 
extemporise on the piano, though it was some time 
before he could write rriusic. His acute ear and his 
musical memory were astonishing. A single hearing 
of any piece was sufficient to enable him to sit 
down and reproduce it exactly on the piano. In 
1877, during the Russo-Turkish War, when the 
Ismailovsky Guards Regiment was leaving for the 
seat of war, the young boy was taken to the station 
to see his uncle off with the rest of the Guards. 
During the entraining, the band played a Quadrille, 
then very popular, called " The Snow-storm." On 
his return home, the five-year-old musician played 
the piece through on the piano from memory froin 
beginning to end, greatly to the amazement of 
the family. Later on, when he heard his foster- 
mother play a Gavotte^ by Bach, and the Gondolier's 
Song* by Mendelssohn, young Alexander, then a 
boy of eight, immediately sat down and reproduced 
them without a mistake. 

» Probably one from the French Suites. Aunt Lubofi must 
have been a well-taught pianist. 

" Songs without Words. Book I, No. 6. 

scriabin's parentage and childhood 23 

From his earliest age he showed an independent 
and inventive turn of mind, always disliking to 
imitate or copy anything exactly, but much pre- 
ferring to take his own initiative. With him, no 
incentive to study was needed, for he was never 
happy unless he was doing something. Once, on 
seeing embroidery being done, he also wished to do 
some; and when canvas, thread, and frame were 
given to him he ignored the marked patterns and 
boldly worked out his own design. 

From the age of eight years he composed a few 
simple pieces, and also developed a strong love for 
poetry, writing many short poems himself. He also 
amused himself a good deal by cutting things out 
of wood, and this inventive pastime even extended 
to the making of miniature pianos, in ^hich he was 
particularly successful. 

From a very early age his relatives took him 
frequently to the Imperial Moscow Opera House. 
Here from time to time he would hear some of the 
chief operas of the newly-formed Russian School — 
Glinka, Mussorgsky, Cui, Borodin — and the early 
works of Wagner. More frequently, as in the 
England of the " 'eighties," the Italian composers 
would occupy the stage— Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini 
— ^with occasional performances of the French 
composers Gounod and Bizet's works.^ 

1 Of late years the repertoire has been much enlarged. The 
Imperial Opera House in the season 1912-13 recorded 176 
performances of 22 various operas, 11 by Russian composers 
(120 performances), and 11 by foreigners (56 performances). 
Tchaikovsky was the first on the list", as his operas were per- 
formed 32 times, and his ballets 15 times. The number of 
presentations by other composers was as follows : Rimsky- 


The Imperial Opera House in Moscow is next to 
La Scala at Milan, the largest in the world. It has 
always possessed an excellent Chorus and Orchestra, 
and in addition to giving Grand Opera, also presents 
that special Russian form of art, the " ballet " — a 
combination of the finest music, dancing, and 
mimique. As at Petirograd every employe in the 
Opera is a Government employe and qualifies for a 
Government pension. It is the same with the 
Imperial Theatre of Drama. In Russia, actors and 
singers are rightly considered part of the national 
system of education.^ The army officers receive 
special benefits at the Opera Houses. 

At the Opera the elder Scriabin noticed that the 
young boy's ears were always much more occupied 
with the magical sounds of the orchestra than his 
eyes were concerned with the happenings on the 
sta,ge. This tendency explains why, despite the 
preponderance of the operatic influence in Moscow, 
Scriabin developed entirely on non-operatic lines. 

Korsakoff 27 ; Glinka 22 ; Mussorgsky 16 ; Kubinstein 17 ; 
Thomas 15 ; Gounod 12 ; Wagner 11 ; Bizet 9 ; Rachmaninoff 
8 ; Verdi 6 ; Dargomisky 4 ; Massenet 3. 

Zimin's Opera Company gave in the same season 265 per- 
formances of 31 operas, of which 15 were by Russian composers, 
138 times, and 17 by foreigners, performed 133 times. Tchai- 
kovsky was the most favoured as his operas were given 54 
times. The number of operas by other composers was as 
follows : Rimsky-Korsakoff 49 ; Puccini 29 ; Verdi 21 ; 
Nougues 21 ; Bizet 19 ; Rubinstein 17 ; Leoncavallo 14 ; 
Strauss 10 ; R6bikoff 7 ; Gounod 5 ; Mascagni 5 ; GretchaninoS 
4 ; Mussorgsky and Lortzing, Massenet, D'Albert, 3 each. 

* At the time of writing (February, 19x6) the English 
Treasury has just withdrawn the whole of its insignificant 
grant to special musical training, amounting to about as 
much as the cost of the single firing of a gun of one of our big 

scriabin's parentage and childhood 25 

He was destined to be the composer of that purest 
form of music — instrumental music freed from all 
trammels of action, scenery, and even of words. ^ 
He wrote no vocal music at all.^ 

A purely dramatic turn, however, obsessed him 
in these early years. Thus, when a miniature 
folding theatre was bought for him, he scorned the 
idea of following the printed directions and would 
have naught to do with the given play, but staged 
his own pieces, dramatising in his own free way 
whatever stories he had been reading. One of his 
favourites was Gogul's " The Nose."* Nor did he 
stop here. He even wrote whole tragedies himself 
in prose and in poetry. Like another illustrious 
composer,* in his keen desire for the quintessence of 
drama, he had frequently^illed off all his characters 
by the time he had reached the third act. " Aimtie," 
he would exclaim, " I've no characters left to go on 
with." When thus occupied he would lose himself 
entirely, first jumping about and declaiming with 
outstretched arms, then sitting down and writing 

Scriabin's early education seems to have been 

* Later on, as we shall see, he attempted the unheard-of 
conjunction of colours, and even proposed odours. ; 

' Excepting the " Choral Epilogue " to his First Symphony 
and the ad lib. Chorus parts to Prometheus, where the singers 
merely vocalise, however. 

' Nicolas Gogul, the great national story writer, a brilliant 
satirist, " the Russian Dickens," was bom in 1798. Gogul's 
influence on Russian musicians has been paramount. Glinka, 
SerofE, Mussorgsky, SolobiefE, Stchurovsky, Tchaikovsjsy, 
Rimsky- Korsakoff, all wrote operas ba^ed on his fantastic stories. 
Glazimonofi wrote a Symphonic Prelude " In Memory of Gogul " 
in igog. 

* Richard Wagner. 


much on the same lines as that of the little Tchai- 
kovsky. In both, the stimulation of the imagination 
and the feeling for original creative work played a 
great part. In the middle and upper classes in 
Russia, owing to the constant intercourse between 
the children and the grown-up people, mental 
interests grow at a very early age.^ These con- 
ditions of home life have a twofold result. On the 
one hand, a considerable amount of good accrues m 
the acquisition of knowledge itself and in the 
development of an impressionable nature ; and 
on thfe other hand, the physical well-being often 
suffers. No Russian child of twelve would be satis- 
fied with the little picture-books and stories (chiefly 
humorous) which are printed for English nurseries. 
He wants serious books and — novels. 

Some such criticism might perhaps be levelled at 
the system of young Scriabin's upbringing. Certainly « * 
he ended in being a " thorough-going mystic." 
But his foster-parents cannot be said to have played 
any further part in influencing so obviously gifted a 
nature beyond giving his obvious inventive and 
musical gifts every opportunity of development. 
Except too for his sudden fatal malady Scriabin 
never suffered any serious illness. 

The father paid regular visits, in his vacations 
from his Consular duties at Betoly (and later on from 
Erzeroum) to see his little son at Moscow. There is 
a portrait of the father and son together taken in 

> See N. Jarintzoff, Russia: The Country of Extremes (1914). 

scriabin's parentage and childhood 27 

1883 on one of these occasions. The father, well 
built, very upright but rather under average stature, 
black hair, high forehead, small nose, lips a little 
full, chin firm but not protruding, a look of assur- 
ance and trustworthiness about the countenance. 
The son, a youth of eleven years, very proud of his 
new cadet's uniform, epaulettes, breast-chain, and 
belt. He had just been admitted into the Cadet's 
School attached to the military establishment at 
Podrovsky in the outskirts of the city, where one 
of his uncles was a tutor. In appearance the 
boy favours the father, who is there seated* with 
the boy's hand placed affectionately on his shoulder. 
These Russian people know how to love well, and 
they know how to, sustain parting. I can well 
imagine the picture was taken just before one of 
the many dreaded leave-takings prior to the father's 
return to his duties in the East. Sweet remem- 
brances of past good times and hopes of more in 
the time to come help the boy to show a brave face 
to the future. So I read the young firm face. 

And there was always dear Aunt Luboff to go to 
for encouragement, for the boy seems to have been 
the dearest thing in her life. Then a time arrives 
when her watchful education and tender care must 
give way to sterner tasks and harder ways — to 
tutors, to school routine, and to the healthy 
stimulus of boy companions of his own age. 



" The boy is father of the man." 

In Russia, national service claims every man at 
any rate for some period of his life. In most cases 
education takes a special bent (especially if it is of 
military description) at an earlier age than in other 
countries. The Government offers to take charge 
of the sons of officers from the age of ten, to feed, 
clothe, and house them gratuitously. This con- 
tinues until they are ready for the junkers' school, 
which corresponds to our Sandhurst. 

In his tenth year, then, young Scriabin was placed 
in the 2nd Moscow Army Cadet Corps. Alexander 
did brilliantly at the Entrance Examination. He 
did not " live in " with the rest of the students, but 
remained at the house of his uncle, who was a tutor to 
the Corps. The youngster soon succeeded in winning 
the sympathy of teachers and students alike, and 
became a great favourite with his young com- 
panions, who would gather around to hear him play 
pieces on the piano, or recite some poetical effusion 
of his own. Though he seems to have had no 
leaning towards the science of war, he remained 
in the Cadet Corps for nearly nine years. All this 


scriabin's studentship 29 

time his musical talent was developing rapidly. 
His first piano lessons were taken privately from 
Professor G. A. Conus, and later on from Zvierieff, 
whilst musical theory was studied with the Prin- 
cipal, Taneieff. G. A. Conus was a Professor of 
Theory, Harmony and Orchestration, as well as 
of Pianoforte Playing at the Moscow Conservatoire, 
but ZvieriefE was the Principal Professor of Piano 
Playing (Rachmaninoff was one of his pupils). 
Taneieff followed Tchaikovsky as Principal of the 
Conservatoire in 1882. 

At that time Scriabin's foster-parents lived in a 
house in Zlatoustihsky Court. Hither Taneieff him- 
self would often accompany the young boy home, 
for he was not allowed to go, about alone. The 
streets of Moscow are literally overrun by the 
diminutive open cabs called droshkys, which go 
everywhere, even into the narrowest alleys. The 
driver— the isvostshik — ^belojigs to a class which 
outvies the old London " cabby " in humour, care- 
lessness, and irresponsibility. Moreover, even at 
the present day no police regulations prevail over 
these fiery Jehus, who swoop down on you at every 
cornfer. Once when going over the Kouznetz Bridge 
alone, 'yoiing Scriabin was knocked down by a 
droshky, arid his right collar-bone was broken.^ 
Throughout the period of his convalescence, Alex- 
ander practised on the piano with his left hand alone. ^ 

' Eugen Gunst in the Russian Journal Rampa and Theezn 
(Body and Soul) in 1914. 

' This period of left-liand development may account in some 
measure for the extraordinary difficulty of the left-hand parts 
in many of his pieces. Certainly it explains the Op. 9, Two 
Pieces for Left Hand alone. 


His passion for music seems to have gradually 
ousted his miUtary studies, for the yotmg boy 
composed day and night. Whilst domg so, he never 
liked to be left alone in the room, but always begged 
his fond aunt to sit up with him. She often re- 
mained thus with him far into the night. Private 
music lessons no longer sufficed for his needs. 
Whilst still continuing the Cadet courses, he was 
now fully entered as a student at the Moscow 
Conservatoire of Music. He studied in the Piano- 
^ forte class of Vassily Iva;novitch Safonoff, and in 
the Counterpoint class under Tajieieff.^ 

It is time now to study the training for which 
the Moscow Music Conseirvatoire has long been 
justly famous. From 1885 TaneiefE was Principal, 
but he resigned the Directorship in 1889 in favour 
of Safonoff. Taneieff, however, still continued his 
classes there. Composition and Counterpoint beipg 
his favourite subjects. The influence of this fine, 
broad-minded man, of such splendid and sound 
musicianship, on Scriabin was of inestimable benefit. 
Exceedingly modest by natiure, a born teacher and 
a composer of great merit, Taneieff attracted to his 
cosy little house at Klin, in Demianovo, a large 
number of pupils ; and many musicians and com- 
posers of great fame visited him there. His Manual 

'■ Sergius Ivanovitch TaneiefE was born in 1856 in the govern- 
ment of Vladimir. At the age of ten he entered the Moscow 
Conservatoire as a student under Lander. At the advice of 
Nicolas Rubinstein, he continued there under Hubert and 
Tchaikovsky. He took the Gold Medal for Piano-playing, 
and toured as .a pianist. Tchaikovsky, having failed to 
induce Rimsky-Korsakofi to undertake the Directorship, offered 
it to Taneieff, even serving under him on the staff for a time. 



of Counterpoint, published in 1896, demonstrates 
his remarkable system of teaching Counterpoint by 
means of algebraical symbols. He takes Leonardo 
da Vinci's motto as the keystone for his work : 

Nissuna humana investigatione si po dimandare 
vera scientia, s'essa non passu per le mattematiche 

This conjunction of musical Counterpoint with 
Mathematics seems all the more remarkable when we 
find his pupil Scriabin combining musical art with 
Physical Science (see Chapter IX). He drew his 
examples from Palestrina, Josquin des Pres, Lassus, 
Willaert, Obrecht, and Morales ; and his own 
examples are not only full of ingenuity, but, not- 
withstanding their mathematical correctness, possess 
also a distinct musical poetry. It is so easy to call 
him dry for this view ; but his works, although 
"all founded on the Western classical masters, reveal 
an originality and a musicality which should give 
him a high place amongst composers. His instru- 
mentation is masterly and he made use of many 
new effects ; he has a way of building up his 
choruses too in remarkable contrapimtal com- 
binations. We find in his music many significant 
indications of his pupil Scriabin's orchestral style. 
Taneieff wrote four Symphonies but only one (Op. 
12, the last), in C minor and major, is published 
(Belaieff, 1901). This shows him to be a profound 
admirer of Beethoven and a " stickler " for musical 
form and construction. There are two features in 

' Leonardo da Vinci: Libera di pittura. Parte prima, § i. 


this Symphony which evidently impressed Scriabin, 
for he used them in his Second Symphony (composed 
shortly after it) and later on in his Third, The Divine 
Poem. One is a little quaver figure on the violins ; 
the other, a fine suggestion of Soaring by broad, 
rising curves of melody on the strings. There is 
too in this Symphony that clever unification of the 
movements by derivation, which we find in Scriabin, 
Taneieff wrote much fine Chamber Music also. His 
Ten Songs, Op. 26 (1909) and his Seven Songs, Op. 
30 (1912), to Russian words, it is true, do not rise 
to a high level ; they closely resemble Weingartner's 
German songs. His Overture to Orestes, Op. 6, 
however, reveals a fine dramatic power. His large 
and very valuable library would doubtless be open 
to young Scriabin.^ 

Scriabin was equally fortunate in his pianoforte 
teacher. Safonoff's fame as a conductor is world- 
wide. He has always been a musician of marvellous 
insight and great executive gifts ; an artist of great 
ideals and a man of large humanity and fine 
linguistic gifts. I remember meeting liim on his 
first visit -to England. He was entertained at a 
civic function, and after dinner he gave his first 
speech in English — ^an address of great power — on 
the Power of Music in life. It was given in fault- 
less, flowing English with great dramatic power and 
eloquence. If Scriabin did not derive his own high 
ideals from Safonoff, he must have felt himself 
repeatedly confirmed and strengthened in them by 

' Taneiefi died on June 6, 1915 (New Style, June 19). 

scriabin's studentship 33 

regular contact with suclTa man. Safonoff was the 
son of a Russian general, and was born in 1852 in 
the Northern Caucasus. * After finishing a Covuse 
of Jurisprudence at the Alexandrovsky Lyc^e, 
Petrograd, during which period he studied with 
Leschetizsky, he threw up law for music in 1826. 
Having studied musical theory privately under 
Sieke and Zaremba, he entered the Petrograd 
Conservatoire in 1878, studying the piano under 
Louis Brassin. The 'Cellist, Carl Davidoff, who was 
then Principal, gave him a Piano Sub-Professorship. 
In 1885 Tchaikovsky appointed him Chief Professor 
of Pianoforte Playing at the Moscow Conservatoire. 
He succeeded Taneieff there as Principal in i88g, 
but resigned in 1906 to take up a post in New 

After some years Taneieff relinquished his tutorial 
work in order to devote himself entirely to com- 
position. Scriabin was then removed to Arensky's 
class. Anton Stefanovitch Arensky was born at 
Nijni Novgorod in 1861. He died prematurely 
when on a holiday at Terioky in Finland. He 
studied first at Rousseau's Music School at Petro- 
grad, under Zieke, and then at the age of 18, with 
Rimsky-Korsakoff and Johansen at the Petrograd 
Conservatoire. In 1882 his Piano Concerto, Op. 2, and 
his First S3miphony, Op. 4, met with a great success, 
and in the salme year he was appointed to the 
Moscow Conservatoire as Professor of Harmony 
and Counterpoint. He founded his musical style 

* At Istchory, a picturesque village on the swiftly flowing 
river Terek. 


very largely an Tchaikovsky and indulged very 
freely in 5-4 time. He was ten years the senior of 
Scriabin, but like many other masters of a future 
famous composer he does not seem to have appre- 
ciated the gifts and possibilities of young Scriabin 
at all. Far from encouraging, he failed to find in 
his brilliant pupil any justification for following the 
career of a composer. ^ Alexander left Arensky's 
class at the end of the term in disgust. Probably 
Arensky wanted to " put him back too far." At 
any rate negotiations were completely broken off. 
Scriabin concluded his pianoforte classes with 
Safonoff in 1891. But the last term at his beloved 
Conservatoire was by no means fruitless ; for it was 
there he met the great patron, and publisher 
of music, Belaieff, and a friendship with him 
began then, whidi lasted until the publisher's death. 
Mitrophari Petrovitch Belaieff was born at Petro- 
grad in 1836. He was attracted to n^usic from his 
earliest years ; but it was not until he was nearly 
fifty years of age that he devoted himself entirely 
to music publishing. He died on January 4, 1904, 
leaving many well-endowed musical institutions 
and the famous " Belaieff Edition," which is 
devoted entirely to Russian composers. He pub- 
lished the whole of Scriabin's Symphonies as they 
were written, had Pianoforte arrangements made 
from the full scores, and issued no less than two- 
thirds of the whole of Scriabin's pianoforte com- 
positions. He assisted Scriabin also by arranging 
concert-tours and in numberless other ways. WhUst 
1 Verdi suffered a similar discouragement. 


PJwto by Histed] 


at the Conservatoire, Scriabin had pubUshed a few 
pieces with Jurgenson the Moscow publisher : 


1. Waltz in F minor. , 

2. {a) £tude. ^ ^ '^'i ■• -■" 
(6) Prelude. 

(c) Impromptu d la Mazur. 

3. Ten Mazurkas (2 Books). 

They probably belong to the days of the Cadet 
School. They are entirely Chopinesque in feeling 
and in style, but the left hand is already busy with 
Scriabinesque stretching, there is a fondness for 
tenor counter-melodies and a finished style of 
harmony and phrasing. The Prelude, Op. 2 (6), in 
B,^ is a little gem — ^just sixteen bars in all ; it is 
one of the most charming miniatures in the whole 
range of music. In the third Opus there are more 
evidences ol originality : and the pieces are so highly 
finished and really artistic that it is difficult to 
realise that they are the work of a youth of seven- 
teen. Ah-eady he is seeking a greater sonority, the 
left-hand chords reach a twelfth in width. The 
first piece in the second book is one of the sunniest 
little works in the whole of Scriabin's output. In 
his search for light, he goes right to the very top of 
the keyboard. The dreamy Chopin-like episodes 
are' still in evidence. The spirit of Tchaikovsky 
creeps into the last piece of this set, in which a 
chiming as of a high bell is mingled with a deep 
tolling in the bass. 

• This is transcribed for the Organ in my Russian Organ Album 


Opus 4, Allegro Appassionata, full of deep Brahm- 
sian brooding, with a vigorous cross-phrased 
arpeggio in the bass, and Opus 5, Two Nocturnes, 
also belong to the early days at the Conservatoire, 
although not pubhshed till 1894 by Belaieft. 

There have recently come to light three 'un- 
numbered Compositions : 

Fantasia for piano and orchestra 
Five-part fugue for Piano 
Nocturne in A flat 

belonging to the same early period. The first two 
were found at Professor Rozenoff's of the Moscow 
Conservatoire, a fellow student with Scriabin there 
in the. early days. The Nocturne was discovered at 
L. SabaniefE's, «ad dates from the autiomn of 1886. 
I hope no attempt will be made to publish them. 
The Fantasia is only in the form of a transcription 
for two pianos ; the Fugue is evidently a school 
work, whilst the Nocturne cannot now add any- 
thing to the lustre of the composer. 

With regard to the fondness of Chopin and later 
on of Scriabin, for the Nocturne form, it is a com- 
forting thought to remember that an Englishman, 
John Field, was the inventor of it. His pieces are 
probably not sufficiently well known in England on 
account of his having spent the greater part of 
his life in Petrograd. But Field's personal con- 
nection with Russian music was closer even than 
this ; for the future founder of Russian national 


Opera, Glinka, was brought to him as a boy for 
lessons, and when Field left Petrograd for Moscow 
he passed yoiing Glinka over to his favourite pupil 
Obmana. So that we see the Anglo-Russian 
musical entente is no new thing. 


" A prophet is not without honour save in his own country." 

Matt. xiii. 57. 

Scriabin's music-classes at the Conservatoire 
terminated in 1891. His Cadet education was 
completed a little earlier. And now he felt himself 
free to follow the career of a pianist and composer, 
with a strong inclination towards this latter solely. 
Although he received his entire schooling in the 
Cadet Corps, there seems to have been no question 
of his adopting a military career. His foster-parents 
seemed to have taken for granted all along that music 
was to be his life's work, and to have done everything 
to help in this direction. The old prejudice against 
a musical life which was such a barrier to the older 
Russian composers had now passed away. Tchai- 
kovsky was thwarted in every way in adopting 
music until he was thirty years old, and that fine 
musical genius Cesar Cui all through his life followed 
the dual profession of music and military engineer- 
ing. Cui was a great authority on fortifications, and 
nimibered amongst his pupils, the present Czar and 
General Skobeleff. . . . Then, too, the growing 
acceptance of Russian music in France and the 
Netherlands, in England and America impressed 



the Russian intelligentsia very much. In Brussels 
and Paris the Countess Mercy Argenteau carried on 
a strenuous campaign on its behalf. 

But it was the meeting with the fine-spirited 
publisher BelaiefE which formed the real opening- 
out point in Scriabin's career. Belaieff had immedi- 
ately recognised the fine genius of the young 
musician, and constituted himself his sole pub- 
lisher under a favourable pecuniary arrangement 
which placed Scriabin in a fairly easy position right 
up to the time of Belaieff's death in 1892. Belaieff's 
first step was to organise a European tour for the 
young pianist. This included Amsterdam, Brussels, 
the Hague, Paris, and Berlin. The twenty-year-old 
composer, who appeared only in his own com- 
positions on this tour, was received favourably 
everywhere. The pieces which he played were 
the First Sonata, Op. 6, the Allegro Appas- 
sionata, Op. 4, and a few smaller pieces. On his 
return to Russia he played his own works at 
concerts in Moscow, Petrograd, and many other 

The following five years — 1893 to 1897 — ^were 
occupied in concert, tours, holiday-travels, and 
composition. The last two seemed to have been 
always connected in his work, for he drew his 
inspiration from Nature more perhaps than any 
other musician since the time of Beethoven and 
Brahms. His highly sensitive and impressionable 
mind responded easily to the appeal of Nature, 
especially in her summer garb ; and his very first 
orchestral composition — a Reverie for Orchestra in E 


— is evidently a summer meditation in the country. 
He was very responsive to this mood, and twice 
reproduced it again later on in important composi- 
tions — in his First Symphony (2nd movement) and 
in his Second (3rd movement). 

The young Russian does not incline much to 
sports and athletics, and has few hobbies, other than 
indoor amusements. With Scriabin, it was chess in 
the winter. For the rest, music seems to have been 
his sole hobby and the most engrossing thing in 
life. I do not think that he was ever a great reader, 
except of that greatest book of all— Nature her- 
self. He was passionately fond of the country, of 
flowers, and of travelling. His favourite costume 
in the summer was an English-looking lounge suit, 
a large flowing art tie, a broad-spreading panama 
hat, and — button shoes. The prevailing note of the 
costume was a refined ease. And the creations 
of these five easy years were : 


6. First Sonata. 

7. Two Impromptus. 

8. Twelve Etudes. 

9. Prelude and Nocturne {for left hand only), 

10. Two Impromptus. 

11. Twenty-four Preludes. 

12. Two Impromptus. 

13. Six Preludes. 

14. Two Impromptus. 

15. Five Preludes. 

16. Five Preludes, 
ly. Seven Preludes, 



i8. Allegro de Concert. 

19. Second Sonata. 

20. Pianoforte Concerto. 

21. Polonaise in B flat minor. 

22. Four Preludes. 

24. Third Sonata. 

25. Nine Mazurkas. 

26. First Symphony. 

This is a pretty good list — five large works and 
some eighty smaller ones. The First Symphony 
(E major) was produced at one of the Belaieff 
Russian Symphony Concerts given by the I.R.M.O. 
{Imperatorskoe Russisky Musikalne Obsfchestivo — 
the Imperial Russian Musical Society), under the 
baton of Safonoff, Principal of the Conservatoire.' 
This Symphony is in six movements — a. meditative 
Lento, an Allegro dramatico with some fine "string" 
work, a Vivace in 9-8, an Allegro in E minor, arid a 
Choral Epilogue and Fugue " In Praise of Art." 
Although so early a production, with shadows of- 
Dvorak and Tchaikovsky passing over it, it is 
nevertheless a masterly work of great beauty. The 
basses have frequent melodies of great beauty, but 
the Choral Fugue smells too much of the Academy. 
The work was well received. Strange to say 
Arensky disliked it, and once, whilst arguing about 
Scriabin, exclaimed that it was quite evident that 
" anyone who praised this Symphony knew nothing 
at all about music." Such an attitude is incom- 
prehensible. But it was only the beginning of a 


slowly built up and formidable opposition to 
Scriabin in Moscow, an opposition which lasted 
more or less right up to his death. Did Arensky 
resent the precocity of this young composer who 
dared to begin where Beethoven had left oH.- — with a 
Choral Symphony ? Or was there something of 
progressiveness and impatience for authority and 
routine in Scriabin's nature which aggravated the 
more conservative minds ? Quite probably. 

SafonofE says that Scriabin, in his youth at any 
rate, was a man of extremes. Once just before they 
had parted for the holidays he had told him that 
his pianoforte " touch " was equal to all ethereal and 
tender effects, but that it wanted deepening. When, 
after the vacation, Scriabin came back to the 
Conservatoire, and struck a few chords on the 
pianoforte, it was like " two orchestras backed by 
a thunderstorm." ..." Good heavens, my dear 
boy, what have you been doing ? " SafonofE ex- 
claimed. " Well, you told me to deepen my touch," 
Scriabin answered, rather aggrieved. '. . . But by 
blending these extremes, Scriabin became at 
maturity one of the most perfectly equipped 
pianists ever heard. He could do anything with 
his instrument, and his pedalisation was something 
of a miracle. 

In 1897 he was offered the post of Professor of 
Piano Playing at his alma mater — and accepted. 
It was a mistake. There is in the artistic nature — 
whether of a creative or an interpretive cast of mind 
— as a rule, a distinct aversion to pedagogic duties. 
Doubtless Scriabin felt a Uttle proper pride in 


following such men as Nicolas Rubinstein (the 
founder), Zverieff, Arensky, and Safonoff. Perhaps 
too as a " free lance " he missed the Academic 
support of his compositions and his public appear- 
ances. Or it may have been even more practical 
considerations which led him to this step ; for about 
this time he married a young and brilliant Russian 
pianist ; and everyone knows that matrimony brings 
one more closely into touch with practical con- 
siderations. Be that as it may, these six years of 
tutorial work at the Conservatoire were " very 
lean years " in musical compositions. The only 
works dating from this period are : 


27. Two Preludes. 

28. Fantasia in B minor. 

29. Second Symphony. 

The marriage, too, did not prove ideal ; and was 
dissolved later — probably by mutual consent. 
Marriage is a great lottery, and those happily mated 
are the most ready to let their sympathy flow out 
to those less fortunate. 

The Second Sonata was begun in 1892, but the 
2nd (final) movement was not finished until 
later on. The Pianoforte Concerto is one of his 
most popular works, whilst his Third Sonata is now 
a piano classic. The Second Symphony was first 
produced in Moscow by the I.R.M.O. orchestra, 
under the expressive hands of Safonoff. It seems 
strange to look back now and find that even at that 
early stage, Scriabin was regarded as a dangerous 


revolutionary in music. The S5Tiiphony is in five 
movements, the first {Andante) supplying the 
material for the fifth {Maestoso, an Epilogue in C 
major). The three middle ones are an Allegro, an 
Andante (really Adagio), and a Tempestuoso which 
runs into the Epilogue. The orchestra, a very 
moderate one, is deftly handled, and there is a 
homogeneity in handling the themes as well as in 
their conception. Moreover, as in all Scriabin's 
works, the subjects themselves are very striking. 
Particularly noticeable are the beautiful singing 
bass parts. 

Yet at the orchestral rehearsals, the players were 
strongly biassed against the work, some almost to 
the point of refusing to play in it. But this was 
nothing to the opposition of a certain clique at the 
Concert who disttobed the performance by howls 
of derision, whistling, and cat-calls. It was but the 
experience of Monteverde, Gluck, Handel, Beethoven 
and Wagner over again. ^ 

Incredible as it may seem now, the Second 
S3Tnphony of Scriabin appeared to them so unusual 
and so " ultra-modern " that it brought forth an 
outburst of indignation from the audience. And 
now this work is in the classic repertoire of all our 
Symphony Concerts. Even the smaller piano com- 
positions of this period were received with per- 
plexity when they were first played at the Kerzensky 

* I myself once hooted Stravinsky's Rite of Springtime; 
and now, looking coolly back, I am inclined to think my resent- 
ment was based on my outraged pride at not being able to 
understand the work fuUy. 


From this time there began at Moscow 9. " dead- 
set " against, the composer, and all through his Hfe 
he underwent in his native city a strenuous perse- 
cution on the part of his more active opponents, 
and a cool indifference on the part of others. 
Academic people regarded Scriabin with ilervous- 
ness. " What will he do next ? " they seem to have 
been continually thinking. At Moscow, the pro- 
fessionals ranged themselves against him, and the 
public, not able to understand his works, either 
followed their lead, or ignored him altogether. 

But Scriabin was not without enthusiastic friends. 
All his life he had the faculty of drawing round him 
keen appreci,ators and supporters : Belaieff, Kusse- 
vitsky, Safonoff, Gunst, Conus, Sabaneieff — ^these 
make a goodly list which was continually "being 

All the early orchestral works of Scriabin — the 
Reverie, the Concerto, the First and Second Sym- 
phonies, and the Poem of Ecstasy — were first pro- 
duced by Safonoff. In 1889 this conductor in- 
augurated a series of popular Concerts at moderate 
prices in a disused circus in Moscow. In 1890 he 
was appointed conductor of the Moscow branch'of 
the I.R.M.O. He occupied this post for sixteen 
years, leaving the Moscow Orchestra and the 
Principalship of the Conservatoire in 1906 to take 
up the post of permanent Conductor of the New 
York Philharmonic Society. His renderings are 
characterised by great lucidity, intellectual grasp, 
and a full-blooded warmth, and he has specialised 
on Tchaikovsky's and Scriabin's orchestral works, 


As time went on Scriabin found his pedagogid^ 
duties seriously clogging his creative work, and 
early in 1903, after six years of tutorial work at the 
Gjnservatoire, he followed Taneieff's lead and 
resigned his post in order to devote himself entirely 
to musical composition! This year proved to be one 
of the most fertile periods of Scriabin's life. In the 
summer alone he finished his Third Symphony 
{The Divine Poem), and wrote his Fourth Sonata, 
his Tragedy, and his Poeme Satanique, and some 
forty other pieces. All these belong to his middle 
style — the transition period. 

The greater part of 1904 was spent in Beatten- 
berg, a delightful spot near Geneva. In the winter 
Scriabin went to Paris, where his Divine Poem 
{Third Symphony^ was brought to a first hearing 
under Arthur Nikisch^ on May 29, 1905 (N.S.). 
The Symphony, thus first produced abroad, was 
later on well received in Moscow, to which city 
the composer did not return, however, for seven 

The nomenclature of the Third Symphony {The 
Divine Poem), with its three movements headed 
Luttes (Strife), Voluptes (Sensuous Joys), and Jeu 
divin (Divine Activity), calls for some remark; and 

• Arthur Nikisch was bom in Hungary in 1855. He studied at 
the Vienna Conservatoire with the violin as his principal study. 
He afterwards received appointments as conductor at various 
Austrian and German cities. In 1889 he took up the conductor- 
ship of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, remaining there for 
four years, when he returned as Director of the Bnda-Pesth 
Opera House. In igo6 he held the posts of conductor of Leipzig 
Gewandhaus Concerts and of the Berlin Philharmonic Society. 
He has travelled widely as a " star-conductor." 


it is just at this juncture that so little first-hand 
information is forthcoming. 

Scriabin left Moscow in 1903, and with the 
exception of long periodic returns to Beattenberg 
in Switzerland, and a two years' sojourn in Brussels, 
was ■ a bird of passage and a holiday wanderer 
for many years. Being of a very reserved nature, 
he became, as years went on, more and more 
detached, isolated, and self-centred in his music. 
He toured widely, visiting all the chief European 
cities from time to time, and travelling where his 
fancy led him; but in general, like Brahms, he 
loved most to live in beautiful climes and to spend 
much of his time in self-communion and meditation. 

Since the religious enfranchisement in Russia 
many new cults have arisen there. Amongst 
these, Theosophy has been much favomred amongst 
the intelligentsia, especially in Moscow and Charkoff. 
People seem to be experiencing a desire for a greater 
spirituality than is afforded by the older forms. 
Scriabin's music appears to have joined issue with 
Theosophy as a convenient peg to hang his music 
on. The peg has very little concern with the 
garment which hangs on it, and I am inclined to 
think it is so with Scriabin's Theosophy and his 
music. Of course I am not doubting for one moment 
Scriabin's single-mindedness in this practice, for 
sincerity was one of the dominant notes of his 
character. Most composers at some time or other 
feel the need of some system of aesthetics or some 
explanation (even tabulation) of those special 
moods which return upon them from time to time 


and are reflected in their music — the contemplation 
mood, the exalted one, the pastoral vein, the 
exhilaration of life, and so on. We are told that 
Scriabin's Theosophy grew out of his music. I can 
imagine rather that when Scriabin encountered 
Theosophy he immediately embraced a system 
which harmonised so well with his prevailing 
musical moods. I do not think, however, we ought 
to judge Theosophy by his music ; or his music by 
Theosophy. We shall discuss this matter further 
in a later chapter. 

This Third Symphony is a magnificent com- 
position, written on the soundest of classical lines, 
on a musical architecture approximating closely to 
that of C&ar Franck in his Quintet, his Quartet, 
and other works. That is, it laas a Prologue which 
contains the basic idea of the work, and which runs 
through all the other movements in addition to 
and in connection with their usual theme. Scriabin 
regards this leading motive as his Divine Theme, 
and most of the other subjects are derived from it. 
There is no doubt that the unusual labelling of his 
movements in his Symphonies perplexed many 
people, and consequently often aroused ire. But 
the movements of this Sjonphony by any other 
names would sound as sweet ; indeed, after reading 
the irausual titles, I confess on the first hearing to a 
little disappointment at the absolute orthodoxy of 
the music. But I did not know then that, titles or 
no titles, Scriabin is the real composer of Absolute 
Music (as opposed to Programme Music) and a 
Classicist at heart. 


The Symphony, with its noble themes and its 
brilliant orchestration, had a great success at Paris 
— that city which has always been drawn so 
enthusiastically to Russian music . Tchaikovsky was 
well known and loved by them fifteen years before 
we became acquainted with him in England or 

Scriabin spent the winter 1905-6 in a villa on 
the outskirts of Genoa. He left it in February 
for Geneva, where he lived until December 2. 
He then embarked on a tour in the United 
States, playing in New York, Chicago, Washing- 
ton, Cinciimati, Detroit, and other cities with great 

Shortly after his return to Paris his Second 
Symphony and his Pianoforte Concerto were given 
at Diageli^'s^ Symphony Concerts there, the solo 
part in the Concerto being played by Mr. Josef 
Hoffman. This famous ^anist was bom at Cracow 
in 1877. His. father was the chief conductor at 
the Warsaw Opera House and a Professor at the 
Warsaw Conservatoire. Josef studied under his 
father for several years, and finally with Rubinstein 
(1892-4), after which he made a world tour as a 
juvenile prodigy. He was wisely withdrawn from 
the platform for several years, and has now developed 
into one of the finest exponents of modem piano 
playing, with a special turn for the orchestral 

* DiageliefE is a Russian conductor who made world tours 
with a Russian Opera and Ballet troupe, and who also frequently 
conducted concerts of Russian orchestral music in various large 
cities in Europe and America. 


development of pianoforte tone. He is a special 
favourite in Paris as in Moscow, and has always 
been an enthusiastic propagator and exponent of 
Scriabin's music. 

Scriabin spent the summer of 1907 at Beatten- 
berg on the lovely shores of Geneva. The works 
which date from this period are — 


44. Two Poems, 

45. Three Morceaux. 

46. Scherzo. 

47. Quasi-Valse. 

48. Four Preludes. 

49. Three Morceaux {Etude, Prelude, Reverie). 

51. Four Pieces. 

52. Three Pieces. 

They are all of exquisite beauty ; and although 
founded on the older harmonic lines, have ample 
evidence of a distinct advance on any of the pre- 
ceding great composers. Opus 50 is not forth- 
coming ; perhaps it was lost. 

He spent the winter at his father's house in 
Lausaime. The Ex-Consul of Erzeroura had retired 
to this lovely spot some years before. There the 
composer finished his orchestral piece, The Poem of 
Ecstasy, in January, 1908. No sooner was this 
completed than he set to and wrote the Fifth 
Piano Sonata — in the incredibly short space of 
three or four days. These two remarkable works 
are closely related in conception and in style; 
Together they represent perhaps better than any 


other the boundary line between his older style and 
his new. The summer of 1908 was spent at Biarritz, 
and in September he went to Brussels, in which city 
he domiciled for two years. There his masterpiece 
Prometheus was conceived and the greater part of it 

Although I can find little exact information 
about the circumstances which drew him and held 
him in this beautiful city, yet it is reasonable to 
infer that a special sympathy, not to say influence, 
was instrumental in his choice of this brilliant 
capital for a residence. At that time Brussels, 
more than any other European city (not even 
excepting Paris), had some exceptionally brilliant 
coteries of artists, thinkers, and musicians — men 
whose minds were seriously drawn to a possible 
close coimection between the Sciences and the Arts, 
and even Philosophy and Religion. 

The brilliant Jean Delville had just brought out, 
in 1900, his study and meditation on The Mission 
of Art. This series of essays impatiently throwing 
aside the old shackles which impeded conventional 
art was yet at the opposite pole to the crude, 
barbarous works of the French Fauvists, Cubists, 
and the like, to the. German Realists or the noisy 
Florentine Academy. It was Delville, one of the 
leaders of this Theosophist cult in Brussels, who 
drew the design for the cover of Scriabin's Prome- 
theus copies. 

In the preface to Delville's book, Edward Schure 
writes : " See here the book of a true young man ; 
the act of a thinker, of an artist, and of a seer, a 


witness to science, enthusiasm, and faith." We 
find Delville writing thus : " It is wise to meditate 
frequently in an epoch such as ours where the most 
unshapely works pass as arch-types of the so-called 
' free ' styles. Art and literature have lost the 
sense of the divine. One knows only too well the 
artistic decadence brought about through the 
negligence or the poverty of these artists wfthout 
design ; and if ugliness has replaced beauty in art 
nowadays, it is because art has lost the abstract 
and vital sense of Form. The Line, is it not the 
basis of all architecture, of all statuary ? The 
Line in all the objects of Nature that is the Signature 
of God " (p, 47). 

One cannot read this without remembering 
Scriabin's absolute mastery and reverence for 
form and clearness of construction in music. More 
than any other master, he uses the clean-cut four- 
bar phrase, almost invariably in fact. Nor can we 
fail to notice the influence of the great Belgian 
poets, Maeterlinck, and also of Verhaeren, one of the 
editors of L' Art Moderne, whose poems seem to 
have so close an affinity to the later Sonatas of 

The Brussels of 1908 was indeed brilliantly repre- 
sented in Science, Art, and Philosophy, and certainly 
no less in Music. The Opera-house apart — itself 
one of the best equipped and most modern in 
Europe — there was an imusually large number of 
brilliant artistes : Eugene Ysaye. the great violinist ; 
Paul Gilson, the illustrious composer of the opera 
Francesca da Rimini and author of one of the finest 


works on the modern orchestra ; that refined 
musical theorist, Emile d'Ergo, whose Dans les 
Propylees de I' instrumentation is a wonder-work ; 
those brilliant experimenters, Robert Mahrhofer, 
author of The Psychology of Tone-Colours, F. A. 
Gevaert, part author of The Musical Problem of 
Aristotle: and many other keen musical philo- 
sophers ja acoustics and especially in orchestral 
tone-colour. One of the Professors at the Con- 
servatoire there illustrated a lecture of his by 
having the whole of the iiitact score of a Mozartean 
Symphony played solely by instruments of the 
clarinet family. Moreover, there were here in 
Brussels some of the most superb orchestras in the 
world ; and the ^ Brussellaise, always the most 
generous of people, opened their arms freely to 
artists and composers from all quarters. Even a 
little of the best English music arrived there, though 
unknown in France, Germany, or Russia.^ More- 
over, Brussels has always led the van in its timely 
welcome of Russian music. Enough has been said 
to explain the attraction which this eminently 
artistic city exerted over Scriabin. He abode 
there two years, and he there met his second 

The actual compositions of his sojourn in 
Brussels are not great in number ; but the inclusion 
of his great tone-poem Prometheus makes up the 
sum-total in bulk and importance ; and the other 

' Emil Cooper (the Russianised English Conductor), however, 
has recently given Elgar's Falsfaff and Wallace's Villon in 


pieces constitute some of his most characteristic 
works : 


56. Four Pieces {Prelude, Ironies, Nuances, 


57. Two Pieces {Desir, Car esse dansee). 

58. Feuillet d' Album (for the New Russian 


59. Two Pieces {Poem, Prelude). 

60. " Prometheus " {Orchestral Poem). 

It was in 1909 that he paid a flying visit from his 
Brussels home to Moscow to take part in a concert 
arranged there in his honour. The Russian Imperial 
Musical Society gave his Third Symphony (The 
Divine Poem) at one of their Symphony Concerts, 
and also the new Poem of Ecstasy, the latter for the 
first time' in public. Safonoff was the conductor, 
and Scriabin played his own Fifth Sonata. 

He made an entirely successful appearance on 
this occasion, which was, however, slightly dis- 
counted by a hostile attack from the chief music- 
critic of the Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word), a 
leading Moscow "daily," who rained abuse on 
Scriabin's mystic titles, even likening them to " beer- 
bottle labels," When this attack fell to the ground 
harmlessly, he accused the author of L'Ecstasy of 
deliberately, ignoring " all that nationally Russian 
undpng art created by Glinka, Borodin, and 
Rimsky-Korsakoff," and described Scriabin's music 
as " the outcome of all that was worst in Wagner 
and Strauss." In other words, Scriabin was "a 


Germanophile in the worst sense of the terni and a 
wilful scorner of Russian culture." AH this of course 
was very childish, and moreover it was not " criti- 
cism." A young reviewer on the same paper wrote 
glowing accounts of Scriabin's works, especially with 
regard to the piano pieces which Scriabin rendered 
at the concerts in Sokolnikpff. 

There were other mementoes of this visit to his 
native city, however, which served to mitigate the 
Russian Word critic's spiteful attack. One was the 
bestowal of a " Glinka prize " on the Poem of 
Ecstasy. Some years before, Belaieff, the music 
publisher, had founded an endowed Annual Award 
" In Memory of Glinka " for the encouragement of 
Russian musical composers. In December of this 
year (1908) the awards were particularly interest- 
ing : 

1st Prize (1000 roubles). Sergius Rachmaninoff 
for his Symphony. 

2nd Prize (700 roubles). Alexander Scriabin 
for Poem of Ecstasy. 

3rd Prize (500 roubles). Alexander SpendiarofE 
for The Three Palm Trees. 

4th Prize (500 roubles). Sergius Taneieff for 
his Pianoforte Trio. 

Sergius Vassilivitch Rachmaninoff (of C sharp 
minor Prelude fame) was a fellow-student with 
Scriabin at the Moscow Conservatoire. He was born 
in the government of Nijni Novgorod in 1873, and 
studied at Moscow with Zviereff , Siloti (his kinsman); 
Taneieff, and Arensky. His style is somewhat 


conventional, and obviously founded largely on 
Taneieff's and Arensky's, but he has great musical 
gifts, ease in coniposition, and a clearness of musical 
diction which renders his music very taking and 
popular. His Symphony is a long work on classical 
lines, more than twice the duration of Scriabin's 
L'Ecstasy, which plays for twenty minutes or so. 
Spendiaroff's piece was an orchestral tone-poem 
of an Oriental character, based on a poem of 
Pushkin. It was first performed in Moscow in 
December of the preceding year (1907) tmder the 
baton of Glazounoff. 

Taneieff was the tutor of all the other three prize 
winners. ^He excels in chamber music. His style, 
however, is very scholastic and intellectual in type. 
His Trio was first performed in January, 1908. 

Doubtless the followers of Rachmaninoff's some- 
what facile art could hardly be keen appreciators 
of Scriabin's music; but despite a certain hostile 
camp, Scriabin was becoming more and more firmly 
established as a composer in his native land. His 
performances in Russia were always successful and 
well received on the part of the public. 

Scriabin returned to Brussels, and settled down 
again to work at his great orchestral work Prome- 
theus, which he did not actually complete till the 
following year, when the Scriabins left Brussels 
and settled in Moscow in the quiet little Tolstovsky 


Street. Scriabin was heartily welcomed by his 
friend Kussevitzsky, the famous conductor ; and 
many of the younger professors at the Conservatoire 
r£i,llied round hijn, notably the pianists : Eugen 
Gunst, an enthusiastic advocate of Scriabin, and 
Leon Sabaneieff and Leon Conus, son of the old 
professor. .Kussevitzsky invited Scriabin to accom- 
pany him on his first Volga tour (1910), an offer 
which the composer accepted gladly. 

Sergius Alexandrovitch Kussevitzsky is one of 
the most prominent figures in Russian musical life. 
Born and educated , in Russia, a student at the 
Moscow Conservatoire, he travelled widely, but 
finally settled down with Moscow as a centre. He 
began his career as a double-bass player, having a 
remarkable technique and a peculiarly poetic tone. 
Later on he was drawn to conducting, and organised 
Sjrmphony Concerts, founding his own orchestra 
(with a chorus for use in symphonic works) in 1911. 
His Moscow Symphony Concerts are repeated a 
week later in Petrograd, Kussevitzsky taking his 
whole orchestra with him. He has performed a very 
special work for Russian music by establishing a 
special music publishing business in Moscow, ^ with 
branches at Petrograd and Berlin. This affords 
Russian composers a particularly generous profit 
for their works. He was the first in Russia to 
organise musical festivals devoted to a single com- 
poser : to Bach, to Beethoven, and to Tchaikovsky. 
In 1910 he commenced the vast undertaking of' 
taking his whole orchestra up and down the Volga 

1 Russian Music Publishing Society. See p. 278. 


on a specially chartered steamboat, playing the 
great musical masterpieces at the various cities en 
route — at Novgorod, Charkoff, Saratoff, Odessa, and 
other cities. On this first Volga tour, Scriabin 
played his early Piano Concerto and other pieces 
of his own music 


coda: the last years 

ScRiABiN returned to Moscow very pleased with the 
Kussevitzsky Volga tour (1910). But he returned 
to a Moscow groaning under a stifling heat. In 
summer the city becomes intolerable with the glare 
of the sim, the noises of vehicles over the cobbled 
streets, and the odious smells inseparable appar- 
ently from manufacture in large cities. Scriabin, 
following his usual custom, retreated to the country, 
this time to the Mark estate in the Savelovsky 
Railway. He did not return to Moscow till the 
winter. On March 2, 1911, Prometheus : the Poem 
of Fire was brought to a first hearing. This was 
given at one of Kussevitzsky' s Sjonphony Concerts 
at Moscow, and Scriabin himself took the pianoforte 
part in it. One was not surprised to read in the 
Russian papers that opinions were much divided 
over this extremely advanced work. The spring of 
1 91 1 was spent at his most favoured retreat — 
Beattenberg, on Lake Geneva. Here he finished 
his Sixth and Seventh Sonatas and made sketches 
for another, which appears later on as the Ninth. 
Why such beautiful surroundings should inspire 
such gloomy works as the Sixth and Seventh Sonatas 
perhaps only a Theosophist can tell. A visit to 



Brussels followed, and after a six weeks' sojourn in 
this city, he toured through Holland with the 
conductor Mengelburg,. who produced many of 
Scriabin's orchestral works, the new Prometheus 
figuring on every programme. The tour, which 
included Amsterdam, the Hague, Haarlem, and even 
extended to Frankfurt-on-Maine, was one long 
triumph for Scriabin. He returned to Russia and 
spent the late summer and autumn on the 
Obrazchovo-Karpovo estate near the town of 
Kaskir. He made an extensive Russian tour in the' 
winter season 1911-12, and in April, 1912, took a 
house in the Great Nikolai Peskovsky Street in 
Arbatte, a suburb of Moscow. Here he composed 
his later pianoforte works : 

66. Eighth Sonata ; 

67. Two Preludes ; 

69. Two Poems ; 

70. Tenth Sonata ; 

and finished the Ninth Sonata, which he had 
sketched out in Switzerland in the preceding year. 

At the beginning of 1914 he visited London for 
the first time, and was much impressed by the 
English people. On March 14 his Prometheus was 
produced at the Queen's Hall, under Sir Henry 
Wood. He also played in his Pianoforte Concerto 
on that occasion. The Prometheus had been given 
in London the previous year, on which occasion 
(January 2, 1913) it was played twice over by 



special request, with the idea that a second hearing 
would make the work more easily intelligible. 
The Queen's Hall Programme on this occasion was : 

1. Symphony No. 8 {Beethoven). 

2. Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20 


3. Tone Poem "Prometheus," Op. 60 {Scriahin). 

4. Tone Poem " Tod und Verkldrung " {Strauss). 

5. Overture " Meistersinger" {Wagner). 

Although Scriabin's appearance in his two works 
was a great silccess, it cannot be said that his 
Prometheus was widely understood, and the ad- 
vanced modernity of the work brought forth, even 
in enlightened London, a few vigorous marks of 
disapproval. The London season was an exception- 
ally full one that year, and it was characterised by 
an almost wild straining after the new at all costs 
in the arts, painting, literature, and music. The 
critics, already sated with the modernity of Mahler, 
the ultra-modernity of. Schonberg, and the freaks of 
the Cubists, were inclined to place Scriabin with the 
general mass of the " unintelligibles," and either 
condemned the work whole-heartedly or else con- 
fessed themselves mystified. I have expressed else- 
where the opinion that the works should be heard in 
historical order. The gradual and wonderful evolu- 
tion through which Scriabin's creations passed be- 
tween his early Cancerto, Op. 20, and his most 
advanced work Prometheus, explains and accounts 
for everything. It is necessary that the intervening 


works should be heard ; or at least something read 
about them. 

A. N. Briantchaninoff, a Russian critic, who was 
present at the Queen's Hall Concert, considers that 
the audience could not grasp the intention and 
inner meaning of Prometheus, which is " too far not 
only from Beethoven but also from Wagner." 
Though he himself has heard the tone-poem five 
times, there are still parts of it which he cannot 
endure, and he thinks that the audience shared his 
feelings of " infinite amazement, extreme nervous 
tension, and boundless enthusiasm for the ray of 
sunshine with which, at the very end, Scriabin 
pierces the gloomy mist of that undoubted work of 

In spite of the ovation which Scriabin received 
(and music-lovers who have attended London 
concerts for thirty years do not remember such an 
ovation) it must be recognised, says Briantchaninoff, 
that the performance, " notwithstanding all the 
careful rehearsal, left much to be desired. There 
was no feeling of that subtle mysticism with which 
every phrase should be filled, in preparation for the 
apotheosis of the final theme. It was a conscien- 
tious, even a fine musical performance. But that 
is all ! " 

" Prometheus is far more than the ordinary tone- 
poem, and its inner meaning can only be deciphered 
by those >yho understand the composer's mystical 
temperament. Sir Henry Wood and his orchesti^ 
were not of that number, and therefore there was 
no ' inward fire ' in the rendering of the Poem 


of Fire." " From a purely musical point of view the 
Finale, which usually produces such an overwhelm- 
ing effect, was imperfect ; the bells were weak and 
there was no chorus at all. Those who heard 
Prometheus in Amsterdam last year, under Mendel- 
berg, when a chorus of five hundred took part in the 
Finale, will know how much the London performance 
lost in this respect. In justice to Wood, it should 
be stated that there appear to be no good choruses in 
London, and to get one together from the provinces 
for a single performance would cost over 2000 
roubles, which is more than even the Queen's Hall 
could stand. ^ But, after such a memorable success, 
it is impossible to doubt that for the next season all 
the arrangements will be perfect. Scriabin has 
conquered London. It is difficult to overcome the 
English, but once they yield they dp so entirely, 
unconditionally, and there are no more steadfast 
enthusiasms than those of the English." 

Even the two beautiful Piano Recitals which 
Scriabin gave at the Bechstein Hall, although 
immensely appreciated by crowded audiences, did 
not make the deep impression they would certainly 
have done in a more normal season. Here are the 
Programmes. The E ^dX Mude, Op. 11, No. 14 
appears on both Programmes. So too do the 
second and last numbers of Opus 8. Even so 
advanced a piece as ^trangeti was encored. 

^ It is amusing to see ourselves as others see us. 




MARCH 20Ta, 1914 

Op. II. 

Preludes . . C major, Op. 13 

G sharp minor 

E minor 

C major 
' C sharp minor 

E sharp minor 

E flat minor 

D major 

D minor 
Mazurkas . . E flat minor 

F sharp major 
Etudes . . . F sharp minor "1 

A flat major VOp. 8. 

D sharp minor J 


3ME SoNATE . . F sharp minor, Op. 23. 
(«) Allegro dramatico.. 
(6) Allegretto. 

(c) Andante. 

(d) Presto. 


PofeME . 
PoiME AlLE . 

Feuillet d 'Album 
PofeME Satanique 


F sharp major. No. i. Op. 32. 

No. 3, Op. 51. 

Op. 57- 
Op. 63. 
Op. 59- 
Op. 36. 




MARCH 26th, 1914 



B flat major) ^ 


D flat major 

D minor] _, 

C minor! Op- ^7- 

E flat minor, Op. 11 

B major 

G sharp minor 

G flat major Op. 16. 

E flat minor 

F sharp major 

F minor) ^ 

_ . [ Op. 25. 

E mmor) ^ 

F sharp minor 

C sharp minpr Op. 8. 

D sharp minor 


SONATE FaNTAISIE . No. 2, Op. I9. 

(a) Andante. 
\b) Presto. 

Deux PoiMES 

PofeME . 
Masque . 
PofeME . 



F sharp major 
D major 
No, I, Op. 69. 
Op. 63. 
No. I, Op. 67. 
No. 2, Op. 69. 
No. 9, Op. 68. 




Everyone was struck by what appeared to b^ 
almost a new kind of Pianism. His playing was so 
easy, so refined, quiet, and unassuming, yet so 
beautifully ethereal in the softest passages, so rich 
and organ-like in the mezzo parts, yet so satisfying 
in the fortissimi, and his " pedal " effects were quite 
magical in effect. It appeared as though this new 
music had brought along with it a new kind of 
playing. And so it has ! 

AH were unanimous in agreeing that his works 
had become much clearer under the composer's own 
interpretation, and Scriabin returned home to 
Moscow justifiably pleased with his London success, 
and furnished with invitations to revisit England 
in the following season 1 914-15, having been en- 
gaged to play at twelve concerts. . . . This second 
visit, alas, never took place. The European War 
broke out, and the London appearance in his 
Prometheus proved to be the composer's last visit 

Scriabin thought he had returned to an en- 
lightened Moscow, for during his eight years' 
sojourn abroad much had taken place in Russian 
science, art, and general enlightenment. Many 
progressive movements too had been opened up. 
A Modern Art Theatre had been founded in Moscow, 
the staging of which Gordon Craig considered to be 
second to none. Kommisarzhevskaia, the great 
actress, had experimented widely and liberally, and 
although she felt finally that her own peculiar art of 
acting was suffering in the process, still her influence 
on the Russian public has been immense. The 


French Impressionists too had made a definite mark 
on both Russian painting and music. But the old 
enmities arose afresh against Scriabin. The chief 
Reviewer of the Russian Word returned to his 
attacks on this great artist of such exquisite sen- 
sitiveness. Criticism with this reviewer was degraded 
to personal abuse, to long strings of epithets poured 
on the man who dared to think that art should 
ever advance beyond the canons on which the critic 
himself had been brought pp — and as for a new art- 
language, or a revived sense of hearing— to his 
mind anyone who ever asserted this, much less 
practised it — ^was consequently a charlatan and an 
impostor. . . . Good heavens ! why ? Only a 
press-man can say. ... It is always so. 

This summer of 1914 was spent in Moscow, where 
his Prometheus was down for its second performance 
in Moscow — this time by the Orchestra of the 
Imperial Russian Musical Society under Safonoff. 
But a very definite opposition was led by the critic 
already alluded to, who was one of the directors 
of these S3anphony Concerts; and his policy was 
carried — a policy which included the withdrawal 
of Prometheus, leaving only the early Concerto to 
represent Scriabin. The composer, who was to have 
appeared in both works at this Concert, withdrew 
altogether. Scriabin was oi^y experiencing the 
intrigues which have always beset great men — ^from 
Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven onwards. Mere "no- 
bodies" are set up against them in ridiculous 


competition, and too frequently the "nobodies" 
win— /or a time. And then the nobodies disappear 
— or are only remenibered with scorn. 
f Scriabin's almost super-sensitive nature must 
have felt this Moscow opposition keenly all through 
his career, for he loved his native city dearly ; he 
had manyfriends there, and despite all the opposition 
of the "routine followers " he had an ever-growing 
public of keen appreciators. The last ten piano- 
forte pieces : 

71. Deux Poemes 

72. Vers la flamme {Potme) 

73. (i) Guirlandes ; (ii) Flammes sombres 

74. Cinq Preludes 

were written in the spring of 1914, a year before his 
death ; and in Op. 74, some of the harsh clashes of 
the materialistic world with the higher thoughts 
are painfully reflected. In the summer Scriabin 
gave himself up entirely to the realisation of his long- 
cherished project, the composition of a great art- 
work entitled Mystery. This was to be a creation 
involving the unification of all the arts in the 
service of one perfect religious Rite. The secondary 
arts were to enhance the dominating arts (those 
subject to the will-power). Symphonies of music, 
words, and mimique (gesture) were to be accom- 
panied by sjmiphonies of colour and perfume. Such 
a union already exists to some extent in religious 
rituals. With Scriabin the onlookers and listeners 
(the passively initiated) were 9,lso to participate in 


the manifestation of the creative spirit, just as 
much as the celebrants (or executants) of the Rite. 
In this proposed union of the arts, Scriabin's aim 
was to have been the production of an ecstatic 
state, affording a glimpse of higher spiritual planes. 
He wrote the first libretto for the Prologue^ in the 
summer, which was spent in the country near 
PodolsEy. Scriabin then set to work on the music 
for this Introduction and looked forward to. its 
completion by the Spring. ... In the winter 
season, 1914, Kussevitzsky gave the Divine Poem 
{Third Symphony) and the Poem of Ecstasy, and 
Scriabin himself gave several Piano Recitals of his 
own compositions to enthusiastic audiences. 

In August the great European War broke out. 
Austria declared war on Servia, Russia on Austria, 
Germany on Russia, France on Germany, and 
within a- few weeks, Belgium had been grossly 
trodden under foot, and England had joined against 
the Central Powers. The Russians twice went 
forward and backward over imf ortunate Poland, 
and Moscow became one great war depot. The 
whole aspect of the city was changed. All the 
eligible men were away at the front. Trains full of 
soldiers left Moscow day and night. The street 
tramcars were used for the wounded, and long 
strings of German prisoners were constantly being 
brought through on their way to the mines in 

Scriabin was not one of those who regarded the 

1 This was, however, entirely re-written by him in the 
following winter. 


war as an unmixed evil, but he likened it to the 
keen wind of Nature blowing through the world 
that those things which can be shaken — like 
materialism, intellectualism, and positivism— «hall 
be shaken, and things which cannot be shaken — 
like religion, love, and truth — shall remain. He 
expressed the view that the terrible troubles 
brought by the war would bring new life, new ideas, 
and a finer sensibility to the nations. 

In this he was singularly in accord with that 
fond lover of Russia, Mr. Stephen Graham, who 
writes thus in a recent book Russia and the World 
(Cassell) : 

" Away in the depths of man, and from deeper 
depths, proceeds the Almighty Voice, in whose 
fulfilment lies the destiny of Man and the 
destinies of men, and those who live in Com- 
munion know that the war is no calamity — 
no axe at the root, but the great storm 
wind of Autumn, which has blown, and will 
blow again, scattering the leaves and branches 
into the Death Kingdoms, bringing after it 
tears of rain, and sleep arid peace, and life 
again — new life." 

In a letter addressed by Scriabin to A. N. 
Briantchaninoff, and published in the Moscow 
musical journal, Mouzika, he writes : 

" I cannot refrain from expressing my sym- 
pathy with the views which you have expounded 


in the Novoye Zveno on the subject of the 
educational significance of war. 

" You have voiced an old idea of mine, that at 
certain times the ..masses urgently need to be 
shaken up, in order to purify the human organisa- 
tion and fit it for the reception of more delicate 
vibrations than those to which it has hitherto 

" The history of races is the expression at the 
periphery of the development of a central idea, 
which comes to the meditating prophet and is 
felt by the creative artist, but is completely 
hidden from the masses. 

" The development of this idea is dependent 
upon the rhythm of the individual attainments, 
and the periodic accumulation of creative energy, 
acting at the periphery, produces the upheavals 
whereby the evolutionary movement of races is 
accomplished. These upheavals (cataclysms, 
catastrophes, wars, revolutions, etc.), in shaking 
the souls of men, open them to the reception of 
the idea hidden behind the outward happen- 

" The circle is complete, and a stage of the 
journey is finished : something has been attained, 
the creative idea has made one more impression 
on matter. We are now living through just such 
a period of upheaval, and in my eyes it is an 
indication that once again an idea has matured 
and is eager to be incarnated. 

" And at such a time one wants to cry aloud to 
all who are capable of new conceptions, scientists. 


and artists, who have hitherto held aloof from the 
common life, but who, in fact, are unconsciously 
creating history. The time has come to summon 
them to the construction of new forms, and the 
solution of new synthetic problems. These prob- 
lems are not yet fully recognised, but are dimly 
perceptible in the quest of complex experiences, 
in tendencies such as those manifested by artists 
to reimite arts which have hitherto been differen- 
tiated, to federate provinces heretofore entirely 
foreign to one another. The pubhc is particularly 
aroused by the performance of productions which 
have philosophic ideas as a basis, and combine 
the elements of various arts. Personally I was 
distinctly conscious of this at the fine rendering 
of Prometheus at the Queen's Hall, London. As I 
now reflect on the meaning of the war, I am 
inclined to attribute the public enthusiasm, 
which touched me so greatly at the time, 
not so much to the musical side of the work as 
to its combination of music and mysticism." 

Truly the idealist, not the practical man, speaks 
here. Was he right here as regards the English ? 
I have my doubts. 

The war notwithstanding, Scriabin fulfilled his 
Concert engagements, two in Moscow, one in 
Charkoff,^ and three in Petrograd. It was on this 
last visit to the Northern Capital that his friends 
noticed with concern that the composer was given 
to strange moods of depression. But when ques- 

• Pronounced Harkofi. 


tioned he could not account for it, but said 
that at times he experienced strange forebodings 
of some grave trouble overhanging him. His last 
Concert in Petrograd was on April 2, and was a 
brilliant success. No sooner had he returned to 
Moscow on Saturday, April 4, than the boil on his 
lip, from which he suffered so greatly when in 
London the preceding year and which had been 
cured by treatment, now appeared again and 
became exceedingly painful. As it did not im- 
prove with medical treatment he cancelled his 
Volga Concert Tour, which was to have commenced 
on April 14, 1915. On Tuesday, April 7, Scriabin 
stayed in bed all day but continued to compose. 
His temperature began to rise, reaching 40-4 Reamur 
(123° Fahrenheit). The boil on the lip developed 
into a carbuncle and blood poisoning set in. During 
one of his terrible paroxysms of pain, Scriabin's 
mind flew back to the English people. He would be 
" more self-possessed," he observed, " like the 
English." The case defied all medical attention, 
and it was obvious that things had taken a serious 
turn. The last rites of the ancient Russian Church 
were administered, and at five minutes past eight 
on Tuesday morning, April the 14th, Scriabin 
passed through that veil which hides the greatest 
of all the mysteries. 

No sooner was he dead, than the sad news, flash- 
ing all over the world, returned to Russia, and his 
countrymen, oblivious or antagonistic to him all 


his life, suddenly woke up to the fact that a really 
great man had passed away beyond their help, and 
a great national funeral was arranged. 

This is ever the reward which the world accords 
to its great men, whose work must be its own and 
its sole reward. Scriabin had passed away in the 
very prime of life, at the age of forty-three, leaving 
his great undertaking, the Mystery, unfinished. 
This work promised music on higher planes 
than those hitherto reached, — ^the opening of new 
worlds of beauty by the creation of a synthesis of 
the acoustic, the optical, the choregraphic, and the 
plastic arts united into one whole by a central 
mystic and religious idea. This great piece, though 
conceived throughout in the mind of its creator, 
was thus left scarcely begun — ^unfinished and un- 
finishable. • 

On the second day after his death the coffin was 
brought into the church near his house, and a night 
vigil was held before a large congregation. Special 
Anthems were sung by the famous Choir of Alex- 
ander Archangelsky. The Funeral Mass took place 
on April i6, when the famous choir of the Synod- 
College from the Kremlin, conducted by N. Danilin, 
sang the music. All the chief Russian musicians, 
artists, and singers were present. The priest made 
a touching narration. The funeral procession 
through the crowded streets was deeply impressive, 
the coffin being borne for the whole route by the 
composer's friends and fellow-musicians. A number 


of young people with linked hands made a chain 
along the procession, singing the great Russian 
Anthem for the dead. Eternal Peace to him. 

Go out to the Sparrow Hills after a shower of 
rain has cleared the air of the dust which is such a 
scourge to Moscow. A scene, like some multi- 
coloured and fantastic picture out of a fairy book, 
rises before you — Moscow with its hundreds of 
glittering domes and cupolas ; white walls everywhere, 
interspersed with restful green patches of foliage ; 
a mighty river trailing its way majestically through 
the picture with blissful unconcern for the city and 
its doings. Such was the Moscow which Napoleon 
saw from the hills in 1812 — ^the promised land 
which he did not enter. Such too is the picture seen 
to-day. Near at hand in the foreground stands an 
exceedingly picturesque Monastery, beautifully 
situated on the banks of the river. This imposing 
pile, known as the Devitschy Monastery, has a 
wonderful history. It was built in 1524 by the 
fraudulent Duke Vassily III (father of Ivan the 
Terrible) in commemoration of his conquest of 

When the grandson Feodor died, Feodor's widow, 
Irena, came here for shelter and refuge, and with 
her came her brother, Boris Godunoff. Boris 
schemed for and secured the kingdopi. Here Peter 
the Great incarcerated his masterful and rebellious 
sister Sophia. He lodged her in this Nunnery, had 
her hair shofn off, and she became Sister Susanna. 


The building almost perished in 1812, for Napoleon 
had it undermined, and the brave intrepid nuns 
only saved it at the risk of their lives. Part of this 
old fortress-monastery is now used as a Convent 
for Girls. 

In a beautiful cloister of this monastery in April, 
1915, was seen a wonderful mound of flowers, sur- 
mounted by a cross. This is the grave of Alexander 
Scriabin, whom posterity will assuredly number 
amongst Russia's very greatest composers — one 
whom Russia often treated badly in his lifetime, 
but to whom she seems to have done ample justice 
in his burial by interring him in this beautiful 
maiden cloister. 

A sympathetic Moscow lady ended a monograph 
on the departed one at the time by quoting 
Tennyson : 

" O well for him whose will is strong ; 
He sufiers, but he will not suffer long ; 
He suffers, but he cannot suffer wrong." 

Immediately after his death his fame increased 
doubly. Memorial Concerts were given in many 
cities, and his worJts appeared in Concerts all over 
the globe. Especially remarkable was the cycle of 
orchestral Concerts organised in Moscow by the 
famous conductor Kussevitzsky, The first Concert 


took place on October 12, the programme of which 
was devoted entirely to Scriabin's works. The 
First Symphony was performed with a large chorus, 
the solo roles in the Hymn to Art being beautifully 
sung by Miss O. Pavlova (Contralto) and by 
Mr. J. Altschevsky (Tenor). The Third Symphony 
{The Divine Poem) received a magnificent per- 
formance. The solo part in the Scriabin Piano 
Concerto was played by Rachmaninoff. A series of 
Piano Recitals was also given, at which various 
Moscow pianists devoted themselves entirely to 
Scriabin's work. Nicolas Orloff played the early 
compositions. A. Borovsky included the melancholy 
Ninth Sonata in his programme, finishing with the 
Third, which, though also rather sad, ends with a 
joyful Finale. Constantine Igoumnoff, a Professor 
at the Conservatoire, gave the Second Sonata, 
whilst Alexander Goldenweiser played the mystic, 
celestial Tenth. 

At the closing concert of the series, Kussevitzsky 
conducted the Second Symphony, the Poem of 
Ecstasy and Prometheus. Kussevitzsky 's grasp of 
Scriabin's work is founded on a close friendship 
with the composer. He obtains a wonderful attack 
from his orchestra, and his renderings are character- 
ised by a remarkable fire and rh3^hmic flow. 
With him too, as with Scriabin, Art is no mere 
ornament — ^but a great and serious responsibility. 

It is comparatively easy to give a rough estimate 
of Scriabin's character as one reads it from his 


life's story and music. All his life he was a man of 
extremes, passionate and tender, impetuous and 
sensitive. His nature was very affectionate. He 
was deeply attached to his father, to his foster- 
mother, " dear Aunt Luboff," and more recently 
to the two young children he leaves behind. 
Such a nature is peculiarly sensitive to rebuff or 
imkindness, which his self-esteem as an artist 
did not allow him to show. There is no doubt 
that he, felt the opposition of his own country 
people in Moscow very keenly. Of a retiring dis- 
position like Brahms, with something of a taste for 
lonely meditation, he lived quietly away from the 
noisy crowd which were ever agog with greed of 
office or pecuniary emoluments. He loved small 
appreciative circles of specially gifted and sym- 
pathetic friends,^ rather than the loud applauding 
crowd with noisy hands. He was very fortunate 
with his friends, young and old, whom he never 

The gaudy opera had no attractions for him, and 
his highly original and imaginative cast of mind 
revolted against the dry routine of teaching and all 
that was humdrum and lifeless in conventional life. 
He was ever the fearless seeker after the inner 
truth, the brilliant discoverer of new untrodden 
ways. Even in his childhood, he always preferred 
his own method, however toilsome, to the generally 
accepted way. 

With great qualities of heart and mind, of a 
lovable disposition in general, he possessed an un- 
usually fine aesthetic sense ; that sense which we 


English people are so loth to trust. He was endowed 
with a wonderfully refined sense of hearing, never 
more highly developed ; he had also a marvellously 
retentive memory for music and great powers of 

But perhaps the most outstanding feature to us 
is his absolute devotion to art, which with him was 
one with religion. Like his dear, simple, old master 
Taneieff he found the solution of his existence in 
life and work, in a blending of life, art, and religion 
into one. He would at once have agreed with 
Balfour in his Gifford lectures, where he remarks 
that all great art must be founded on some 
system of theism. The fact that never once 
did Scriabin follow the now almost universal 
custom of a super-inscribed dedication to some one 
or other with whom the composer is connected in 
an affectionate, sentimental, or alas even business- 
like way, is very significant. No star-conductor 
finds his name inscribed at the head of Scriabin 
Sjmiphonies as an inducement for him to cultivate 
the piece, nor even do any of the smaller pieces bear 
any of those sentimental dedications which form 
interesting human documents only in the case of a 

There is a story in England of a certain English 
Bishop who was asked to accept the dedication 
title of one of those millions of English banalities, 
commonly called Church Services, which every 
organist feels inspired (save the mark !) to write. His 
reply was enlightening. "Is it not already dedi- 
cated ? " 


With Scriabin right from his First Symphony — a 
Hymn of Art where the voices sing-^ 

" Pure symbols of the Living God, 
Sublimest art of Harmony, 
We raise our fervent hearts to Thee 
In wonder at thy melody," — 

right to his very last piece, all was dedicated to 
the simple duty of expressing the very best and 
highest aspirations in him. Even the dance- 
movements which he inherited from Chopin were 
turned in his later works into the general stream of 
praise and delight in creative life. 

As an artist he was exceptionally refined and 
detached, a passionate lover of the beautiful in 
everything, an ardent devotee of "line" and 
" design " in art. From the age of twenty-one, 
when he gradually freed himself from the musical 
influences which his marvellous powers of assimila- 
tion had grafted into his art, he was singularly 
detached in his artistic view of music. He appeared 
little interested in the music of others, and entirely 
wrapped up in his own fascinating ideas of the 
Unities and of the Ideal in art. I once knew an 
organist who told me he never went to hear other 
people play for " fear of contaminating his own 
style." I can well imagine that Scriabin often kept 
away from other music for fear of contaminating his 

On one occasion he was ignorantly accused by a 
leading Russian critic of being Germanophile. But 
where he was not Russian he was essentially French 
in sympathy, style, and in language. He spoke 


very little English, this fact itself being the mark 
of the Frenchman rather than of the German, who 
as a rule speaks it well. All his titles appear in 
French as well as in Russian, and only one has a 
German title. This is unusual even with the musical 
" Russian of the Russians." 



Beethoven strewed his wonderful works and 
thoughts over the whole collection of musical 
instruments in use at his time ; so too did Bach. 
Chopin confined himself solely to the piano ; whilst 
the orchestra and the piano alone occupied the 
attention of Scriabin, who wrote no vocal pieces at 
all. The small chorus roles in the first and last 
symphonic works hardly count in this connection. 
But whilst Scriabin was a wonderful master of 
orchestration, he cannot be said to have widened 
its scope to any great extent, as he certainly did 
with pianoforte technique. Himself a wonderful 
pianist, he was constantly pushing the limita- 
tions farther back, with his playing as with his 
composition. We cannot fail to notice this as we 

The first five Opus numbers need not concern us 
long. They were written during Scriabin's student- 
ship at the Moscow Conservatoire, and at once 
show us the great hold which the Polish composer 
Chopin exercised over the young Russian pianist. 
Valses, Etudes, Preludes, Mazurkas — all are clever 



andloriginal in melody, but everything is clearly 
seen through Chopin's mind. What a delightful 
little miniature that early Prelude in B major. 
Op. 2, No. 2, is ! I often play it on the organ. Just 
a couple of notes on the pedals is all that it requires. 
Op. 3 consists of Ten Mazurkas; they contain 
many original and piquant little touches. The 
Allegro Appassionata, Op. 4, shows what a command 
the young musician of seventeen already possessed 
over harmony and* form. 

The First Sonata, F minor, Op. 6, carries us a 
stage forward. The whole of Scriabin's art work is 
so perfectly evolutionary in character, in mastery of 
technique, in plasticity of musical structure, and in 
depth of expression, — ^that any attempt to divide his 
work into definite periods must be discountenanced. 
The off-handed saying of some ill-informed pro- 
fessional musicians that Scriabin had two styles 
— ^the old and the new — is misleading. Scriabin's 
final achievements, completely revolutionary in 
character as they appear when faced singly, were 
all approached through a perfectly natural and 
logical development. Once he had planted his 
feet on his own way — his own musical expression, 
he freed himself from the influences of the great 
men who had gone before. This took place about 
Op. 19 {Second Sonata), written in 1880 at the age 
of eighteen. From this point, free of all trammels, 
he started forth on the quest which called 
imperatively to him, and continued steadfastly 
to the end, never making any concession to the 
public. Some of our recent geniuses, after a 


wonderful development of modernity, have dropped 
back suddenly (as though appalled) to an earlier 
manner. This was impossible to such as Scriabin, 
who died in the full zenith of his powers in 1915. 

To those who feel somewhat lost among the four 
hundred odd pieces, large and small, which Scriabin 
contributed to instrumental music, I would offer 
the following rough divisions with considerable 
diffidence : 

0pp. I to 18. The Apprenticeship works, but 

still worthy of full respect, 

since they are all highly finished 

pieces never betraying a " pren- 

* tice hand." 

0pp. 19 to 40. {Second Sonata) to about Op. 
50. These works show the 
full personality on the old 

Opp 41 to 52. The Transition period. Works of 
wonderful beauty and inspira- 

Opp. 53 to 74. The full consummation of Scria- 
bin's genius. 

To return to the First Sonata, which was written 
in Moscow in 1889, at the age of seventeen. It is 
Chopinesque in feeling, truly enough ; but there is 
a masterly stride in it which even the Polish com- 


poser did not possess. It is the music of the Pole 
combined with the constructive perfection of 
Brahms. There are, however, many individual 
touches, and already we cannot fail to see 
that here is no ordinary musical talent (see 
Chapter X). 

After this Sonata come Preludes — Preludes — 
Preludes. In his later years he preferred the title 
Poem, for this only Prelude, Poem, or Sonata all 
mean very little. A Sonata may be anything ; so 
may a Poem or a Prelude. It is the contents which 
counts. To sum up these early pieces quite briefly 
there will be found in 0pp. 7 to 18 abundant 
material for the concert-room, for the salon, or for 
the study — a mass of music which will last many 
pianists the whole of their lives. Everyone should 
know these works. They are full of fancy, delight, 
and beauty. They contain reminiscences of gay 
times in Paris, Amsterdam, and Heidelberg — 
records of journeys ; Op. 11, Nos. 12, 17, 18, and 23 
all written at Vitzau on Lake Lucerne in 1885 ; 
No. 14 at Dresden ; souvenirs of holidays in Kieff 
{1889), and experiments in all sorts of curious times 
and in unusual figuration. 

Dr. Terry thus describes the Twelve Etudes, Op. 8 : 

" No. I is Schumannesque, but with real fire 
and richness. No. 2 is certainly Chopin, but 
more incisively rhythmic ; quite straightforward 
and diatonic, with a striking pianissimo ending 
to its fiery vigour. No. 3 might be termed a 
' Moto perpetuo,' its strong right-hand melody 


dominating the tempestuous triplet accom- 
paniment. No. 4 has a truly ravishing melody as 
Chopinesque as No. 2 in tonality and treatment, 
but with an individuality all its own. The 
exultant and confident freedom of No. 5 brings 
us to the rather uneventful No. 6, with its running 
sixths — perhaps more suggestive of Chopin than 
any of the others. No. 7 I do not find particularly 
interesting, but it is certainly not dull. To my 
mind the most interesting numbers are 9, 10, and 
12. No. 8 is interesting and quite straight- 
forward ; the right-hand melody a little con- 
ventional, but its alternation with solemn chords 
(in the familiar style of a Chopin Nocturne) 
relieves it of monotony. It is in No. 9 that one 
first seems to get a glimpse of the later Scriabin. 
It opens with a fiery outburst as of one exulting 
in the pride of strength. The broadly tranquil 
opening of its second section is strongly sug- 
gestive of the slow stirring of a giant's limbs as 
he wakes refreshed, calmly exultant in his 
strength, passing swiftly to action like a young 
Siegfried, as the torrent of- life surges through his 
veins. The running thirds in No. 10 again recall 
Chopin, but the resistless energy of the whole 
piece carries one away. It quivers with the joy 
of life — the life of fresh winds and sun and sea. 
A more sober mood entered with the sonorous 
bass figure towards the very end. No. 11 is 
marked by a brooding tenderness that is never 
sombre, though the ' uneasy ' chords at the end 
create a certain atmosphere of apprehensiveness, 


as though some sinister idea had obtruded itself. 
But it is in No. 12 that the sure grip of the com- 
poser comes out strongest. Broad and majestic 
in its opening phrases, it passes as swiftly through 
as many moods as No. 9, now surging passionately 
like a soul scaling celestial heights, now soaring 
in calm ecstasy on pinions of song. It is a fore- 
taste of that marvellous unveiling of a human 
soul which his later Sonatas show." 

Op. 9, Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand 
only, reminds us of the marvellous development of 
his left-hand part in all his keyboard music, and it 
also recalls the period in his early teens when a 
broken right shoulder-blade compelled him to prac- 
tise impatiently all his music with his left hand alone. 

I return to Dr. Terry's article in the Music 
Student for a description of Op. 11 l 

" These Twenty-four Preludes are all of them 
short, ten of surpassing beauty, and most of them 
a great advance on Op. 8. No. i is dainty and all 
too brief. No. 2 more pensive ; much of it is in 
the nature of a duet between the two hands, and 
the recurring right-hand figure is a thing of 
beauty. Nos. 3, 4, and 5 have great distinction ; 
the first is a Presto movement of ' Spinning- 
wheel ' type, and is perfectly exquisite ; the 
second foreshadows the deep brooding of later 
compositions ; slow and solemn, it speaks of 
perplexity, of puzzled expectancy. There is no 


Schumann or Chopin here ; he has found his own 
language. No. 5 somewhat resembles the pre- 
ceding one in mood but not in structure ; it has 
greater confidence and ends tranquilly ; again 
the melodic figure is perfect. No. 6 is impetuous, 
and strangely resembles Schuniann's well-known 
Novellette in D ; the rhythmic figures are quite 
as straightforward. No. 8 is very dainty, but 
bears little stamp of Scriabin's own personality ; 
it might easily pass for pure Chopin. 

" Nos. 9 and 10 stand out with a dignity all 
their own. The former opens with noble sim- 
plicity. It is full, rich, and warm-coloured, the 
sonorous left-hand figure contributing in no small 
degree to this effect. It is the perfect expression 
of the dignity of a strong and simple soul. No. 10 
has all the sonprous breadth of its predecessor, 
but the mood becomes more intense ; it ends 
with simplicity and sombre pomp. No. 11 gives 
one the impression of a struggle for expression 
between Scriabin and Chopin, in which the 
former eventually obtains the mastery. No. 12 
is all Scriabin ; one sees his grip of things tighten- 
ing. The hesitating pauses of the right hand 
give a curious impression of inconclusive re- 
flections. (This is a constantly recurring feature 
in Scriabin's later work.) No. 13 is a perfect 
little picture of tranquil musings ; not a note of 
it suggests Schumann, but the emotional effect, 
so far as the present writer is concerned, was 
strangely like that produced by his first hearing 
of Act III of Schumann's Faust (where ' Pater 


Ecstaticus ' speaks). No. 14 is triumphant and 
masterful. Both in construction and effect it 
strongly suggests the Ride of the Valkyries. In 
this and also in the two following pieces one feels 
Scriabin has reached a higher plane of thought 
and expression than in any previous work. No. 15 
seems to be asking a perpetual question — Where ? 
Whither ? — but it is all so sane and hopeful. In 
this, as in all Scriabin, I see nothing decadent or 
neurotic. No. i6 is marked ' Misterioso,' but I 
confess to finding less mystery about it than 
restrained sonority, and the glow of Oriental 
colouring. To me it came as the first piece of 
Scriabin where one could truly say, ' Here is the 
Slav.' An odd echo of the opening of Chopin's 
funeral march sounds like an intrusion. No. 17 
is simple and undistinguished. No. 18 is rather 
savagely impetuous, quite pianistic, and suggests 
no particular train of thought. 

" No. 19 is a noble number indeed. There is at 
length that greater sonority and wealth of both 
rhythmic and harmonic material which dis- 
tinguishes the later Scriabin, but again we have 
those odd intrusions of Chopinesque turns of 
expression (both rhythmic and melodic). The 
Chopin idiom is being shaken off, but it still 
peeps in at odd moments. No. 20 suggests the 
mood of No. 18, in its strepitant opening, but it 
gradually subsides like a spent wave. It is a fine 
number, though very short. No. 21 is a melody 
in the right hand with arpeggio accompaniment 
in the left. The last traces of Schumann seem to 


be ebbing away here. It is a piece of sheer beauty 
and the mood is contented and serene. No. 22 is 
likewise very beautiful. It opens in the same 
mood as its predecessor, but with fuller chords 
and warmer colouring ; it later develops agitation, 
and finally the now familiar subsidence into 
contented weariness — all this in the short space 
of 24 bars. No. 23 is as dainty as Chopin at his 
daintiest, but with the Scriabin grip and in- 
dividuahty now. No. 24 is rather larger than 
most, and surges along with tempestuous energy 
and force." 

Op. 19 brings us to the Second Sonata, a 
" Fantasy Sonata." The two movements, although 
written At different times, coalesce spiritually 
in such a wonderful way. The first movement 
(Andante) was written at Genoa in 1892 ; the second, 
five years later in the Crimea. Does the equal 
geographical latitude accoimt for the cohesion ? 
An interesting question ! There are three chief 
themes in the first movement, all of great beauty : 
the first subject, very striking in rhythmical im- 
portance ; the second, a gracefully spun melodic 
line, and the third an aspiring hymn-like tune. 
Also the composer, as is his wont, elevates his bridge- 
passage almost into a new subject, thus making 
four themes for this highly finished and very 
eloquent movement. The last three notes of the 
first subject are significant, as the little motive 
appears to have obsessed Scriabin's mind all his 
life. They are like the "Knocks of Fate" in 


Beethoven, and are used at various points through- 
out the movement. This trait was destined to 
become a regular feature of Scriabin's works. The 
second (and final) movement Presto has three 
subjects — two of graceful filigree work, whilst the 
third — to which he evidently attaches most im- 
portance — is a hymn-like melody of great nobility 
and beauty. 

The Piano Concerto, Opus 20 

In originality and imagination I place the Second 
Sonata far above the Pianoforte Concerto, which is 
perhaps the most popular of all Scriabin's piano- 
forte works. This Concerto in F sharp, Op. 20, 
was completed shortly after taking over his duties 
as Professor of Pianoforte Playing in his alma mater, 
the Moscow Conservatoire, in 1897. It is in three 
movements : an Allegro in F sharp minor, 3-4 time ; 
an Andante in F sharp major, 4-4 ; und an Allegro 
in F sharp minor and major, 9-8 time. This novel 
return to the uni-tonality of the old Suite form is 
noteworthy. The first movement has subjects of 
great beauty handled with exquisite artistry, but is 
perhaps a little lacking in melodic development. 
Th.e Andante (nearer Adagio surely, for it is marked 
46 to the crotchet) is a set of charming variations 
on one of the loveliest themes ever penned. This 
hymn-like melody of 16 bars, played con sordino, is 
tinted with the ethereal beauty of the Adagio in the 
12th Quartet of Beethoven. 

The Finale, an Allegro Moderato, is a little weak 


in thematic material and handling until it reaches 
the Meno Allegro, when the second (or is it the 
third ?) subject is given out in F major with hght 
palpitating chords on the piano, whilst the wood- 
wind breathe pale-coloured mists in the back- 
ground. The movement increases in interest as we 
proceed until a magnificent climax is reached with 
the return of the second subject in the Tonic major. 
The work is redolent of Chopin, but undoubtedly 
possesses decided individuality ; and the handling 
of form and of the orchestra is far in advance of 
that of the great Pole. We must not blame Scriabin 
for his unstinted admiration of the greatest master 
of the genius of the piano, and indeed it would be 
one of the greatest tributes to call him " The 
Russian Chopin," just as Medtner is frequently 
styled " The Russian Brahms." But it would only 
express a part of the truth in Scriabin's case, for he 
is much more than this. 

The First and Second Symphonies followed the 
Third Sonata. No. i, in E major, has a Choral 
Epilogue — a " Hjonn to Art." It was written 
during the six years which Scriabin seems to have 
wasted as Professor of the Pianoforte Class at his 
alma mater — from 1897 to 1903. During these six 
years he hardly composed anything, but he com- 
pleted his Second Symphony in 1903 shortly after 
his resignation from the tutorial staff. Two 
earlier pieces of considerable importance are the 
Fastasia in B, Op. 28, and the Tragedy (Poeme 
Tragique), Op. 34. The Fantasia is a piece 
on full s3miphonic lines, with an exposition of 



three subjects well contrasted ; the first of a noble 
melancholy : 

Moderato. M.M. J=S6. 

Ped.\ ^1 

the second of an exquisite tenderness 

the third of a majestic grandeur : 

Pib vivo. M»H. •!. 

There is a most masterly development and a full 
Return with a grandiose Coda, The only drawback 
is its difficulty, for here we no longer have the 
sketchiness of keyboard music which satisfied 
Beethoven and even Brahms in the more extended 
parts, but a full three-handed setting all to be 



encompassed by those wonderful, yet often wooden, 
ten fingers of ours. . 

The Tragedy, Op. 34, one of his finest pieces, seems 
to represent some popular festivity on a grand scale 
into the middle of which has come some striking 
tragedy which awes and astounds. The festivities 
are then resumed with the original vigour. 

Op. 33 is an interesting set, containing four little 
impressions of some of the chief prevailing moods in 
Scriabin's richly endowed emotional temperament. 
No. I, the dance emotion ; No. 2, the elusive and 
fanciful meditation, only vaguely defined; No. 3, 
the leonine mood, outraged pride ; No. 4, bellicpse : 
To arms ! Anyone interested in the psychological 
import of Scriabin's music can easily trace all these 
moods under his continually progressive style, 
Q)mpare No. 3 here, for instance. 

H H J.88 

with Op. 37, No. 4 ; Op. 56, No. i ; Op. 59, No. 2 ; 
and so on. 

The year 1903 was amazingly fruitful in works, 
being probably the most fertile period of Scriabin's 
life. In the space of nine months, he wrote all the 
pieces from 0pp. 30 to 43, including the Fourth 
Sonata, the Third Symphony {The Divine Poem), 
and a large number of Etudes, Preludes, Valses, 



and Poems. There is only room here to mention a 
few of these pieces. Let us choose the set of Pre- 
ludes, Op. 31, the brilliant Poeme Satanique, Op. 36, 
and the Four Preludes, Op. 37. 

The First Prelude of the four in Op. 31 is a slow, 
sweet melody in D flat, delicious in its curves and 
long-drawn breaths. The overlapping accompani- 
ment figure, which he so much affected, is frequently 
found also in the piano works of his old tutor, 
Taneieff. It commences in D flat, but ends in C 

I give a couple of bars because the left-hand work 
is a permanent characteristic of Scriabin : 

The second, marked con stravagante (Anglice: let 
yourself go), is a fine example of the little Prelude 
form, in the sense used by Chopin ; for it is a decided 
mood-piece with a very passionate Russian outburst 
of temper. The chord of the " French Sixth " with 
the Dominant in the Bass is much in evidence ; 
indeed he seems fairly obsessed with this chord at 
this period, and I think it was one of the chords 
which first turned him to the possibilities of the new 
harmony. Compare this piece, for instance, with 
the Poime Satanique, which is on the border-line 


of the new harmony, and with the Ironica of No. 56, 
which is well into the new tract. 

The Third Prelude, Op. 31, is another cross- 
rhythm piece study in quintuples ; whilst the last 
one is an outstanding little gem of harmonic thought 
— a delightful little miniature. I have given it in 
full in Chapter XV of my Modern Harmony 
(Augener, London). 

Perhaps the one thing which will retard largely 
the popularity of Scriabin's pianoforte pieces is 
the occasional unapproachableness of the tech- 
nique from the amateur's point of view. Still, 
whilst many of the pieces in all the three chief, 
styles of Scriabin present great difficulties for 
either the right hand (as in Op. 37, No. i) ; or else 
for the left (No. 3) ; if, indeed, not for both (No. a). 
Still there is always one piece at least in each Opus 
more approachable, as for instance No. 4 in this 
set. It is angry and powerful in mood, and well 
laid out in design. Yet do not let us get the idea 
that Scriabin is " unpianistic." No one, not even 
Chopin, understood and wrote for the piano more 
entirely in its proper genius than did Scriabin. 



The division of Scriabin's worlj into periods is a 
somewhat unsatisfying procedure. For instance, 
there is a Prelude, No. 2 in Op. 39, which, 
although quite short, is full of prophecy of the new 
stage. It is also, by the way, a real little gem of 
music. Again, the Op. 36, Potfne Satanique, is one 
of the most striking of all his pieces. There we have 
rugged ironic phrases alternating with tender 
cantahile amoroso melodies. It would seem that 
Satire and Irony are quite modern additions to 
music. I do not know the Psychology of Satire, 
and, though cheap sarcasm seldom serves any fine 
purpose, satire may at times be very salutary. But 
music cannot be consistently satirical for long, and 
even then only through contrast and not otherwise. 
So the result here is a niagnificent piece of music, 
bellicose, imperious, calm, tender, and winning by 
turns. We find it in his favourite chord, the 
" French Sixth/' carried one stage further. . The 
final Cadence will serve to illustrate this point : 


In Op. 40, Two Mazurkas, the first one (marked 
at a speed no Mazurka is ever danced — 168 equals 
crotchet) has an exquisite charm. It seems a shame 
to analyse such a piece of fragile beauty ; but 
theoretically it is a study with unusual positions of 
the chord of the 13th with the minor gth, and it is 
specially interesting as a sort of study for the later 
Danse caresse, Op. 57, with which it is closely 
connected in feeling. There are alternate languido 
and tempo bars, and the piece is a perfect little 
cameo of delicate rhythm. 

By the term " Poem " Scriabin seems to indicate 
a poetical piece longer than a short Prelude or 
Miniature — a piece with more than one subject. In 
Op. 41, Podme in D flat, we have a softly breathed 
melody, over a fluttering accompaniment of ex- 
quisite delicacy,, f®r the first subject. This forms a 
strong contrast with the middle portion, where a 
more impassioned melody is accompanied by 
agitated downward arpeggios in the Bass. The 
harmony here points to a forward evolutionary 
stage. The various " Sets " of Preludes' are always 
more difficult to place in evolution, as it was his 
custom to write these shorter pieces at different 
times, whenever the mood struck him, and to gather 
them up and publish them in sets later on. The 
first of the Set of Eight Preludes, Op. 42, is a 
fairly long and intricate finger piece. It is also a 
problem in rhythm — 5 crotchets in the bass against 
9 quavers in the treble. The second one is also in 
cross-rhythm. The third is a delicate fluttering Pres- 
tissimo. They are all good to play and good to hear. 



In Op. 44, Two Poems, we are decidedly arriving 
amongst the upper harmonics. The first piece here 
contradicts my earlier definition of " Poem," for it 
is very short and has only one subject, a long- 
drawn song-mel6dy in the clarinet register of the 
keyboard. The second Poem is in ten-bar phrases 
— an unusual thing with Scriabin. 

The Feuillet d' album, Op. 45 (i), I find very near 
the commonplace ; but this may only be by 
contrast with the fantastic charm of the Poem 
(No. 2), and the delicious harmony and appog- 
giaturas in No. 3 of the same Opus. The fantastic 
note is again to the fore in the Scherzo, Op. 46, but 
a serious mood comes over the composer just at the 
finish. In the Quasi-Valse, Op. 47, we again see how 
Scriabin approached the new harmony step by step, 
through the device of appoggiaturas and passing notes. 

An impetuous, fiery little Prelude opens the 48th 
Opus. This is followed by a short hymn-like Adagio 
with a delicate web of arpeggio filigree below ; by 
a capricious restless little Prelude in D flat (threes 
against twos), and by a jubilant Festival Piece in C, 
this last, a splendid little tone-picture full of glowing 

Op. 49, Three Pieces : Study, Prelude, Reverie, is 
a very valuable little set. The Study is the nearest 
approach to an ^olian harp which I have yet heard 

U.H, itm. 


The Prelude is written with the leonine rage which 
is one of Scriabin's prevailing moods ; whilst the 
Reverie is a harmonic Pastel of a tender delicacy.' 
The compositions of the middle period— -say roughly 
from Opp. 34 to 50 — are amongst the happiest and 
serenest things in music. He has lost his youthful 
love of melancholy, and knows nothing of the 
almost anxious philosophy of some of the later 
pieces or the shadowy deeps of the middle Sonatas, 
without which perhaps his radiant moments might 
seem less bright. Here in the summer of his life 
all is radiant happiness, the joying in beauty, in the 
warmth of friendship, and in the love of a life which 
he finds good to live. Even on the few occasions 
when he indulges in Satire (as in Poeme Satanique) 
his happier nature wins easily. Play the final 
Prelude in Op. 48 if you want to hear real joy — the 
shared human joy of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, 

" Joy> thou daughter of Elysium, 
'Tis thy magic art that knitteth 

What stern fashion's law would part ; 
Where thy gentle presence dwelleth. 
Men are one in soul and heart."^ 

With Scriabin it is all done entirely through the 
wonders of harmony itself. 

' Natalia Macfarren's translation (Novello). 



" Those men of genius who cannot be surpassed 
may be equalled. How ? By being different." 

Victor Hugo. 

We know that no musical sound or note is abso- 
lutely pure and single.^ All contain a large number 
of upper partial tones (some heard, others inaudible) 
which help to make up the general effect of the 
ground-tone which we recognise chiefly as the note. 
Here is the table of those most usually recognised. 
When the low C is struck, an exceptionally trained ear 
could doubtless recognise the presence of all these : 

If you cannot hear them easily, you can prove their 
existence by a simple experiment at the piano 
keyboard. Put the note No. 2 down silently, now 
strike No. i shortly and sharply, and you will hear 
No. 2 respond, though you have done nothing 
directly to agitate its wire strings. All the others can 
be proved in the same way, even Nos. 7, 11 and 13, 
which are not quite in time with Nature's chord. 
(Don't call it Nature's scale ; because it is a chord.) 

• Except perhaps a very few notes on the flute and on 
specially prepared metal bars. 



But this is not the way the harmony of Palestrina, 
Purcell, Handel, Bach, and Beethoven was derived. 
Although many theorists — Rameau, Day, Hiles, 
Macfarren, and even Prout — have from time to 
time endeavoured to force the theory of harmony 
on to these Unes, it should be remembered that 
theorists should follow the artists and not precede 
them ; and even down to the present day, musical 
composers have shown themselves singularly ignor- 
ant of the laws of Acoustics.^ 

Our harmony grew up on far different Unes in 
tentative, aesthetic, and empirical ways. And so 
too did all our scales. In an illuminating talk I had 
once with my friend. Dr. Walford|Davies, he gave a 
clever exposition of the way in which he considered 
our harmony had evolved. Obviously the octave, 
being the natural distance between the male and 
female voices, or those of boys and men, would be 
the first interval discovered. Then a more fastidious 
choice of a comfortable interval would be the 4th 
or 5th between. Then the 5th would be divided in 
its turn ; and then the 4th. Larger clusters of 
notes with added " tones " would be used, until at 
length the " whole-tone " chords were reached. 

» The Belgian theorist d'Ergo points out many discrepancies 
and falsities in Strauss' itevision of Berlioz's " Instrumentation " 



It is true that now and again the practice of 
Beethoven, Bach, and all the others does seiem to 
coincide with the laws of Acoustic Science, but 
whatever be the significance of this, it is only with 
them for special cases. 

(«) Beethoven 










r ^ ' i ' i '- ' 4' 


And even so, these cases all stop short at those 
upper partial notes which are badly out of tune 
with our present practical system : Nos. 11, 13, 14, 
and 15, for instance. 



But Scriabin, in his later stages; assumes they are 
quite near enough for the purpose and takes them 
all into his net. Moreover, he accents the whole 
series, 7ths, gths, i3ths, etc., as a concord, and in 
his last period especially cultivates the higher 
partials even to the most varied placements ahd 
inversions. He still regards them as inversions. 
even when the root is absent. Further, having 
accepted the piano tuning (duodecuple) as his 
basis, he writes these harmonics quite freely as 
enharmonics. G flat and F sharp and so on, are all 
the same to him. For instance. Op. 65 (ii) ends in 
D flat, but is described as being in C sharp. Again 
in the Poeme Satanique, where the following : 

is repeated, the G flat is more correctly F sharp. 
Later on, in the following chord : 

^ ^^ ^_-5. j^^ 

— "h 


1 *-r- 


^ ft.- 

« 1»-) — 1 — 1 — = — ^— 

f--t-KL ^ 

1— ^L-U-i— 1. 

the G sharp is obviously the minor 9th, A flat. This 


does not sound very consistent with his theory, and 
it often makes his root troublesome to find. But 
why bother about it ? — Since the two sounds are 
accepted as the same in music, what does the 
notation matter — or the unknown root either ? The 
music is tHe thing. 

. Scriabin founded no new scale. English and 
American writers have been led astray on this point. 
He uses the Duodecuple scale, which is that now 
adopted by all modern writers: Strauss, Elgar, 
Debussy, Cyril Scott, Ravel, and all the others. He 
discovered many new chords or combinations ; 
but, what is more remarkable, he invented practically 
a new style of composition. He takes a certain new 
chord which suits the particular' feelings he wants 
to express, and evolves the whole composition out 
of this oneextended harmony, using it only on a very 
few roo-|;s, often two or three ; sometimes even 
only one. Moreover, he adopts his series as a 
perfect concord, satisfying in itself. Debussy, 
Cyril Scott, and others have done this, but they do 
not develop on the lines of Scriabin. In his early 
period Scriabin himself used some of these newer 
combinations as discords, and resolved them ac- 
cordingly ; and indeed many- of these newer 
chords have been reached in other (empirical) 
ways by such composers as York-Bowen, Vaughan- 
Williams, Coleridge-Taylor {Hiawatha cadence), and 

But once Scriabin has chosen a particular com- 
bination for a piece, he adopts it whole-heartedly — 
and the perfect revolution in music that it involves. 



The old major and minor modes go ; the key- 
signature goes (not the tonality) ; and the " equal 
temperament " in tuning is accepted in a way 
never entirely done before (despite Bach's " Forty- 
eight "). His chosen " foundation chord," sweet 
sounding or not, is accepted as a concord, and the 
only discords left then are " suspensions," " passing 
notes," and '•' appoggiaturas." 

He chooses any sounds he likes from the " har- 
monic series " (Ex. 8), and arranges them for the 
purpose as he fancies. One chord, which his 
disciples have dubbed the " mystic chord," is a 
selection from the first thirteen of this series, 
arranged in a structure of 4ths. There is no 
mystery about it. It is wonderfully logical. He 
simply says : " Take the sounds from the natural 
series and build them up in a structure of 4ths." 
The result is a chord of extreme beauty and 
interest : 


Play it over forte, then -piano ; then sprinkle it very 
softly ; try it in various keys. We have the 
splendid vitality of the augmented 4th, the soft 
moUity of the diminished 4th, the sweet firmness 
of the perfect 4th, and so on. Reckoning every- 
thing from the root, we get the " augmented 



iith." the "minor 7th," the 3rd, the 13th, and 
the 9th. The marvellous possibilities of such a 
chord are seen in Prometheus, the Seventh Sonata, 
the Feuillet d' album, Op. 58, etc., which are all 
founded on this one chord alone. Common chords, 
7ths, 6-5's, augmented 6ths, even the "whole- 
tone " scale are only a few of the derivatives of 
such a far-reaching chord. Long passages in gths, 
7ths, or 5ths all spring from it quite naturally. (See 
Op. 65, Nos. I, 2, 3.) 

For other pieces Scriabin takes simpler com- 
binations. The two pieces in Op. 57 are founded on 
this chord : 



Of course the chords appear in any arrangement of 
the notes, 4ths, 3rds, 2nds, etc., and even when 
arranged in his chief position — ^in- 4ths, the root 
may be scarcely touched, as in ^trangete (see 
following Ex.), or in Op. 59 (ii), the opening of the 
Tenths Sonata, or the last chords of Op. 63 (ii) and 
65 (iii). 



On the other hand, we find some very complex and 
puzzling " concords " in the later pieces. Op. 65 
(ii) is constructed on the following : 

The Sixth Sonata is founded on the following 
wondrous combination : G, C, F, B, and E fiat. 
The Sonata is in G — or rather on G : 

_™ — 3- 

The mysterious Seventh Sonata is evolved from 
one harmony only, even the second chord being 
the same as the first with the omission of one of the 

The Sonata is a marvel of development from a 
single harmony. Tone-clangs, toUings of every 
colour and emotion, subjects, counter-subjects, even 



the following lovely theme of comparative con- 
sonance may be found amongst the upper partials : 

The Eighth Sonata is founded on the following 
foundation chord : 




No. 4 in the final set of Preludes ends with this 
remarkable chord : 

Sometimes, the whole composition is evolved from 
one chosen combination ; but more often two 
combinations (sbmetimes only differing by one 
note) are -selected for variety. Occasionally the 
first subject is founded on one harmony; the 
second subject being built on another, as in Atrangete, 
Op. 69. 

Sometimes he lets his combination oscillate 
slightly in some part. As in the Prelude, Op. 6, 
No. 2, where the E flat finally decides on E natural 
at the close. 



When three chords are selected, we frequently find 
this formula A, B, A, C. 

/' His Bass progressions are much simpler as a rule 
than in the ordinary practice of other composers. 
Occasionally he is satisfied with two basses only, 
and then the choice falls invariably on the aug- 
mented 4th (or diminished 5th), which in Scriabin 

-S|?.»^e£ded astheDoimnmit. ^ee Op.561^, 
the Etude, Op. 65 (111), thePom/Op. 69, the piece 
Op. 58 in the New Russian Album, etc. 

-Imperlenx. m.m.Jiiob 

The preference for this progression in the Bass is 
seen even in the earlier pieces of his older style in 
the Mazurka, Op. 40 (i), in the Scherzo, Op. 46, the 
Quasi Valse, Op. 47, etc. Rachmaninoff, by the 
way, was not impervious to the beauty of this 
harmonic colouring. Witness the following passage 
from his Elegy : 



Occasionally the Bass steps by major srds (Op. 67, 
ii) ; sometimes by minor 3rds, as in Masque, Op. 
63 (i), J^tude, Op. 66 (i), Prelude, Op. 67 (i), Vers la 
Flamme, Op. 72, etc. ; and even by inajor znds or 
diminished 3rds (Op. 65, i and ii ; Op. 67, i). When 
we find the ordinary Tonic and Dominant progres- 
sion in the Bass as in the Desir and the Danse 
caresse, the music is much easier to understand. 
The perfect equality oi the steps of the above- 
mentioned progressions in the Bass should be 
carefully noticed, as I think much of the strange- 
ness of Scriabin's music is due to it. I have 
noted this before in the works of Ravel, Karg- 
Elert, Reger, Cyril Scott, Bantock, Tscherepnine, 
even in Wagner, and in my Modern Harmony, 
I theorised to some extent on this subject, long 
before I knew that Scriabin's practice supported 
my theory. 

Let us now take a couple of pieces and analyse 
them from this point of view. 

Poem, Op. 52 (i) in C. Two harmonies only are 
used for this Ex., [a) and (6) : 

In bar i we have {a), in bars 2-3 (6), in bar 4 (a) 



again ; in bar 5 the {a) chord over A flat root ; in 
bars 6-7 («) chord oVer F root. This swings us to 
a new centre, D instead of C, which device is the 
nearest to a modulation which Scriabin can make 
on these new lines. Bars 8 to 14 are the first 
seven bars transposed a note higher. Bars 16 
to 24 show the (&) series gradually swinging itself 
down on a long G pedal-point. Then the whole 
piece repeats itself with transposition, ending 
over a long C pedal-point, varied by occasional 
interposed A flat chords. The piece closes with 
a common chord. It belongs to the transitional 

Prelude in C, Op. 59 (ii), savage and bellicose, 
is founded on the following modified series of 4ths. 

Saitvage. betliq^ 

In {a) we have the major 7th omitted ; in (6) it is 
present, but the augmented 4th is replaced by the 
5th. The theme (bars 1-5) is founded on these two 
chords ; it is then transposed a minor 3rd up (6-10), 
the (6) series is then augmented in time duration 
and dwelt on at considerable length, bringing out 
all its most aggressive qualities (bars ii-26\. We 
see in bars 14-15, etc., how an ordinary plain 
common chord may he derived from such a complex 



The rest of the piece is mere transposition, the 
alternating chord on C being constructed with the 
omission of one note (A) and substitution of the 
fifth (G) for F sharp. 

There is not a sop for the conservatives even 
in the final chord, which is constructed thus : 

But even this sounds quite old-fashioned compared 
with the final chords of some of these later pieces. 
Take, for instance, Op. 65 (ii), Op. 67 (ii), and the 
ending to Op. 59 (i). 



Advanced as all this sounds, it is still a logical 
growth from the earlier elaboration made possible 
by the sustaining pedal to Field, and afterwards to 
Chopin, and finally to Scriabin. Thinking entirely 
along these lines, we might sketch out briefly the 
history of harmonic evolution there thus : 

t> u u u u 

But how much better such harmony sounds on the 
5delding evanescent and ethereal tones of the piano 
than on the very irregularly constituted tone- 
productions of the modern orchestra. The subject 
is too vast to pursue further here ; but I am opening 
it up in a new book, Further Studies in Modern 



We have elsewhere emphasised the perfectly 
natural growth and evolutionary character of 
Scriabin's creations. As one proceeds onwards, 
from the earliest pieces of his childhood and 
student days at Moscow to the stage when he finds 
his own individuality on the old lines ; then again 
through the transition period, when we find him 
pushing out as it were tentatively here and there 
in his rhythm, in his handling of themes, in his 
texture, but especially in his harmony; right up 
to the culmination of his new style in the final 
works — ^we always find a step forward into new 
terrain with each successive piece. Nowhere is this 
feature better seen than with the Ten Sonatas, 
which reveal themselves as so many landmarks in 
the evolution of Scriabin's style and expression. 

But this is by no means the only (nor the chief) 
recommendation of these Sonatas to special notice 5 
for in the judgment of most^modern critics they are 
in every way worthy of ranking with the very 
greatest things in pianoforte literature. They are 
destined in the future to occupy a niche of their own, 
together with such treasures as the Forty-eight Fugues 
of Bach, the Thirty-two Sonatas of Beethoven, the 
Pianoforte Works of Brahms, and the music of Chopin. 



These Ten Sonatas were written at various 
periods spread over the whole of his artistic career. 
In them we see the Russian composer as a harmonic 
revolutionary ; and at the same time as a thorough- 
going conservative in the matter of instrumental 
form and design. 

Following strictly in his middle period upon the 
lines laid down by Beethoven, Scriabin, even in 
his later Sonatas, approximates the principles of 
Beethoven's forms to the application of Liszt's 
method of using themes. 

The First Sonata, F minor, Opus 6 

, What a beginning we find here ! The young 
musical giant commences with an Ols^npian stride 
comparable only to that of Brahms in his Sonata 
in F minor. Op. 5. Scriabin's First Sonata was 
written in Moscow in 1892, shortly after the 
termination of his course at the Conservatoire. It 
was published by M. P. Belaieff in 1895. As may 
be expected in a first work, there are traces of 
outside influence, chiefly of Chopin. But the 
Polish tone-poet was never such a perfect writer of 
musical form as we find here. There are abundant 
traces of a rising individuality, chiefly in certain 
distinctive melodic turns, in the handling of the 
subjects, in the texture of the accompaniment- 
figures, in the dispersion of his chords, and in his 
rhythmical patterns. 

The Sonata is in three movements. The first 
movement is in the so-called " Sonata form," with 
its exposition of three subjects ; then their develop- 



ment ; the final recapitulation and the coda. The 
first theme commences as follows ; 

Allegro con fuoco. M. m'J- = 104 

The bridge portion begins at the end of the eighth 
bar, and leads in the twenty-first bar to the second 
subject [meno mosso) in the key of E flat major. 
The individual poetic note of the young musician 
comes out very strongly here. 

McDO mOSBO. J- ; 84 

At bar 41 we have a third subject in the key of A 
flat which finishes with a perfect cadence. 



After a few beats' rest the " development " (45 
bars in all) commences with the first subject in the 
enharmonic key of G sharp minor. The strenuous 
third subject now appears, muted, With its rhythm 
dully thudding in the bass. The first subject 
increases the effect of its soaring nature by being 
developed in the major mode. But this suddenly 
evaporates into the little motive of its first three 
notes, sadly predictive of the Funeral March at the 
end of ^;he Sonata. This, however, is soon brushed 
aside ; the first subject resumes its soaring, and sud- 
denly bursts into the return of the first Exposition, 
here appearing with the utmost force. The second 
subject likewise appears brilliantly displayed in C 
minor with widely-spread chords of great strength. 
A soft Dominant Pedal-point brings in the third 
subject in F major, with its rising scale progression. 
The majesty gradually disappears in the last eight 
bars, where there is a curious vacillation between the 
major and minor — ^between the moods of optimism 
and pessimism. But the mood of the whole move- 
ment is that of a noble aspiration. 

The second movement is in Song form. The first 
theme is the very quintessence of the folk-song 
spirit — highly idealised. It consists of four phrases, 
commencing thus : 



. .^ 

— ^ 


. . 







iJ j--| ■ - 








n> - 



r^'~ """ 

~ \ ~ 


,J !■- 1'^ 




33 = 





- 1^^ 1 



t— - 

•* ♦^ 



^- ■■ a 

-^r . 



The second subject is founded on the fundamental 
germ of the Sonata. 

This reaches a certain stage of aspiration, and then 
melts into the reappearance of the first, (folk-song) 
subject — ^this time with a busy restless bass figura- 
tion. A charming movement, full of wonderful 
beauty ! 

The third (final) movement {presto) is con- 
structed over a musical framework known as the 
" Rondo-Sonata " form. The first subject appears 
over the little pafpitating figure in the bass. This 
figure also is derived from the fundamental motive. 

Presto. M.M J-=i»3 


The second subject appears in bar 13. We then 
hark back to the first, which gives in its turn to the 
second subject of the first movement, which is con- 
siderably expanded here. The first subject again 



intervenes ; then the second subject, and finally 
the first again, the music culminating rapidly in 
force and leading to — sudden disaster {Marche 
Fun^bre). This is relieved in the middle by an 
angelic song of celestial beauty, quasi mente (in 
the distance). 

What a work for a beginning — filled doubtless 
with that pessimism to which youth turns so glibly 
between eighteen and twenty-one — but filled also 
with an immense strength — ^a spirit evidently 
prepared to battle with " the sorry scheme of 
things." If aspiration be the key-note of the first 
movement, and the pleasure of poetic dreamy 
meditation of the second, then a sudden girding on 
of strength ready for the dimly-felt on-coming 
disaster is the keynote of the third. 

There is a fixed unity of purpose about the whole 
work ; and the tragedy of it strangely predicts and 
summarises the story of the composer's life. There 
are many other technical and artistic unifying 
devices which bind the whole work together in a 
closer embrace than we find with Beethoven — 
devices learnt from Brahms ; the construction and 
the transmutation of the themes from Liszt. The 
first subject of the first movement, the second 



subject of the second, the first subject of the finale 
and the Funeral March are all built from the same 
little three-note germ. 


.m^^'f- if' 



aT ft II — 

m : 1 — 

1 LU 1 


L*-^ 1 — 



Compare the fateful knocking too, just before the 
Angelic Song in the Funeral March, and its re- 
appearance in the last bar of the Sonata. It has 
some affinity with the " Fate theme " of Beethoven's 
Fifth Symphony ,•* but here, it is as though young 
Scriabin, like the Eastern philosopher, impatiently 
" turned up an empty glass." 

The Second (Fantasy) Sonata, S^ sharp minor. 
Opus 19 

This Sonata is in two movements only. The first 
movement was begun by Scriabin at Genoa in 1892, 
but the second movement was not written until 
1897 when he was in the Crimea. The Sonata was 
published by M. P. Belaieff in 1898. The composer 
has here completely found his whole individuality, 
and in depth of thought and expression and mastery 
of presentation, it leaves the First Sonata far 


behind. The first movement is marked Andante, 
but-metronomed at 60 to the crotchet.^ The second 
is a Presto in 3-2 time. There is no actual thematic 
relationship between the two movements.*' But 
there is a close spiritual relationship of Question 
and Answer — a Proposition and its exact com- 
plement. The two movements are also subtly 
connected by the key-scheme ; thus the Sonata 
opens in G sharp minor in the orthodox form — 
but the whole of the usual " Recapitulation 
part " (much condensed) appears in the unusual 
key of E major. This runs into the last move- 
ment without break — the final movement (Presto) 
being in the original Tonic minor key (G sharp 

We will now look at the movements more in 
detail. The first movement (Andante) is con- 
structed in the usual Sonata-form. The first theme 
is striking. 

AndAnte- h. N. J : flo 

It bears a subtle relationship with the " knocks of 
Fate" in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. For the 
" bridge-subject " the first subject is transformed, 

' Mendelssohn's use of the term Andante is similarly mis- 
leading. The Italian word simply means " walking," "going," 
or " moving." 

' Unless it be between the three repeated notes in the first 
bar of the opening and the three reiterated ninths in the left 
hand of the subsidiary theme dolcissimo of the second move- 
ment (page 13). 



leading to the " second theme " (bar 23) (in^the 
regulation relative key, B major). 

Already we see a liking for the soft effect of the 
major 2nd in chord formation. Of«course they are 
here taken as appoggiaturas, but nearly all the 
newer chords were discovered in this way. 

This is surrounded with filigree work of great 
poetic beauty, especially on its immediate repetition, 
which gradually makes way for the third subject — 
a hymn-like melody (also in B major) of strong 
melodic eharm ^pd much nobility. 

The " Exposition " ends at the fifty-seventh bar 
with a " full close " in B major. ^ A short but 
masterly development follows (29 bars in all), deal- 
ing with the first and second subjects (not the third), 
and especially with the " fateful knockings." The 
" Recapitulation " section is noteworthy. Two 
bars only of the first subject suffice, for the com- 
poser hastens to his second subject (now in E major), 
on which he dwells ; and still more so with the 
third one (also in E), which he elaborates • with 
infinite zest. But this gradually dies down, and 
we end with the " fateful knocks " now almost 
inaudible, as though dying away in the distance. 

» The repetition of this section, which Scriabin adopted in 
his First Sonata, has now disappeared with him once for all. 



The Finale {Presto) which follows is one of the 
finest movements in the whole range of Scriabin's 
music. Indeed for completeness of conception and 
for perfect finish, it would be difficult to find any 
movement to surpass it in this order. The first 
theme begins thus : 

The subsidiary theme enshrines amongst its delicate 
filigree work the ubiquitous Fate notes. The first 
subject then recurs with the addition of a hew bass 
figure of great power and wide sweep. At bar 41 
we have the second theme in E flat minor, truly 
noble in feeling and melodically expressive. It 
contains wonderful possibilities of development of 
.which the composer is not slow to take advantage. 
Note the canon at the unison at bars 63 et seq. The 
" Recapitulation " takes place at bar 79, the sub- 
sidiary subject being omitted, much importance 
being attached to the lovely singing melody which 
appears (still in the minor) over a Dominant Pedal 
which is developed in a grandiose manner, dying 
away just before the two unexpected, powerftil 
Tonic chords with which the Sonata terminates. 

This Sonata far surpasses the First in unity of 
thought, in power of expression, and in pure in- 
vention. The composer has here thrown off the 
reflections of the musical giants who preceded him, 



and has manifested the full individuality of his own 
brilliant personality. 

The Third Sonata, F sharp minor, 
Opus 23 
For the Third Sonata, written in 1897 on the 
Maidanovoff estate in the Klinsky government, 
Scriabin uses the form of four-movements. This 
Sonata was composed almost immediately after the 
completion of the second one, and it was published 
by M. P. Belaieff in 1898. The first movement 
(Dramattco, M.M. crotchet =69) appears in regular 
" Sonata form." The first theme opens with short 
broken phrases gradually rising in power. There is 
an impressive nobility about it.^ 

Dramatlco. m.h. Jtaa. 

%3. *<SS. 0!<ta. 

The " second subject " is of a eantabile character. 

U. M. <l • 80. 


• The " pedal " marks here are significant, as this cross- 
phrasing of the bass accompaniment iigure is a feature in all 
Scriabia's work. The use of the soft pedal in the ninth bar 
should also be noticed. 



The " development," beginning in bar 55 and 
extending for forty bars, is masterly in every way. 
It contains a striking augmentation of the second 
subject, and the commingling of the themes is of 
great beauty and always of the highest finish. 


^M 1 ff^^fWj' 



Unnaturally forced union of subjects was always 
entirely remote from Scriabin's mind. At the 
" Recapitulation " (bar 94), the first subject is 
abbreviated, passing quickly to the second theme 
in the tonic major. There is a beautiful enharmonic 
modulation to C major just before the Coda which 
ends with great power. Note the inner trombone-Uke 
passages which give such a richness to Scriabin's 
pianoforte style. The piece ends softly in the m^jor 
— another characteristic of his. 

The second movement {Allegretto) in E flat, com- 
mencing con sordini, is less individual than the rest 
of Scriabin's work of this period. 

Allegretto. u.uJUssl. 

COD 8ord 



The thick " octave-doubling " at this speed and 
tone-power is reminiscent of those great yet passing 
shadows in Schumann's music. 

But Schumann was incapable of the heavenly Trio 
portion, wlajich is filled with a purely mystic and 
unearthly beauty. 

A strong counterpoint is then added 

It_is simple enough to look at and must be heard to 
be fully appreciated. The thickish subject then 
returns and affords a wonderful contrast to the 
middle theme. It becomes more and more animated, 



and concludes with a triumphant rush on a tonic 
chord of E flat. 

The third movement is an Andante^ in B major. 
It is metronomed at 63 to the quaver, which many 
composers would style poco adagio. The first theme 
is full of a heavenly beauty. It breathes of a 
mystic self-communion in some woodland cloister. 

Andante. Hrti.i'-.ta 

The second theme enters at bar 17. Here the com- 
poser deliberately lets go of his tonic moorings. 
This is well worked ov^t a pedal on D sharp. 

M. M. /. 72 


The first theme reappears at bar 33, passing shortly 
after to the Tenor with elaborate fihgree work 
superimposed. This movement gradually subsides 
until it passes at bar 50 by a bridge (built on the 

• See the remark on the Andante of the Pianoforte Concerto, 
on page 91. 




main theme from the opening of the Sonata) straight 
into the finale. 

The Finale {presto confuoco) is laid out on modified 
Sonata-Rondo lines. Notice the chromaticism in 
the first theme which goes along over a widespread 
arpeggio bass. 

Presto con fliooo.M.i.i^ss. 

At the seventeenth bar this goes into the bass, and 
a masterly contrapuntal theme of striking import 
is added over it. The second subject enters in the 
relative major at bar 37 : 


which leads back to a return of the first theme. 
A powerful development (somewhat frenetic, after 
the manner of Tchaikovsky) commences at bar 71. 

THE TEN Sonatas 


The first theme gathers a longer breath, and opens 
out into the following extended phrase, 

which later appears in the inverted form with a 
fresh forcible figure added in the bass. Cataclysmic 
fugato entries follow in a veritable tempestuous 
rioting, on the top of which the first theme (tonic 
key) comes crowding in before we are aware of it 
(bar 125), running almost immediately into the 
" second subject," which now appears in the Tonic 
major. A second development follows, dying down 
in nineteen bars over a dominant pedal (C sharp). 
A maestoso Coda enters at bar 202, — one of those 
hyroii-like melodies so dear to the soul of Scriabin. 
Tliis broadens out and is interspersed with frag- 
ments of the first theme, which remains in the 
bass until the end. The cadence, with its fading 
references to the first theme, is of uncommon 
beauty and power, the mincrr key giving additional 
strength (not sadness) to the ending. 

This Sonata forms the culminating point of 
Scriabin's first period. Here we have not a sug- 
gestion, but the realisation of those characteristics 
which we shall come to recognise more and more in 
Scriabin's music as we proceed. Here are his 
typical melodic curves, his special rhythmic patterns, 
his characteristic figurations and filigree work — 


founded doubtless on Chopinesque lines but carried 
out with Scriabinistic purity. 
Dr. Terry's description of this Sonata is as follows : 

" The first movement opens with an octave 
figure in the bass, arresting and virile, like a 
defiant challenge. Scriabin's full grip of every 
technical resource of the piano is felt, but as far 
as technical modes of expression are concerned 
this number resembles MacDowell rather than the 
Scriabin we come to know later. His interpola- 
tion of strong chordal progressions seems to 
suggest a fine organ extemporisation. We also 
have the now familiar duetto between the two 
hands, alternating with a single ravishing melody. 
The first movement subsides quietly on a major 
chord. The second movement is short ; opens 
and ends turbulently, with an intervening episode 
of great delicacy. The third movement begins 
slowly and solemnly in rpligious mood' — ^yearning, 
aspiring, contemplation, and restrained ecstasy ; 
this mood swiftly passes, the human begins to 
stir, we feel the fixed gaze on things of beauty" as 
the ' cjoAtemplative ' drinks in their sweetness. 
Later we return to the original rhythmic figure 
in a rather sinister form. Then comes a tempest- 
tossed con fuoco followed by a heavenly melody ; 
the alternation of these moods bringing the whole 
to an excellent conclusion." 

This Sonata only requires to be more widely 
known to immediately take its place on the pro- 
grammes of all our leading pianists. It is remark- 


able no less for its homogeneity than for its beauty, 
its great imagination, and its deep expression. A 
subtle yet close relationship may be traced between 
the themes of the whole piece. Compare, for 
instance, the second theme of the first movement 
as it, appears on page 6 with the broadly flowing 
th6rae as it is expanded in the first development of 
the fourth movement (page 21). Psychologically 
and artistically it is a contribution of the greatest 
importance to pianoforte literature. Its one defect 
is Scriabin's whole-hearted devotion to the four-bar 
phrase, even in his development section ; though it is 
marvellous that one does not feel this as a detrac- 
tion from the great beauty of his masterly develop- 
ments. His pianoforte technique becomes fuller and 
richer as we pass from one Sonata to another, and 
although in this Sonata he has not reached the 
three-stave system, yet he is almost continually 
securing the efEect of three hands on the keyboard. 

The Fourth Sonata, F sharp major. 
Opus 30 

This work belongs to the transition period of 
Scriabin's artistic activity. The Third Sonata sums 
up all he could express in the older form. In this 
Fourth Sonata, where he is still working on the older 
system of harmony, he strives after newer forms. 
The endeavour to express more and more forceful 
and definite ideas through the medium of the tonal 
art is destined to take Scriabin very far along the 
road, not of reformation, but of veritable innovation. 

This Sonata is in two movements, an Andante 


and a Prestissimo, which are not separated, however, 
but very closely connected in every way. Both 
are full of happy radiant feeling, and both are cast 
in the sunny key of F sharp niajor. The first 
movement is based on a double theme, and although 
it is important to remember that Scriabin, like 
Beethoven, gives no clue more definite than the 
musical notes themselves as to the real significance 
of his works, yet it may be helpful here to know 
that Scriabin described to a friend* this bi-partite 
natxire of the theme in the first eight bars thus : 
the Striving upwards towards the Ideal Creative 
Power , and the motive of resultant Languor or 
Exhaustion after effort. 

By this means Scriabin depicts here a number of 
soul-states in evoltttion, undergoing, almost from 
bar to bar, various prismatic spiritual experiences 
which spring from the one generic idea. Of course, 
as Eugen Gunst remarks, any attempt to render a 
definite programme in words or even to class 
Scriabin as a composer of " programme music," on 
the lines of Berlioz and others, would be completely 
foreign to Scriabin's steadfast view of the mission 
of music. Doubtless all great music is the expression 
of the feelings rather than of actual events. Hence- 
forth Scriabin has striven in his works to render 
them more spiritual ; but any further attempt to 
label themes or describe these works in more 
definite terms of'theosophy must be discouraged. 
Scriabin was content to leave them as music per se, 
and his revelation to Gunst with regard to this 

^ Eugen Gunst : Article on Scriabin's Sonatas in Soul and Body. 



Sonata, which stands, as it were, at the parting of 
the ways, may be thankfully accepted as a sign- 
post merely to show the direction he is going to 
take in future. It is interesting to observe here 
that one of our leading English composers, Cyril 
Scott, admits that Theosophy has helped him very 
much in his musical composing. 

This Fourth Sonata was written in 1903, a period 
of great creative activity with Scriabin.^ It was 
published by Belaieff in 1904. 

The two leading motives are announced in a 
phrase of striking beauty occupying the first eight 
bars of this beautiful prelude. This may be called 
" The Striving towards the Ideal" (Ex. a), and the 
" Languor " or " Exhaustion " resulting therefrom 
(Ex. 6). 

' In this summer besides his Sonata he composed about forty 
more pieces (Op. 30 to Op. 42). 

' I print it as given, but feel sure the Alto F sharp in bar i 
should be E sharp. 



The motives are then developed with the chief 
stress of the " Languor " motive, which seems to be 
continually striving to pierce upwards only to fall 
back again helplessly. The return of the first 
theme repeated in full, seems to signify the un- 
daunted efforts of the Creative Instinct ; and this 
leads without break into the Prestissimo volando 
(12-8 time) in the same key. This movement is in 
Sonata-form, the first theme being : 

Prestissimo volantto. 







The bridge-subject appears at bar 13, and the 
" Second Subject " proper at bar 21 : 

An important feature in the " development " 
section is the entrance of the " Motive of Desire " 
from the Prelude, now appearing in full force but 
in an embittered form : 


The fury of this suddenly drops down in the midst 
of a dominant " pedal-point " to the return of the 
first theme of the Presto, now considerably cur- 
tailed, as is also the bridge-portion. The second 
subject proper is dwelt on at some length, and 
terminates in a magnificent Coda, the first "leit- 
motiv " typifying the Ardour of the " Creative 
Impulse," appearing in its full glory, though now 
without the " Motive of Languor," as though it 
has now realised its quest to the full. Gunst says 
that it is " not the joy of a fully realised desire 
which is heard, but rather a self-possessed Ecstasy 
in the Joy of Creatjpn." This is a subtlety into 
which I cannot enter. 

The text of the whole of this Sonata might very 
well be said to be the Joy of the Exercise of Imagina- 
tive Flight liberated from the human trammels. 
Of course it is spiritualisticin tendency — so is all the 
best music in the world — and still more so in fine- 
ness of harmonic texture ; and this piece will rank 
in the future in this class. In harmonic fineness, 
invention, and handling of themes, in the majesty 
and power of the themes themselves, this Sonata 
represents the highest point reached in this period 
of Scriabin's creative activity. 

Fifth Sonata, Opus 53 

The Fifth Sonata was composed at Lausanne 
in 1908. It was first published by the author 
himself at Paris, but was incorporated later in the 
edition of the Russian, Musical Publishing Society. 



It was completed in the white fire of inspiration 
immediately following the orchestral tone-piece 
Poem of Ecstasy. 

A quotation from page ii of the Poem of Ecstasy 
forms the generic idea of the whole of this Sonata. 
This epigram, which appears in the French and 
Russian, runs thus : 

" Je vous appelle k la vie, 6 forces mystSrieuses ! 
Noyces dans les obscures profondeurs 
De I'esprit createur, craintives 
fifaauches de vie, S, vous j'apporte I'audace."' 

An introduction of twelve bars rolls back fold by 
fold, as it were, the curtain of gloom which enwraps 
the mystery. But we are only yet in the outer 
region, for a Prologue is then rehearsed with the 
following for its theme : 

Lan^ido. /"^TaJ 

con sord. 
This might be styled the Motive of the " Desire for 

* " I call you to life, O mysterious forces I 
Submerged in depths obscure 
Of the Creator Spirit, timid embryons^ of life, 
To you I now bring courage." 

The Poem of Ecstasy (page ii). 



Enlightenment," and bears some relationship to 
the Desire Motive of the Fourth Sonata. It is 
developed at some length, and after a bar's silence 
the movement proper enters (presto) in F sharp 
major (bar 47). This is in regular Sonata form,^ 
and the first subject is as follows : 

This serves as a summons to the hidden powers. 
The most striking part of the Sonata occurs at bar 
96, a more imperious summons than before, which 
may be regarded as the second subject. 

This challenge is given three times, each time 
being followed by dim mysterious rumblings as 

, * Scriabin's adherence to the classical form is very remark- 
able in the face of such tasks of expression as he sets himself. 
So too is his respect for the four-bar phrase, which amounts to 
an obsession. 



of some strange and distant cosmic system. 
An additional call of considerable majesty is 




As a third subject we have a lyrical utterance of 
great beauty softly breathed through soothing 
harmonies. Gunst fancifully explains this as the 
cosmic world called to embryonic life. 

But a strange interruption now occurs. 

Allegro fantastico. 
9 x.p'> _ -P-, ■> 


Things seem to take an unexpected cosmic 
turn. The curtain of gloom again obscures 
everything. It is rolled aside afresh, and the 
themes are still further developed. Almost every 
available key and colour is used to throw 
more light on the themes in this develop- 
ment portion which extends from bar 157 to 
bar 329. In many passages — ^notably in bars 
273-274, and again at 277-278 — his great master- 
piece, Prometheus : the Poem of Fire, is fore- 

Before we leave, the development section, the 
transfor-med appearance of the lyric (third) subject 
with its bold chromatic counterpoint should be 
noticed (page 14, last stave). 

The sheer ecstasy of this is suddenly changed to 
the appearance of the " first subject " proper 
(now in B major) which heralds in the Return 

Here the three chief evocatory subjects are 
agajn unrolled with increased power, only to 
be answered by the Allegro of the powers of 
darkness who now menace and with a weird in- 
toxication, vertiginous with fury (according to 
the indications), but powerfully driven back by 
a luminous motive of blinding light (see next 
page), which pierces its way through as it were 
to a glorious vision of Light and Life. The 
motive of the Prologue here appears in its most 
resplendent light ; it is set out on a three-stave 
arrangement which taxes the powers of the player 
to the utterpiost. 




But the glimpse of radiant light is only, as it were, 
momentary, the mutterings recurring in a Presto 
Coda; and despite the sudden call for the 
Light again, with a thunderclap and a lightning 
flash the curtain of Obscurity is quickly dropped 
— ^the vision vanfehes — ^a deep silence reigns over 
all. . . . 

Technically this Sonata is of extreme interest. 
Whilst the harmonic innovations extend to forma- 
tion as advanced as those used in his Prometheus, 
he here achieves them along the old lines. Hence- 
forward he drops the key-signature altogether. ^ 
His growing fondness for the use of chords built up 
by 4ths is also apparent. For lyrical counter- 
point of exquisite beauty, the third meno-vivo 
theme is peerless. 

• This is not the same thing as saying that he abandons his 
Tonic (like the Post-Impressionists), but merely that he hesi- 
tates to use a signature involving the use of sharps and flats at 
the same time. For a further inquiry into the problem of 
mixed'key-signatures, see the author's Modern Harmony : its 
Explanation and Application (Augener), Chapter VI, page 70, 


As regards the technique of piano-playing a 
great move forward has here been made. The work 
increases in difficulty, but with Scriabin one can 
never say that his work is " un-pianistic."i 

His wonderful mastery of light and shade 
(chiaroscuro) renders this work a complete master- 
piece, for it ranges quite freely over the full 
extent of the keyboard. The sonority of tone 
obtained and the rich radiant display of the 
ecstatic " Glimpse of the Pure Light " in the Coda 
(page 19) is a masterpiece of handling of pianoforte 

Whilst we have here drawn somewhat freely on 
the psychological, or should we say theosophical, 
explanation of this Sonata, following Gunst's out- 
lines, which he received from the composer himself, 
sufficient stress cannot be laid on the fact that 
Scriabin was quite content to leave the Sonata to 
speak for itself, with only the little stanza of four 
lines to point the way to the new territory which 
the composer felt he was entering. Such a reserve 
is justifiable. 

As an illustration, we may take the description 
of this Sonata by Dr. Terry, who obviously did not 
know Gimst's explanation of it. 

" It opens impetuously, soon sinking into 
tranquillity and contemplation. The melodies 
are now more aloof and disembodied. After 

• I am not at all sure of a contrary charge that the applica- 
tion of his new harmonic system in his later orchestral 
works is far too " pianistic " and not sufBciently orchestral in 


another impetuous outburst it subsides once 
more, and above a rich and warm accompaniment 
-wrings the heart with the torture of a bitter- 
sweet melody. A rude interruption, like a sharp 
stab, gives place to the sweet pain of the previous 
melodic figure ; suppressed agitation as of un- 
easy heaving under a heavy load, shouldered 
gladly at length with triumphant effort. Two 
themes — sinister and mystical — later seem to war 
with each other till one is tossed on a sea of 
passion which at last dies down, and the sonata 
ends on the familiar contemplative note — serene, 
content, and tranquil. To my mind (at present 
at any rate) this is the finest of the sonatas." 

I myself played it for many years with some 
similar emotional.scheme in my mind. 

As a tour-de-force in composition, whilst the crea- 
tion of the Second Sonata was spread over a period 
of five years, Scriabin in the full mastery which he 
had already obtained in the new medium con- 
ceived and completed the whole of this Sonata in 
•the amazingly short time of three or four days. 

The Sixth Sonata, Opus 62 

In his Sixth Sonata Scriabin has definitely entered 
the new region of harmony, from which he never in 
future looked back for one instant. In his restless 
search for an ever more refined and perfected 
medium, for a more and more highly concentrated 
spiritual expression, we have continually found 


him hitherto straining at the bonds of the older 
technique — ^breaking out first one place and then 
another into" new regions. And now with this 
Sonata all the old landmarks have disappeared — 
even the key-signature is abandoned.^ 

The harmonic question has been fully discussed 
in Chapter IX. Suffice to say here that, for his 
proper expression in this deeply mystic Sonata, 
Scriabin finds the following ground-chord neces- 
sary : " G, C sharp, F, B, E, and A flat." c| . f , ; i'' 

The chord in the treble stave is doubled in the 
octave above, the full cpmbination being played by 
a double revolution of overlapping hands. This 
Sonata was completed whilst the composer was at 
Beattenberg (Switzerland) in 1911. The Sixth, 
Seventh, and Ninth Sonatas were probably all 
sketched out there during the spring. The Sixth 
Sonata was published by the Russian Musical 
Publishing Society in 1912. 

We cannot repeat too often that Scriabin's music 
is not of the Programme order (as with Liszt, Berlioz, 
and Strauss). Everyone must put their own inter- 
pretation of these wonderfully suggestive pieces. 
For those who may be appalled by the very strange- 
ness of this new music, here is a sort of story 
I fitted to it on first hearing it. I might fancy 
something altogether different on hearing -it again 
at some other time. 

1 But the Sonata has still a firm hold on tonality. It may 
justly be said to be in the key of G, for the Tonic has not gone but 
merely the Dominant. See the author's Modern Harmony : its 
Explanation and Application (Chapter IV, on the Duodecuple 



I see in this Sonata then a Russian version (in 
pure nausic) of the idea which inspired the English- 
man Newman's Dream of Gerontius. 

The fct subject, the theme of the soul, is full 
of that feeling of strange flight, " that inexpressive 
lightness," and that " sense of freedom never felt 
before," of which Newman speaks. 

iirU0, Mi 

The bridge begins at bar 15. With the second 
subject the dream takes more definite shape. 


Le rite orend .^t^g (etani. Jomcew. nraii 

Here again a quotation of "Newman is appropriate. 

" This silence pours a solitariness 
Into the very essence of my soul ; 
And the deep rest, so soothing and so sweet. 
Hath something too of sternness and of pain." 

The pristine purity of this is suddenly embittered, 
however, by a small l?ut disquieting counterpoint 



of two notes which first enters in bar 56, remaining 
permanently with the theme. 

Some crowding figures suggestive of flight 

bring strange forebodings of terror into the third 
subject : 

Aile, tourHllonnant 

which rises into a fierce hubbub, culminating in 
veritable demoniacal howls of dissonance at the 
idea that humans should 

"... Aspire 
To become gods by a new birth." 

A confusion of all the former themes follows in 
this development portion, and the motives of flight 
are almost continuous. The second part of the 
first subject is marshalled with increasing stresgth 



of formation. A mysterious call is continually 

• ~- poCO ptU VIVO 




I S I 

, V f ^Jjj^J ^ 

appel mysterieux 




-> I 


A Miltonic struggle between the forces of good and 
evil is in progress — a time of trial and testing. 

The powers of evil are dispersed and the " Soul 
Theme " emerges with a tender radiance. 

The return section now enters (page 13, last stave, 
bar 2). The. second subject proper is omitted, but 
a remarkable view of the " Ego Theme " takes its 
place on a three-stave arrangejnent. The upward 
soaring soul is broadly spread on the upper, whilst 
diminished forms of this soaring theme are con- 
tinually being lieard in the bass. See bars 244 et 
seq. (pages 16 and 17). This is given twice, but on 
the following page (18) we have a still more widely 
spread arrangement, for a tenor canon is added. 
It is doubtful if greater demands on the ten figures 
have ever been made in the whole range of piano- 
forte literature ; a second player for these passages 
would add greatly to their fluency and clearness. 

But the hosts of evil now return with redoubled 
force ; terror seizes hold of the soul, which passes 


disillusioned through a period of ^smay and 
terror and becomes at length absorbed in the dizzy 
delicious dance of the Joy-molecules of the cosmic 
world. This palpitating, whirling dance forms the 
Coda^ to this remarkable piece, 

Newman in his poem allows the soul to find 
peace and purity. Scriabin, on the other hand, 
seems to leave the powers of evil rampant, and the 
soul still struggling. 

The Seventh Sonata, Opus 64 

This Sonata was also written in Beattenberg in 
1911, and indeed was finished before the Sixth. In 
this composition the thickened mystic atmosphere 
reaches its zenith. Of the two opposing forces, the 
one is still more brutal, whilst the other is even 
more refined and tender. The first theme appears 
thus : 

A second theme enters ia the horn register : 

> Scriabin's technique here approaches somewhat closely in 
appearance to Schonberg's method. But Scriabin has a logic 
which the Austrian has not. 



The mysterious bell-figure which occurs at the end 
of the second part of the first subject (first appear- 
ing at bar 26) becomes an important feature through- 
out the Sonata. 

The, " second subject " proper, marked " with a 
heavenly happiness," appears at bar 29. 

avec una eittata volupti 

Notice the counterpoint which accompanies it : 
Cx, A sharp, and A natural ; ^ as this receives 
a special development in the Coda (bars 297 
et seq.). The second subject has also another 
important counterpoint which first appears at 
bar 39. 

In the conclusion of the " Exposition " consider- 
able combination and development of themes takes 
place ; and there is also a most striking harmonic 

1 These notes are " ringed " in the musical illustration. 



passage which sounds like a discordant toUing from 
some nether-world. 





=□ ;zsaL=5*= : 

^ ¥^ • 

«^0^ S 




J • J • 'a ji 

U'-S— gi 





This codetta runs into the " Development proper " at 
bar 92 (page 8, stave i, bar i). This is of consider- 
able length ; the second subject proper passing 
through many transmutations. The music here is 
of exceeding picturesqueness, the passing of the 
themes being mingled with the tolling of innumer- 
able deep-toned bells, and with terrifying outbursts 
of distant thunder-claps. 

The second theme notably goes through many 
transmutations. This development portion ends 
with two remarkable " pedal-points " — one on E, 
the other on the lowest C sharp. 

The Recapitulation section is surprisingly regular, 
except for the amazing harmony of the now fierce 
first theme, and the piling up of counterpdints, 
big with import, on to the second subject proper. 
These are shaken ofi. one by one until (on page 18) 
the theme appears in the comparatively simple but 
charming harmonic sheen of the " Dominant ninth " 
(page 18). The Scriabinic Coda^ is no less remark- 
able for its extent than for its contents. A vertiginous 

1 Of a kind vaguely hinted at in some of Mahler's Symphonies 
and only once partially achieved , by Debussy in.his scintillating 
" Fetes." 



dance of unrestrained joy carries a new melody, 
founded, however, on the first counterpoint to the 
second subject, which bounds along with it in its 
headlong course to a climax on one of the most 
remarkable chords ever written. Three mysterious 
tolls are heard, and the sounds fly away into thin 

The Eighth Sonata, Opus 66 

The Eighth Sonata was written at Moscow in the 
first half of 1913. It was published by P. Jurgenson 
in the same year. In extent and scope it is the 
longest of all the Sonatas — thirty-one pages long — 
and moreover it is written all in one movement. 

In this Sonata, as in all the other works, Scriabin 
intended the music to speak for itself. Such 
directions as are given in the French indications 
are only for the assistance of the player and not for 
the listener. 

The Sonata is founded on the following remark- 
able sequence of chords, which constitute its first 


The " foundation chord " of the whole piece is the 
second one, marked («), not the first one, as Gunst 



The Lento Prologue contains besides two other 
motives the following sinuous theme on the middle 
stave, and the figure of flight in the fourth bar of 
the upper stave. 

The Prologue extends for twehty-one bars. We 
come then to the Sonata form proper (bar 22) : 

Allegro agitato 








-i H 




\ H-V. 

with the following pendaiit 

Q ^ 




fei u.)= 


^i^ri-i ^jfi 






'^ -« ^ 

£> £> 



' f 

3 / 

1 « 


A considerable amount of development follows 
before the second subject proper makes its appear- 
ance : 


This second theme has also a pendant. The codetta 



which follows reintroduces the motives of the 

A development follows of Brobdingnagian pro- 
portions — nearly two hundred bars. The following 
figure should be noticed : 

The " Recapitulation " section comes round at bar 
329. This is not shortened, but extended. The 
Coda over a Tonic pedal is of remarkable harmonic 
daring, ending with a characteristic atomic Pres- 
tissimo, a cosmic dance which vibrates imtiringly, 
and finally gradually vanishes into space. 

The Ninth Sonata, Opus 68 

Although this Sonata was completed in Moscow 
in 1913, it dates from the period of the Sixth and 
Seventh Sonatas, when the composer was at 
Beattenberg. It is only about half the length of 
the Eighth, and is more poetic and idealistic both 
in form and texture. It commences moderato quasi 
andante, and becomes gradually faster and faster 
from the middle onwards to the Coda, which is a 
veritable dance of joy. This fades away, however, 
towards the end, into the remote atmosphere of- the 
opening bars. 



For the opening, Scriabin follows his favourite 
plan of first creating a harmonic veil through which 
the first chief subject may shine clearly (bar 5) : 

Moderato quasi andante. 

There is a pendant to it — a mysterious murmuring 
subject, low-pitched : 

mysterfevsement mUfmure 

Later on the movement proper enters with the 
following theme : 

followed by a "second subject" of languorous nature. 

avec vne tanguevr natstanto 



The musical atmospjiere breathes of a pure radiant 
crepuscular reverie, and here, as in many other 
cases, one feels the music to be allied distantly to 
the poetic naturalism of Debussy. ^ 

This second stibject is in reality the chief 
theme of the Sonata. The development portion 
begins at the 69th bar (page 6, stave 4), which 
brings about a gradual disillusionment of the 
reverie, an effect produced chiefly by harmonic 

The "Recapitulation " portion begins in bar 155. 
In the 179th bar the second theme loses its 

fautJ^^ displayed for instance in his Preluie, Vapris-midi d'un 


original purity, becoming distorted almost beyond 
recognition. A queer little marching passage em- 
phasises this. 

Alia marolQ.(J:J) 

The theme spends itself out gradually in a character- 
istic Scriabinic dance of cosmic atoms, mounting 
with ever-increasing palpitation into a veritable 
molecular vertigo. The mist of the nightmare 
dispels — ^the painful memories fly away — ^leaving 
the pure semi-luminosity of the atmosphere of 
the opening bars. 

The Tenth Sonata, Opus 70 

This Sonata was written in Moscow in 1913. In 
contrast to the preceding one we have here a 
kind of crepuscular twilight. It is a pianoforte^ 
counterpart of the orchestral Prometheus — a radiant 

' Or rather " fortepiano " as the Russians call it, in print. 
But in general parlance the grand piano is called a " royale " 
and the upright a " pianino " ; so polyglottic are their technical 



poem of pure vibrant sunlight throughout. The 
Prologue contains the following motives : 

(a) Moderato 

^ ' Iris doux et par 



avec^ line ardeur profonde et ; 

The main Sonata-like movement enters in the 
thirty-ninth bar with the Allegro : 


avee emoHon 



The second subject enters at bar 73 (page 5, stave i), 
and as in the preceding Sonata really forms the chief 
theme of the' work. 

avee Jinff Joyeuu efealtalion 

It has a striking pendant (bars 84-87) : 

After this the exposition is completed in a fm-ther 
twenty-seven bars ; the development portion 
proper commencing at bar 115 with the " a " 
motive of the • Prologue. This " working-dut " 
section is very remarkable. 

^ tJH^i^u 




and reaches its culmination in the "Puissant, 
radieux " presentation of the second subject — ^the 
Soul Theme (bar 212, page 11). The harmonic 
technique is here very striking. This powerful 
scintillating passage looks like a piece of Ornstein 
transposed to the top of the keyboard. 


■-tI,isJ- f^ It^ f^ f^ 9 



Two bars (222 and 223) connect it with the " Re- 
capitulation " section, the " first subject " proper 
entering at the Allegro. The second subject appears 
here transposed a major third lower, more lumin- 
ously and brilliantly accompanied. The curious 
little harmonic pendant still remains, and the whole 
piece is consummated in one of those stirring 
vibrating atomic dances of accumulating velocity 
with which Scriabin has concluded the Eighth and 
Ninth Sonatas. 

The Prologue themes are then used as an Epilogue, 
and the piece closes with a rather conventional Plagal 



cadential form, which, however, reinforces unusual 
upper harnionic tones, and has a curious little bell- 
figure of three notes added : 

The emotioiial-colour scheme works out some- 
thing like this. The dreamer lies on the hillside in 
that dim mysterious twilight which precedes sun- 
rise on the mountain tops. The veil of mist 
gradually disappears. Things become more defined 
and vibrant. The first subject {allegro) enters with 
some vague, inchoate emotion — ^the pulse gently 
stirring and warming until finally the Ego Theme 
(the second subject) comes to full birth. Ravish- 
ment, tenderness, joy, warmth, and colour, and all 
which spring from the sun, increase with the growth 
of the Ego. More and more vibrant everything 
grows until the Ego Theme appears to have become 
part of the sun-rays themselves — purified by fire, 
itself a Sun, dancing the cosmic dance of the Coda, 
— a veritable palpitating Paean of scintillating 
molecules. . . . Finally, the dream becomes paler, 
and gradually passes away into the thin ether 
across which sound cannot travel^ but only light. 
The dreamer awakes and finds himself on the cold 



hillside — still in the crepuscular light of the 
Prologue, the music of which is again used as 

It is noteworthy that the last two Sonatas 
show at times a turn to a less involved harmonic 

We have dwelt at even more considerable length 
on the Pianoforte Sonatas than on the Orchestral 
Symphonies of Scriabin, as in them the gradual 
evolution of his genius can be more clearly traced. 
In order to make the view of these periods clearer 
and better balanced, the last four Sonatas must be 
regarded as one phase, as they were conceived 
almost simultaneously during his visit to Beatten- 
berg in 191 1. 

Having regard to the sketches for his proposed 
Mystery, Scriabin seems to have passed away some- 
what from this Inusico-theosophic stage, into one 
more concerned with a combination of the mystery 
of light, colour, and movement, and their unification 
into one new definite art. Herein I think h^ was 
striving at an unattainable, even undesirable goal. 
Like Wagner with his so-called " new art-drama " 
and like Columbus too, he set out to find a musical 
" Eldorado " — and discovered a new continent 
instead. I do not think he has established any 
definite union between Theosophy and Music, but 
h^ has immensely widened the possibilities of the 
purely tonal art. 

In the wonderfully picturesque Dante-hke 
imagination of the Fifth Sonata ; in the romance 
of the Sixth; in the portrayal of the elemental 


world-forces in the Seventh ; the crystalline trans- 
parency of the Eighth ; the weird and sinister 
terrors of the Ninth, and finally in the radiant 
Tenth, we have a contribution to instrumental 
music of the greatest importance perhaps since 



ScRiABiN wrote five Symphonies ; using the term 
in its broadest sense to include the three last 
orchestral works which some would call Tone- 
Poems. They run thus : First (Choral) Ss^nphony 
in E, Second Symphony in C, Third Sjonphony 
[The Divine Poem), Fourth the Poem of Ecstasy, 
and Fifth the Prometheus. There was also an early 
orchestral Reverie (a juvenile work) and a Piano- 
forte Concerto (Op. 3), and at the time of his death 
he was engaged on his projected greatest master- 
piece, Mystery. 

But this is by no means the order in which we 
have become acquainted with Scriabin's orchestral 
works. The following table gives the few isolated 
performances which have come westwards : 

London Performances : — 

Mar. 13, 1913. First Symphony. Royal Philhar- 
monic Society. 
(Conductor, Saf onoff.) 

Feb. 2, 1913. Prometheus. Queen's Hall. 

(Conductor, Sir Henry J. Wood.) 
(Pianist, Mr. Arthur Cooke.) 

Oct. 18, 1913. Third Symphony. Queen's Hall. 
(Conductor, Sir Henry J. Wood.) 


March 14, 1914. Prometheus. Queen's Hall. 

(Conductor, Sir Henry J. Wood.) 
(Pianist, Scriabin.) 

New York Performances : — 

Andante from First Symphony (1913). 
Prometheus with Colours (1914). 

- These performances were given promiscuously 
without relation to one another ; and, with one 
exception (the ThirA Symphony), the works were 
only partially given, and nearly always were 
shorn of some important accessories. In the case 
of the tardy English performances of the First 
Symphony, five movements only were given, the 
last three choral movements being omitted ; and 
the Englis'h performances of Prometheus have 
hitherto lacked the element of colour as well as the 
choral parts. The two S3Tnphonies were played to 
entirely different audiences. The American cautious- 
ness in approaching this Russian composer is worthy 
of note. In England, Safonoff only was entirely 
responsible for beginning at the right end with the 
First Symphony, a beautiful melodious work which 
he gave in London, Liverpool, and other places; 
but always (probably on account of practicable 
difficulties) minus its Choral Epilogue. The main 
object of the London Prometheus performances 
seems to have been the mere satisfaction of that 
eager but rather shallow curiosity in ultra-modernity 
in art which characterised that Spring season of 1914 
which immediately preceded the great European War. 
What would have been the fate of Beethoven's 


works in England had we been introduced in the 
first instance to the Ninth Symphony and the later 
quartets, with no other preparation than perhaps 
the knowledge of a few of the undistinctive works 
of a precocious childhood which had filtered through 
into private drawing-rooms, and nothing more ? 

Yet this is exactly the way Scriabin has been 
forced on us. A few of his little pieces, 0pp. i, 2, 
and 3, perhaps even the early set of Preludes (Op. 11), 
had percolated into England, when suddenly we 
were faced with his most extreme orchestral work. 
Some compunction was evidently felt as to the 
ability of the audience to imderstand so compUcated 
and novel a piece of music; but surely some less 
brutal policy than the plan of playing the work 
twice at one Concert could have been found. Who 
would want to hear, say, the Ninth Symphony of 
Beethoven through twice nmning ? Even the 
players, excellent as they were, were thought by 
the brilliant Russian critic, Briantchaninoff, not to 
have realised fully the proper feeling of the work. 

This inverse method of becoming acquainted 
with an artist's works was only a repetition 
of what happened to Tchaikovsky. But Tchai- 
kovsky (like Bach) was one of those composers who 
attain the full zenith of their powers almost at the 
first bound; and though they reap the benefit of 
their ripe technique for a long time, they never step 
beyond their high-water mark so early achieved. 
Such a plan was by no means detrimental — rather 
perhaps advantageous to Tchaikovsky ; but it was 
the reverse with Scriabin. 


In no other composer is the steady onward 
progression in his art more remarkable. With him 
the evolutionary process is perfectly clear, for he 
advances a definite step in technique and expres- 
sion with each successive work. Whether we take 
the first set of Sonatas, or the Preludes and Etudes, 
or the SjTnphonies alone, this rise in the evolutionary 
scale can be plainly seen. Is it not then of the 
first importance that these works should be heard in 
historical order, if they are to be properly understood? 

The first two Symphonies belong to his early but 
yet mature period. The Third marks the Transition 
stage into the theosophic region. It expresses the 
liberation of the spirit frbm temporal fetters, the 
§elf-affirmation of personality. The Fourth expresses 
the composer's Ecstasy of untrammelled action, his 
Joy in Creative Activity, and the Fifth (Prometheus) 
the real Life of the Spirit in its ceaseless rising efforts 
towards the fuller^ light of knowledge. In the 
latter, Scriabin uses a new medium more suited to 
his purpose. His " mystic chord " introduces into 
music a new system of harmony constructed on 
intervals of the Fourth. 

First Symphoky 

Lento in E major, 3-4 time. 

Allegro dramatico in E minor, 3-4 time. 

Lento in B major, 6-8 time. 

Vivace in C major, 9-8 time. 

Allegro in E minoi',. 3-4 time. 

Andante in E major, 3-4 time. (Two Solo Voices.) 

Choral Finale in E (with Fugue in C). 



The First Symphony was written in the com- 
poser's eighteenth and nineteenth years, when he 
was finishing his courses at the Moscow Conserva- 
toire. It is a work revealing the most precocious 
talents as a composer, and it is a matter of continual 
wonderment to me that after such a work his 
quondam tutor Arensky should have continued 
to " see no reason why the young man should 
devote himself to the career of a musical com- 

The plan of the work is laid out on the broaidest 
possible lines. The early use of an Epilogue and 
Prologue is noteworthy. The Symphony form 
proper is revealed in movejnents II to V. The 
Lento commences with the following Clarinet 
theme : 

Lbmyo ci 

Then comes the following finely coloured theme : 

9ve — 



P dQict. 

* -TTT 



The second movement, Allegro dramatico, is in the 


usual symphonic Sonata form. The first subject 
has a fine " stringy " feeling : 


The second subject is also in dark colours, and the 
melody on the low clarinet notes has a charming 

The clarinet also figures prominently in the third 
movement. Lento; the first subject being a sweet 
expressive melody in the medium register. 

The second subject goes on to the Wood-wind in 
the approved Tchaikovskian manner with little 
fluttering couplets of chromatics on the strings. 
Reminiscences of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony 



creep again into the fourth movement, Vivace, a 
palpitating highly coloured piece, opening thus : 

m^f ^H i '^^ i4 JTi I V li"^ I s 


) I r HP Aj^ I r 1 p -if t l 

The second subject is striking on account of its 
faerie treatment : 

if ^f ff f 

-r;/'-^<^rr 1 


-f— : 


^^< ^J. 

J J^jr-y 

> j: 

-7. J-' 

rj^^~~"J ^ 

ij>'ii^f Bsf p=r pip P"f P"r pip p r r? pip'i 

1 ; i 8 -Jt 

The fifth movement Allegro falls back to 
some solid string work. The first subject being 
thickened out by strings, clarinet, and bassoons 
in Unison. 

The second subject is the weakest in the whole 
Symphony. This movement also is laid out on 
" Sonata " lines. 

Two solo voices, Mezzo Soprano and Tenor, are 
introduced in the sixth movement, a " H5min of 


Art," the subject matter of which is drawn from 
the Prologue. The Voices sing : 

" Pure symbol of the Living God, 
Sublimesi art of Harmony, 
We raise our fervent hearts to thee 
In wonder at your melody." 

Later on the chorus enters with some effective 
antiphony, leading into the final Choral Fugue. 
Truly a striking work for one not yet twenty years 
of age. The movements are straightforward and 
uninvolved. Somewhat unexpectedly in these pre- 
cocious talents we find, if ans^hing, too strict an 
adherence, almost too reverent an attitude, towards 
form and construction — ^a very good fault at any 
rate in the early years. Shadows of Tchaikovsky, 
of Dvorak, of Weber, and Wagner fly across the 
music constantly, but there is plenty of individuality 
already forthcoming, and the masterly handling of 
the orchestra is full of promise for the rich things in 
store. The Prologue is a well-finished piece ; but it is 
easy to point to weak places elsewhere. Some of the 
" bridge work " proclaims the juvenile mind. There 
is a naive little touch at the end of the development 
of the second movement when he marks his horns 
pavilion en I'air. The Fugue also smacks of the 
schoolroom. Indeed it is a regular " school fugue " 
on a very ordinary subject ; but the whole con- 
ception is sufiiciently broad to proclaim the advent 
of a great master of form, style, and expression. 
There is a superfluity of perfect cadences, but there is 
also an effort to unify the whole work, notably by the 
return of the Prologue themes at the sixth movement. 


One of the great charms of the yirork is the wealth 
of wonderful singing passages which he gives to his 
orchestral basses. On the other hand, the choral 
work is elementary. Voices never appealed greatly 
to Scriabin, and Modem Choralism, as we under- 
stand it, is unknown in Russia, It is interesting, 
however, to compare the choral part here with that 
in Prometheus, the only other occasion on which 
he wrote for voices, either Choral or Solo. 

The Full Score of this Symphony was published 
by Belaieff in 1900. There is an arrangement for 
Piano Duet (four hands) by A. Winkler. 

The Second Symphony in C major. Opus 29 

Andante in C minor, 4-4 time. 

Allegro, E flat, 6-8 time. 

Andante, B major, 6-8 time. 

Tempestuoso, F minor, 12-8 time ; leading into 

Finale : Maestoso, C major, 4-4 time. 

This is an even larger creation than the First 
Symphony, and dates from the period of his tutorial 
work at the Moscow Conservatoire (from 1897 to 
1903). Indeed it was almost the only work of 
importknce written during these six " lean years." 
It is in five movements, the first — ^an Andante 
Prologue — suppl5nng the material for the fifth — the 
Epilogue. The largest movements are the three 
middle ones, an Allegro, E flat, 6-8 time ; an 
Andante (metronomed at 44), B major ; and a 
Tempestuoso, F minor, 12-8, leading into the 



The Symphony is not scored for an extravagant 
orchestra ; 3 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 3 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 
4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, and Tuba, 
Drums, and the usual Strings. The first subject of 
the opening Andante is immediately given out on a 
solo Clarinet. 

r^r^ i rprf^ 

This theme is of considerable importance, and it is 
metamorphosed to form the first subject of the 
Finale. Both the handling and the development 
are a great step onwards from the First Symphony. 
The second subject is given to a Solo Violin in order 
to impart a more etherealised colour to it. 

This subject also is used again in the Epilogue. A 
long development follows, and on the first subject 
emerging more clearly — ^triumphantly, the move- 
ment passes over without break to the Allegro 
Return. The first subject goes bounding along 
on the strings with graceful ease :^W. 

and the Clarinet (ajnuch favoured instrument with 



Scriabin as with many others) again claims the 
second subject. 

The harmony of this is significantly predicative 
in places of the composer's, later obsession for 
chords built up by fourths (see Chapter IX). 
The movement follows the usual mode of develop- 
ment, working up to a fine climax before the Re- 
capitulation. A powerful aspiring melody appears 
in the Coda in the brass instruments. 

It is accompanied by swirling chromatic counter- 
points on the strings. Already the young composer 
has a Wagnerian mastery of orchestral handling 
and colour. It is somewhat surprising to find the 
third movement marked Andante, yet metronomed 
at 44 to the crotchet. The Italian term really 
means "going" or "walking," but we must 
remember that the Russian — even the soldier on 
the march — walks very slowly ; he makes up for 
it in impetuosity and speed in the fast move- 
ments. This Andante in B is a delightful Pastorale, 
full of lovely singing melodies, sometimes given to 



a solo violin, sometimes to a cello, and occasionally 
to the full violins with rich cello counter-melodies ; 
all in a happy summer mood, occasionally amorously 
inclined. The composer must have been possessed 
of a deep content when he penned this delightful 
movement, page after page filled with the warbling 
of birds, the ripple of rivulets, and the whisper of 
the shady trees, and the happiness of the country 
under a summer sun. Marvellous to relate, it is in 
perfect " Sonata form " — a form always regarded 
by Beethoven and Mozart as far too long for such 
slow movements. The second subject reminds one 
of Elgar's Second Symphony. 

The fourth movement is a tempestuous Allegro in 
F minor, with broad windy sweeps of melody and 
shuddering string passages. 

Some fine bold counterpoint enters later on : 


The second romantic subject, tinged with a sHght 

Meno mosso. 

viol. I. 

is very short-Uved, being engulfed in a veritable 
tempest which breaksi, out, carrying everything 
before its swirling torrents. The theme of the 
Prologue is heard amongst the tempest on the 
horns ; so too is the first subject of the Allegro, 
but the riotous mood persists, rising to climax 
after climax, until a broadly laid-out bridge (also 
borrowed from the Prologue) leads into the Finale. 
This opens with a pompous theme evolved from the 
first clarinet melody of the Prologue. 

Maestoso, J= 82 ^ ^^ 

A Wagnerian sequence of forceful brass chords 
leads to a tender second subject given out on the 
flute. The first subject then returns, still more 
magnificently arrayed. The second subject now 
broadens out, however, more and more, until it has 
achieved its full magnificence, when a long " Domi- 
nant pedal-point " ushers in the Recapitulation of 
the Exposition of the Finale in full, the principal 
subject of the Allegro (second movement) appearing 
together with the Pomposo one in the Coda. 

This Symphony is a distinct advance on the first 
one. The subjects are (with few exceptions) very 



Striking ; the orchestra is deftly handled, and there 
is a broad homogeneity in the planning as well as 
in the combining of the themes and movements. 
The miwise adoption- of the full " Sonata form " 
for so many of the movements protracts the Sson- 
phony unduly. This is especially the case with the 
slow movement, which is much too long. The last 
two movements do not achieve the high distinction 
of the others. The Pomposo theme evolved from 
the charming clarinet melody of the opening appears 
tawdry in the magniloquence of the major key. 
The Sjmiphony contains many unnecessary bridges 
— ^mere scholastic ohes at that. Two of these have 
a curiously old-fashioned diatonic formula : 

In fact the mmiber of Dominant pedals is a serious 
blemish on the S3rmphony. Moreover, they are 
uncalled-for and could easily be " cut " in per- 
formance. The full " Recapitulation " of all these 
Sonata movements is a pity, as the construction of 
the Symphony as a whole is remarkably good in 
other ways, and the themes are of great beauty and 


originality. The fine quality of the singing melodies 
on the basses is noteworthy ; so is the contra- 
puntal juxtaposition of many of the themes, and 
there are passages and climaxes of immense grandeur 
and power. 

Much as I am opposed to " cuts " I think there 
is every excuse for them in this Syinphony. They 
could be done without interfering in any way with 
the " programme " which one feels to be at the 
basis of this fine work. Would not the composer 
prefer a performance " with cuts " rather than no 
performance at all ? The many beauties of the 
work are too good to be relegated to hmbo. The 
Andante makes a fine excerpt. 

The Full Score was published by Belaieff in 1903. 
A very effective arrangement of the work for piano 
duet has been mg,de by B. Kalafaty. 

The Third Symphony ("The Divine Poem") 


The Third Symphony {The Divine Poem) has been 
explained as the expression of the liberation of the 
life of the spirit from its temporal fetters — ^the 
affirmation of personality. ' It was written in the 
most fruitful season of all Scriabin's creative work 
— the summer of 1903 — ^when probably he himself 
especially felt the joys of a free creative life as com- 
pared with the humdrum routine of tutorial work. 
He must indeed have felt " wings to his spirit," and 
the creations of this period are characterised by 



imaginative flights of unusual loftiness, whilst his 
work is permeated with the optimistic feeling of a 
great abiding happiness. 
This Symphony is laid out on the following lines : 

Lento in C minor, 3-2 time {Prologue). 
Allegro in C minor, 3-4 (" Strife "). 
Lento in E major, 3-4 (" Sensuous Pleasures "). 
Allegro in C major (" Divine Activity "). 

The first three bars of the short but magnificent 
Prologue (sixteen bars) give the three "leading 
motives " of the Symphony : " Divine Grandeur," 
"The Summons to Man," and the "Fear to 
approach, suggestive of Flight." 


Lento. M.M. J : 68-60. 
Divin, grandiose 

*■ 5>- =^ 

m\ u y J r r j ^ 







€ J 


?ig' i» 




ihim 'TrH?rr 


»- pTct- 

These are combined throughout the work with the 
various subjects, and indeed some of the subjects are 
derived directly from them. 

The Allegro ("Strife") is marked "Mysterious, 
Tragic." The first subject with a fine leaping grace 
is given to the violins, and is sixteen bars in length. 

Allegro. U.K. J- B £0-40 
MjfBtfrieux, traffigaa 

Then comes the first suggestion of divinity in con- 
nection with it. ' 

avec un tragique effroi 

This theme becomes more and more confident as we 
proceed. When it dares to appear a little bolder, 

deplusen plus audacieux 




it does so only with a watchful care, and with the first 
subject (Human Personahty) in the Bass below it. 
The soaring of the spirit becomes more daring with 

avec entrainement et ivresse 
piu vivo^ 

but the upward aspiring curves gradually become 
more feeble and attenuated 

mee lattitude el tangueur 

as they fall down to the second subject proper : 


,f I gL. 


Curiously enough this belongs to the same spiritual 
plane as many of Elgar's themes. 

A mood of lassitude passes over the music, and 
with the third subject (or is it the " second subject 
proper " ? It matters little) : 

Mfsf/rtftXf rawawNtiu tfgndatrt 
' tegato ' — '■ ' ■"■ 



we are in an even more unworldly atmosphere — 
romantique, legendaire. A triumphal passage of 
majestic harmony^ 

brings in the return of the Divine Theme with great 

This completes the exposition (about 270 bars), 
and is followed by a lengthy development and a full 
Recapitulation section. The development begins 
with the first subject mistico, which soon mounts in 
force, onl/ to be' cut across by a scale figure of 
considerable power and extent. The aspiring theme 
of the brass harmony (see above) enters, but only 
leads to a formidable crashing overthrow. (There is a 
Wagnerian touch about the chromatic scales in the 
violins here.) The rallying call becomes more 
imperative,'^ and a solid climax is accordingly built 
up triumphantly. We pass once more into the 
legendary atmosphere. A new theme is born, 
tender and wrapped in feelings of transport, a theme 
destined for the chief subject of the slow move- 
ment, then the Divine Theme reappears, but still 
followed by motives of Fear and Flight. This brings 
us to the Recapitulation section when every subject 
reappears in full, except for the first few bars of the 

* Note the Bass progression by major 3rds. See page 186. 


second subject (No. 3, page 181). There is a Coda 
of wild, precipitant flight : 

Sombre, hatetttntjpr4atpit4. 

aomore, nmemnt,prempae., ^^ - 

and the Divine Theme returns in blazing splendour 
with a significant counter subject. 

A short bridge leads us straight into the Lento 
(" Voluptes "), metronomed at 50 to the crotchet. 
These pleasures are very solemn ones. Now we 
se§ why the second subject of the first movement 
was omitted in its recapitulatory section, for the 
chief subject of this slow movement appears to have 
a close affinity to it. 

Lento. M.H ;.60 

A chromatic episode succeeds this, marked " avec 
une ivresse debordante," crossed by a new crash- 
ing motive, which gives way in turn to a 
restful passage completely diatonic with limpid 
arpeggios. This very gradually hushes down to a 
whispering lulling which is almost silence itself, 
over which the chief subject (see above. Lento) of 



the movement appears long drawn out by a solo 
violin dolcissimo. There is some exceedingly beauti- 
ful harmony here : 

Voluptuous and passionate phrases follow, con- 
tinually increasing in power, until we reach the 
motive of Divine Aspiration, wildly crossed by the 
crashing motive : 

which leads into the last movement {Allegro), 
Divine Activities. ^ The opening subject is com- 
prised of the two little motives, one taken from the 
Prologue, the other from the theme of " Jo3^ul 
Soaring." It is marked " with radiant joy." 

i : lU. 


ielaianU 3 ^ ^^.^^^ ^^ - - — - p 

A short breathless entry of the bridge-subject 
of the first movement appears, calming down 



into a new melody — ^the second subject proper 
of this movement. 

avee ravuitment et Iranaport, 
. egprat. 

f ma dolce. 

This, the so-called Ego Theme, is destined for great 
things, for it s3TTibolises the translation of human 
personality into celestial regions. A sweet limpid 
melody then enters : 


after which the Ego melody expands and blossoms 
out into this glorious creation. 

The subjects are all fully treated again in the 
Recapitulation, and the work is consummated with 
one of the finest perorations in the whole range of 
music. As a sheer effort of the imagination, the 
Symphony is an immense achievement ; the themes 
are magnificent ; the handling of counterpoint and 


form is masterly in the extreme ; the harmony 
wonderfully coloured, always of a rich sonority in 
soft passages as well as in loud. The cohesion, 
combination, development, and even, one might 
say, the birth of the themes (the way they gradually 
emerge) is most noteworthy. The harmony affords 
a study in itself. One particular formula of major 
3rds in the Bass — ^for instance, C, A flat, E, C, G 
sharp — is much affected by Bantock. (See the music 
example given on page 182.) The rich singing basses 
of his first two Symphonies are still in pleasing evi- 
dence. But I have two faults to find with the work. 
Is the Symphony any better for such a Programme ? 
I doubt it. The outlined programme is of course 
unavoidable in view of the very full directions in 
French which are inserted in the score, but in my 
mind such a programme or explanation is altogether 
superfluous. The message of the music — ^magnificent 
as it is — is not so extraordinary ; and such a lightly 
sketched spiritualistic basis might be appUed to 
almost any sjmiphonic work of these movements — 
Allegro; Lento; Presto. The addition of the title 
" Voluptes," which someone has freely translated 
" Sensuous Pleasures," to the beautiful Lento 
movement is slightly humorous ; it is only sensuous 
in so far as all musical sound is sensuous in its 
very essence. Then again if a " Programme " must 
be admitted, there is no reason or excuse for 
the full Recapitulations of the Sonata-form ; he 
should have adopted the, more pliable Tone-poem 
form of Liszt and Berlioz. But Scriabin seems to 
have been obsessed with the strict Sonata-form. 


His obsession of the four-bar phrase, too, is quite 

But even viewed entirely as absolute music, the 
Symphony is too long-drawn. The first movement 
alone occupies 127 pages of the score. Truly music- 
making with this Russian is a very serious business. 
(I feel quite convinced that his projected Mystery 
would have been a three-days' affair.) The Symphony 
was produced for the first time in Paris on May 29, 
1905, under the baton of Arthur Nikisch. The full 
score was published by Belaieff in the same year, 
and in 1908 Mr. Leon Conus made a very fine 
four-handed arrangement of the work for the 

The "Poem of Ecstasy," Opus 54, in C 

The Poem of Ecstasy was begun in Beattenberg 
during the late summer of 1907, and was finished in 
January, 1908. As a by-product of the work he 
immediately wrote off his Fifth Sonata in the space 
of four days, so that these two works may be said 
to have a psychological relationship. The com- 
position was first peirformed at the Third Sjonphonic 
Concert at Moscow in 1909, under the baton of, 
Safonoff. It gained the Second Prize in the annual 
competition in honour of Glinka, founded by 
Belaieff ; the First Prize of this year going to 
Rachmaninoff for his Symphony, a work of much 
longer proportions. The work had a mixed re- 
ception, the chief reviewer of the leading Moscow 


musical journal heaping personal abuse on the 
composer ; whilst the assistant reviewer shortly 
after wrote a glowing tribute on Scriabin's musical 

The work is scored for a completely modem 
symphonic orchestra, the Wood-wind laid out in 
groups of three, with additions of Piccolo, English 
Horn, Bass Clarinet, and Double Bassoons, the 
Brass comprising 8 Horns in F, 3 Trumpets in B flat, 
and the usual Trombones and Tuba. The per- 
cussion includes Tuned Drums, Bass Drum, Cymbals, 
Triangle, Gong, Clochettes (little bells). Cloche (large 
bell). Celesta ; there are also two Harps and 
Organ. The String section is necessarily a large 
one, being much sub-divided, and it includes some 
prominent passages also for a Solo Violin. 

The plan on wl^ch the work is constructed is one 
much favoured by the composer. Prologue (con- 
taining the two leading motives) ; Sonata form 
proper ; Epilogue. I give the general outline. 

(fl) Prologue, Andante, Lento, Orchestral Score, 
pages 3 to 8. (Piajio Arrangement, pages 
3 to 6.) 

(b) Sonata form proper. Allegro volando. Full 

Score, page 9. (Piano Arrangement, page 7.) 

(c) Development portion. Allegro, Full Score, 

page 29. (Pianoforte Arrangement, page 17.) 
{d) Recapitulation, Full Score, page 58, Allegro 

volando. (Piano Arrangement, page 33.) 
(e) Coda Allegro molto, Full Score, page 88. 

(Pianoforte Arrangement, page 49.) 


The basic idea of this the fourth chief orchestral 
work of Scriabin is the Ecstasy of untrammelled 
action, the Joy in Creative Activity. The Prologue 
contains the following two motives, which may 
be said to symbolise: (a) human striving after 
the ideal; 

can vqgUa kaigwuio 

(6) the Ego Theme gradually realising itself. 

Lento. Soavamftnte. 

The Sonata-form proper starts with the following 
subject, symbolic of the soaring flight of the 

Allegro vola ndo 

The leading motives of the Prologue are almost 
immediately brought into conjunction with it. 



The second subject Lento is of a dual character, 
the higher theme on a vioHn solo being marked 
carezzando, and apparently typifying Human Love, 
whilst the lower theme is marked serioso : 


The third subject then enters aA imperious trumpet 
theme summoning the Will to rise up. 

The creative force appears in rising sequences of 
fourths, having a close affinity to the corresponding 
theme in Prometheus. 

The themes grow in force and pasa through moods 
of almost kaleidoscopic duration — ^at times spending 
dreamy moments of delicious charm and perfume, 
occasionally rising to climaxes of almost delirious 
pleasure ; at other moments experiencing violent 
stormy emotions and tragic cataclysms. In the 



development we pass through moments of great 
stress : 

con Bortl- 

and only achieve brief snatches of the happier 
mood. Defiant phrases cut right down across the 
calmer motives, the second of which appears in 
full as a Prologue to the Recapitulation section. 
The three subjects are repeated in fuU, followed by 
moods of the utmost charm : 

and pleasurable feehngs becoming more and more 
ecstatic, even Scherzando, at length reaching an 
Allegro molto Coda of the swiftest and lightest 
flight imaginable. The Trumpet subject be- 
comes broader, and assumes great majesty, until 
it finally unrolls itself in a rugged and diatonic 
Epilogue of immense power and triumphant 

The harmonic system of this work may be said 


to be on the border-line between the first period of 
the composer's harmonic technique and his final 
one. The newer harmony is not continuous, but is 
here used in conjimction or rather in alternation 
with the old. The Coda is almost (not quite) old- 
fashioned in its broad diatonic style, being com- 
pletely devoid of chromaticism. The composition 
serves as an excellent illustration of the manner 
in which Scriabin's more advanced harmony sprang 
logically and evolved gradually from the older 

We have attempted a psychological explana- 
tion of the music — ^an almost imavoidable course, 
seeing that it is outlined in the composer's 
French indications, and that he pursues the same 
methods, the very same moods, occasionally even 
the same melodic^subject (c/. the Trumpet Theme 
with that in Prometheus), as he does in his 
other symphonic works. But Scriabin, notwith- 
standing all his explainers and annotators (blessed 
word I), is the champion of absolute music — music 
pure and simple — ^read what you like into it. As 
Schmnann says, " Intelligence may err ; but sensi- 
bility cannot." 

We have then in this imposing sjonphonic 
creation a piece of wonderful beauty, full of rich 
themes, well developed and combined, with masterly 
counterpoint and modem harmony of a hue of which 
the like has not been heard before. It is musically 
logical, full of contrast, design, and colour. At 
times the texture is quite simple ; at other moments 
of great complexity. Altogether it is a work of 


great originality and high pOesy— an epoch-making 
work in the handling of modern harmony; far 
outstripping Strauss, Stravinsky, and all the rest 
of the modems in this respect. 

" Prometheus : The Poem of Fire," Opus 6o, 
in f sharp 

This Tone-poem (which, by the way, is on Sjtti- 
phony lines) is the last orchestral work which the 
master has left us. It was commenced when he was 
residing in Brussels in 1909, but it was not finished 
until after his final return to Moscow, where he 
settled in April, 1910. The striking design which 
appears on all the covers of the music copies of 
Prometheus was drawn by Monsieur Jean Delville, 
the leader of the theosophist cult in Brussels, to 
which circle I believe Scriabin belonged ; or at any 
rate he was closely connected with the members of it. 

The poetic basis of the music forms one of the 
most ancient stories of Grecian mythology. The 
story of Prometheus probably goes back much 
further than the times of Homer and Hesiod ; 
indeed it seems to come from a period coeval with 
the dawn of human consciousness itself. Beethoven 
has treated the legend in his overture - The Men 
of Prometheus, but the form of his legend is very 
much more modem and less primitive than that 
adopted by Scriabin. With that love of primitive 
folk-law and with feeUngs untrammelled by the 
culture of the west, Scriabin, like his compatriot 
Stravinsky, goes right to the very mainsprings of 
the myth. His Prometheus is one of those " Sons 


of the Flame of Wisdom " who were concerned with 
the spiritual side of mankind, and who in the 
remotest ages imparted to man the sacred spark 
which gradually grew and developed into human 
intelligence and personaUty. 

According to the explainers of this myth, 
ethnology proceeded somewhat on these lines : 
mankind in its incipient stages, unillumined by the 
Promethean spark, imperfectly formed phjreically, 
was originally devoid of self-consciousness. That 
is " without Karma." On the reception of the 
Promethean spark they passed to the stage of human 
consciousness and creative power. But only the 
more advanced rightly understood the gift and 
used it on the higher spiritual planes. They became 
the sages and seers of later ages. Those more 
ignorant and less advanced in the scale of evolution, 
on the other hand, turned the gift to gross purposes 
and so brought suffering and evil into the world. 
Thus the Promethean gift of the fire of conscious- 
ness and intelligence brought both good and evil 
into the world, proving both a blessing and a curse. 

Prometheus is scored for an orchestra of large 
dimensions, in which the solo pianoforte plays a 
prominent part ; the Wood-wind instruments are all 
treated in threes — 3 Flutes, 3 Oboes, 3 Clarinets, 
3 Bassoons, plus Piccolo, English Horn, Bass 
Clarinet, and Double Bassoon. The Brass is a very 
full band, consisting of 8 Horns in F, 5 Trumpets in 
B flat, 3 Trombones and Tuba. Besides this there 
are the usual Strings, which are frequently sub- 
divided into eight and even ten parts. A solo violin 



is also used. But we have by no means finished ; 
for there is a very elaborate accessory division of 
percussion instiuments. In addition to the usual 
Tuned Drums, there is the Bass Drum, Cymbals, 
Gong, Triangle, Campanelli (small bells), written in 
the one-foot register, but sounding still an octave 
higher like the piccolo, and requiring two executants, 
{cani(pane) heavy bells. In addition to all we have 
parts for 2 Harps, and (for the Coda) Organ and 
Mixed Chorus of voices. 

The most original addition to the orchestra is the 
Tastiera per Luce — a keyboard of coloured light- 
rays invented by the Englishman, Rimington.i 
The performer on this new optical instrument plays on 
a piano-like keyboard from an ordinary treble stave of 
an octave in compass. Here is a specimen of his part : 

I liBnto 


This instrument plays a continuous r6le from the 
beginning to the end of the Symphony, but it is 
only fair to say that the composer gives a printed 
authority that where such elaborate means are not 
available, " Prometheus may be performed without 
' clavier k lumi^res ' and without Chorus." 

It has been stated that the Pianoforte part is 
supposed to personify the microcosm Man, in 
contrast to the microcosm of the Cosmos repre- 
sented by the orchestra, but I think this idea 
hinders rather than helps the correlation of the 
various subjects and their combination. One rather 

* See page 226. 



amusing feature at the first London performance, if we 
except this r6le for the piano, was the fact that the un- 
fortunate flatness of the pianoforte pitch unnecessarily 
emphasised the frailty of the human side of things as 
contrasted with the more exalted role of the orchestra. 
Remarkable to relate, even with so complex a 
programme, Scriabin adheres to his life-long admira- 
tion of the " classical form " as displayed in the 
Sonatas and Symphonies of Beethoven. The 
" planning out " of this work is as follows : 

(«) Exposition containing- nine motives or themes, 
pages 3 to 23 of the full score. (Pages 3 to 22 
of the piano arrangement.) 
Development beginning with the opening 
theme on page 23, full score up to page 56. 
(Pages 22 to 43, piano arrangement.) 
Recapitulation second theme on page 56, full 

score. (Page 43, piano arrangement.) 
Coda prestissimo, full score, page 73. (Piano 
arrangement, page 56.) 
The work opens Lento with a characteristic 
Scriabinic chord (root F sharp). 

Lento. Brumeux. m.m J= 















&<• T7' ??» 



The atmosphere is nebulous and mystical, and the 
following basic theme is gently breathed forth by 
the horns, intended to suggest a crepuscular, in- 
vertebrate state of Karma-less humanity. 

calme, recueiUt 



W W U' Mi 

This is succeeded by an imperious trumpet call— 
the awakening of the will to create. It does not 
at first appear in its complete form. This is followed 
by a striking harmonic theme, contemplative in mood 
and symbolical of dawning consciousness. 

Cantemplahf. iti M.J. so. 



y r^ jii 











Again the summoning trumpet call rings out across 
the primordial chaos, and the Joy of Life enters 
with the piano figure. 


Ptiisammi. Jajitiix. » 112. 



Alas, with the stirrings of self-consciousness come 
many perplexities, a vague desire for a more 
intense life, an increase of fresh pristine joy. Languor 
is also felt. 

avec langueur 

Human love springs forth in the wake of the 
Promethean gift. 

Joy and pain commingle, and the world-old conflict 
between the physical and spiritual comes into 
being. Development continues until we come to 
the full broad majesty of the opening theme of the 
whole work, which may be taken as the ego or 
" personality " subject proper. 

thim» targe maiestueux 



"LJ LiJ^ "Lg 

' U-J UJ iff 



A new theme enters on the vioUns, marked with 
enthusiasm ; but this is soon confronted by a sinister 
menacing fragment of the opening theme on muted 
trumpets. The piano re-enters with an ardent 
phrase. The development is far too complicated to 
be followed closely here, but some idea of the moods 
which it passes may be gained by a glance at the 
following motives : 

AvecerMtionet ravissement. 



etrange, char me 


Some are of exquisite beauty, others informed by 
a distorted harmony, or by an ahnost revolting 
dissonance. Limpid passages of exquisite beauty 
succeed imperious trumpet themes ; sudden 
moments of sweet and joyous ravishment of the 
ear are met with defiant bellicose motives and 
stormy episodes. Brilliant flashes of orchestration 
and passages hke a cry wrung out by pain pass 
across this marvellous orchestral canvas which glows 
with such wild beauty and striking tragedy. 

The " Return " section, bathed in a luminous 
glow, contains many rapturously ecstatic passages 

The five symphonies 


The themes now reach their full development, 
culminating in a Prestissimo of unrestrained palpi- 
tating delight. 


Human individuality is merged in the Cosmos. 
Towards the end, after some passages of most 
striking harmonic beauty and colour, the trumpet 
theme typifying the " Will to create and attain," 
enters completely triumphant, and closes in a blaze 
of harmony on an F sharp major chord. 

I have shown how the work conforms obediently 
to the aesthetic rules of logical musical construction. 
I will now explain briefly how essentially the 
tonality of the work hangs together on a perfectly 
logical basis. Let us take the opening chord. Here 
is its root position. It conforms to the usual 


formation by fourths, adopted by Scriabin entirely 
in his third period. We might say that the chord 
appears at the opening in its fifth inversion with the 
minor ninth G natural in the bass. The first theme 
(see page 197) is built entirely out of notes of this 
chord. Although it seems completely melodic, yet 
from this view it is a mere arpeggio : — root, 13th, 9th, 
and so on. The second theme, given also on page 197, 
is likewise entirely stable in its tonality, F sharp. 
Whilst the composer holds himself free to take similar 
harmonies oh any of the other eleven diatonic 
notes, ^ yet you will find that the F sharp harmonic 
chord retains easily the nature of a tonic centre. 
The choice of F sharp as the key of the piece will 
interest those who believe in key colour. I confess 
I am not one myself, as our variable concert pitch, 
often to the extent of a semitone, seems to knock 
the bottom out of this theory entirely. 

It is true that the absence of a leading-note in 
Scriabin's new syst,em often gives the impression 
of his tonic harmony becoming Dominant in 
character as in the Pianoforte theme (page 198, 
No. 2) ; but it is not so really, the impression is 
only due to our unaccustomed ears. Nearly all the 
other themes are derived similarly from this Tonic 
harmony of F sharp. 

Prometheus was first produced in Moscow on 
March 2, 1911, at one of Kussevitzsky's Symphony 
Concerts. The work met with an enthusiastic 

• I say " diatonic " as it is of the utmost importance to 
remember that there is no such thing as chromaticism with the 
modern composers such as Scriabin, Debussy, Ravel, Schonberg, 
and others. 


reception by the supporters, disciples, and followers 
of Scriabin, but it completely raystified the rest of 
the audience, who could not understand such a 
novel kind of music-making. There was indeed an 
organised section at the concert who hissed and 
booed and indulged in cat-calls. But this is the 
fate of a reformer, and during the whole of his life- 
time Scriabin suffered annoyance from certain 
hostile and unsympathetic cliques; on the other 
hand, he had in Moscow many enthusiastic sup- 
porters : Kussevitzsky, Saf onoff, Belaieff , Sabanieff, 
Gunst, and many others. Modernity and progress 
wiU always be opposed by routine followers and 
ignorant conservatism. The work made an immense 
impression under the baton of Kussevitzsky, with the 
composer at the piano, although it was not on that 
occasion done with optical colours. The only occa- 
sion on which this was done was in New York in 
the spring of 1915. 

The work was given in London on February i, 
1913, twice at one concert. A number of people 
mystified or enraged (perhaps both) left the hall 
after the first hearing ; but the majority who stayed 
for the second part admitted that the work became 
much clearer at the second hearing. The work was 
repeated in London in the following year (March 14, 
1 914) with the composer himself at the piano. The 
Musical Times of April, 1914, wrote : 

" On this occasion the composer himself played 
the extraordinary pianoforte part, and showed 
that he possessed fine technique if not great 


\ power. Sir Henry Wood conducted the strange 
and connplex music with much skill, being fortified, 
no doubt, after his experience derived at the first 
performances (two at one concert !) last year, and 
also by the help afforded by personal touch with 
the composer." 

The Monthly Musical Record of the same date 
recorded it thus : 

" A crowded audience welcomed M. Alexander 
Scriabin's first appearance here at the Queen's 
Hall Symphony Concert of March 14, when that 
much-discussed composer took the piano parts 
in two of his own works. The first, the Piano 
Concerto in F sharp minor, numbered Op. 20, is 
an early work, in which it is not difficult to trace 
the influences of Chopin and Liszt. Without 
being particularly distinctive, the Concerto has 
many eloquent pages, notably in the slow move- 
ment, and its regard for form is never carried to 
the length of formality. In melodic freshness 
and logical design it presents the strongest 
contrast to Prometheus, which immediately fol- 
lowed it in this programme. It cannot honestly 
be said that the theosophical complexities of 
Prometheus appeared more intelligible than they 
did a year ago, when Sir Henry Wood gave us 
two performances in the same programme. That 
the work has at times a strange beauty all its 
own is undeniable, but it is equally true that it 
contains a good deal that sounds to the un- 


initiated like mere noise ; and, unlike the singing 
of a certain unmusical Bishop, it is certainly not 
a ' cheerful noise.' Unmistakable signs of dis- 
approval mingled with the applause at the end, 
but they were eventually drowned in the appre- 
ciated applause of those who apparently recog- 
nised the truth of M. Scriabin's picture of the 
struggle of man from " the crepuscular, inverte- 
brate state of Karma-less humanity ' to his 
ultimate phase of development. In both works 
Scriabin played with a deftness in which there 
was no trace of virtuosity, and, considering the 
provocative tendency of his talent, he has every 
reason to be satisfied with his first appearance 
before an English audience." 

If the critics as a whole failed to recognise the 
real importance of the work, there were, on the 
other hand, numbers of keen musical appreciators 
amongst the audience who undoubtedly did have 
some perception of the really great ideas and 
thoughts lying beneath this novel yet beautiful 
web of sound. 



" No man putteth new wine into old wine-skins." 

I MUST again draw attention to the unsatisf actoriness 
of drawing any fixed lines of demarcation in the 
divisions of Scriabin's creations. Whilst divisions 
of some sort are helpful in getting a right estimate 
of the whole of his art-work, yet they must be 
regarded as only roughly approximate, as some of 
these later pieces might reasonably be placed in the 
middle period, whilst many of the charming numbers 
between 0pp. 40 and 50 approach very near to the 
final stage — Op. 48, for instance. Some would per- 
haps prefer a larger number of even rougher divi- 
sions, say, 0pp. I to 20, student period ; 21 to 30, 
more mature pieces ; 31 to 40, masterpieces 
in the old style ; 41 to 50, transition works ; 
51 to 60, new style ; 61 to 74, most advanced 

Whatever divisions we may choose to adopt, 
certainly the Fifth Sonata, Op. 52, marks an epoch 
in his work. I have discussed this work in Chapter X. 
In it we see a new, or shall we say rather a more 
definite basis for his inspiration and creation. The 



motto prefaced to the work is a quotation from the 
Poem of Ecstasy, which is probably a poetical 
production much admired by the Theosophists. 
This has led annotators astray to the extent of 
considering Scriabin a writer of the kind of music 
which is clumsily termed " Programme Music," 
and which describes a definite series of events in a 
form of art which undoubtedly leads to the modem 
realism in music of Strauss and others. 

The Sonatas undoubtedly have a close connection 
with these separate pieces, some long, but most 
of them short, where we have, however, a much 
more delightful Way of getting to know Scriabin. 
In these pieces we have one or more of his many 
moods developed and contrasted with little attempt 
to relate them to one another. In the Sonatas we 
find a fixed evolutionary course in which Scriabin 
explains the Cosmos. There are only two exceptions 
to this amongst the loose pieces ; the Poeme- 
Nocturne in D fiat (Op. 61), and Op. 70, Vers la 
Flamme (Towards the Flame). In these he follows 
in the same lines as in the Sonatas, but more 
pleasantly, I think (see page 209). 

These shorter pieces are not theosophic ex- 
positions, or great spiritual dramas, but just the 
expression of one or more moods, mere fancies of 
great delicacy, charm, or force, as the case may be. 
Safonoff describes them as " each like a flower out 
of whose depths a firefly shakes his light." Then 
there are studies, light sketches, pastels, and 
fantastic records where it is just as though the 
composer says : " Pray do not take these delicate 



mosaics of the air too seriously ; I spin them out 
gossamer-like for my own amusement." 

With Taine, writing of the author of The Merchant 
of Venice, ^ we can imagineScriabin saying, ' ' My brain, 
being full of fancies, desires to make play of them. 
Here they are — ^this is the medley of forms, colours, 
sentiments, which I shuffle and single before me, a 
many-tinted skein of gUstening silks, a slender 
arabesque, whose sinuous curves, crossing and 
confused, bewilder the mind by the whimsical 
variety of their infinite complications." 

Like R. L. Stevenson in his languorous moments, 
it was probably not the end which pleased Scriabin 
so much as the journey itself. 

Let us first take the Poeme-Nocturne, Op. 6i. 
It is without key-signature, but it is in the tonality 
of D flat. In the final chord which lingers delicately 
on the ear, both the minor 9th and the major 9th 
appear together. It opens with a capricious grace : 

fiRV uiut ffr/Sfe capnncvse. 

tqgvr, antw^ 

Then come episodes, comme une ombre mouvante, 
comme un murmure con/us, avec une volupte dormante, 

' It is interesting to note that some critics attribute Shake- 
speare's Jl/gycAa«/ of Venice to a Buddhist origin. 


comme en un rive, and so on. Then the chief subject 
appears : 

d«p^ m plus WMMijiM ^ . s^nea &6tbr. 

a moment, of languor follows, only to be followed 
by the irresistible blossoming out of the chief 
theme, mounting higher and higher ; then it all 
comes over again, the capricious grace, the moving 
shade, the confused murmur, the sleeping senses, 
and the clear theme of personality — an exact 
repeat, because this composer is such a lover of 
form and design. Poor evolution, truly — but 
exquisite music. 

The logic is much sounder in Op. 72, Vers la 
Flamme,^ which is in every way quite one of his best 
works. This commences with sombre shades : 

Allegro modorato 

r^ — rr==^ 1 


A^i ^ 







ii. I. 





The music gradually acquires more and more life, 
light, and rhythm until the chief subject is clearly 
defined ; this grows more and more luminous and 
brilliant, finally ending in a climax of blazing 

* Said to have beea intended to form part of a Sonata. 



radiance which requires three staves for its full 

This is rather exacting on the player ; and the last 
chord is a real study, for the theorists. The piece 
is of course in E, but in these higher excursions into 
harmonics, the customary key signature has long 
been transferred to limbo. 

Op. 52 is an inl^resting set closely related to the 
Poem of Ecstasy.^ The first piece contains much 
beautiful harmony. The time signatures are some- 
what confused.* Take the piece to a crotchet beat 
throughout. The cadence is exquisite. 

The key-signature of the Enigma (No, 2) cer- 
tainly makes it appear to end on the Dominant, 
and this marks it distinctly as a piece belonging to 

* Like it, they were originally published privately .by Scriabin, 
in 1908. 
t i,« See, however, V. Karatigin's metrical analysis of it. 



the transitional stage. The two figures used are 
those associated by Scriabin with " Soaring FUght " 
and with the " Dawn of Consciousness." 

The carrying of the key-signature is a decided 
strain on No. 3, Po^me Languide. The close is of 
such beauty that it should convince sceptics of the 
soundness of the composer's use of the higher 
harmonics. But let tyros beware ! 

Another attractive set is Op. 56. The first piece, 
Violent, well marked, is full of augmented 6ths on 
the minor 2nd of the key — a chord much favoured 
by another Russian, Tchaikovsky (and a younger 
Belgian, Joseph Jongen), but never taken in sxich 
inversions before. It is a magnificent rage : the 
rage of an Othello or a King Lear ; I find 
schoolboys love this new harmony. No. 2, Ironies, 
a lively ^Sc/fer^oso, is one of the most fantastic 
things Scriabin has written. Caricatured harmony 
alternates with caressing sweetnesses. Wonderful 
to relate, it ends on a plain common chord. Here 
is'one of its lovely episodes : 

Nuances is a soft velvety Prelude, the inkier parts 
moving mostly in major srds. The £tude. No. 4, is 
the first piece in which he abandons the customary 



key-signature. But do not imagine for one moment 
that Scriabin lets go of his key or tonality. The 
possibilities of the new duodecuple system are in- 

Twenty years ago I remember reading in the 
Musical Times, London, a long correspondence with 
the title " Is music played out ? " Certainly not ; 
but the kind which they meant is. Bach, Beethoven, 
and Brahms did that for them. 

The Feuillet d' Album, which appears in the New 
Russian Album, is chiefly interesting from the fact 
that it is one of the very few pieces which show 
Scriabin's style of pedalling, which was such a 
wonderful feature of his playing. Its position in 
this Album allows an instructive comparison with 
the pianoforte writing of his old master, Taneieff. 

Andante, ftn '■• cmiaM. 

The two pieces of Op. 57 represent the " Longing " 
mood and the dance element, here carried a stage 
further into the harmonic region. 
The Masque and L'^trangete (Strangeness), Op. 


63, are two numbers much favoured by the EngHsh 
pianist, Mr. Leonard Berwick. Now the key- 
signature is dropped, Scriabin can forge ahead! 
There are three very interesting examples of French 
" double-lining " in Op. 65, one in 5ths ; one in 
major 7ths ; and, yes, one in gths ! A very good 
example of how visualising Scriabin's music may 
be is afforded by No. 2 of Op. 67. I often play 
this on the organ with one hand on a soft Vox 
Humana mixture, and the other on a fluttering flute 
stop or Unda Maris. Some hearers visualise flutter- 
ing colours during this piece ; others see sombre 
flames ; whilst one hearer saw hundreds of multi- 
coloured night moths fluttering about in the semi- 

Another delightful fantasy of three passing 
moods alternating kaleidoscopically, begins with 
four bars of airy capricious flight, then a ten- 
derly drawn melody of four bars, a little flutter- 
ing trill, and a fantastic diminution of it. These 
transient moods change in a most delightful way, 
like mirages dancing over rippling wateir. 

The mysterious beU-tones of the Eighth Sonata 
have crept into the Poem, Op. 71. 

Two dance numbers, Guirlandes and Flammes 
sombres, Op. 73, have also a very strong visualising 

The Op. 75, Five Preludes, is the last offering 
which Scriabin has left us. They were written just 
before his death, and it is possible they give us the 
sort of language he intended to use for his Mystery. 
There is always something very touching about the 



swan-songs of composers, their very last musical 
breath, whether we take the " Weim wir in hochsten 
Nothen sein " ChoraUprelude of Bach, or the set of 
Solemn Preludes for the Organ by Brahms, the 
Requiem of Mozart, or this final set of Scriabin, all 
finished in the very chamber of departure. Music 
apparently becomes then more than ever a part of 
a man's soul ; and here the words of Carlyle come 
in with peculiar force. 

" Music is well said to be the speech of angels ; 
in fact nothing among the utterances allowed to 
mankind is felt to be so divine. It brings us near 
to the Infinite, we look for moments, across the 
cloudy elements, into the Eternal Sea of Light." 

The first four of these final Preludes are very 
gloomy in their perverse — one might almost say 
deliberately distorted — ^harmonic expression, but 
the fifth redeems them. . . . We do well to re- 
member here that for the last year of his life 
Scriabin was haunted by premonitions of some 
indefinable fate hanging over him. The first is 
marked " Sad, heart-rending," and certainly it is 
so. Here is the final phrase. 

j/Tj^ iP=^>o 

The piece is onlyJ[i6 bars ; such poignancy cannot 
go on for long. The second Prelude of this farewell 



set is full of a great soughing as of the wind 
over bleak moors. It strains our modem chromatic 
scale almost to breaking point, requiring an en- 
harmonic instrument with a scale like Busoni's 
tertia-tonal one (18 sounds to the octave) rather 
than our 12-note tuning. Still, on account of its 
pervading Tonic-sound in the bass, it is more accept- 
able than the other later pieces. The third Prelude 
is more violent in its proud indignant outcry against 
trouble and ^rief. Although marked Allegro drama- 
tico it is only 26 bars long. The fourth contains 24 
bars of the most cacophonous harmony ever written 
by this most illusive of composers. It is marked 
lent, vague, indecis. Has he passed beyond the 
possibilities of our musical system, or did his fine 
mental grip of things loosen its moorings just for 
one brief moment ? I cannot say. The very Icist 
piece is proud and bellicose. The harmony is 
exceedingly advanced and sounds even more com- 
plex than it is, on account of the delayed appear- 
ance of the Tonic Chord (bar 4). It ends with a 
half-cadence — the diminished fifth being reckoned 
as the Dominant. 

Now the Half-cadence at the end of a piece is 
regarded as a Question — a significant Question too, 
this! . . . 



" Non, la musigue n'est pas un instrument de 
plaisir physique. La musique est un des produits 
les plus delicats de I'esprit humain. Dans les 
profondeurs de son intelligence, I'homme posside 
un sens intime spicial, le sens esthitique, par 
lequel il perfoit I'art ; la musique est un des moyens 
de mettre ce sens en vibration." 

Camille Saint-Saens. 

Amongst the strangest manifestations in the mental 
energies of the last half -century are the many 
attempts to combine Art and Science ; and even 
two apparently unrelated arts themselves. The 
problem of the Opera — a would-be perfect combina- 
tion of drama and music — is still unsolved despite 
the efforts of the last three hundred years— Gluck, 
Wagner, and Debussy notwithstanding. A new 
art — the mimique, or wordless play, with music of 
Wormser and R^bikoff — and the " ballet " (as 
understood by the Russians) promises to be a 
serious rival to the form now known as Opera. 

We have already discussed Scriabin's relation of 
Musical Harmony to the principles of Acoustics. 
Such an attempt is not surprising. Painters have 
developed on similar lines. ^ 

Scriabin's own master, Taneieff, wrote an ex- 

1 Georges Senrat, Paul Signac, and others. 


ceedingly clever treatise correlating Mathematics 
(algebra) and Musical Counterpoint, and always 
taught Musical Composition on those lines at the 
Moscow Conservatoire. We have already men- 
tioned (page 51 et seq.) several artists who had similar 
aims. But although in Brussels many philosophers 
had vaguely referred to a possible relationship, no 
composer until Scriabin had ever thought of making 
(or should we say dared to make ?) the experiment. 

A brief record of the former glances in this direc- 
tion may be interesting. 

First the Scientists. Dr. Maclean, in the I. M.S. 
Zeitschrift, April, 1913, gives a summary of the 
inventions which led men to think of a closer 
approximation of Light and Sound. In the Tele- 
phone (1861. Philipp Reis of Friedrichshof ; 1876, 
Alexander Graham Bell, of Edinburgh, Wiirzburg, 
and Boston), soimd acting on a vibrating metal 
diaphragm at one end of a wire is reproduced as 
sound on a vibrating metal diaphragm at the other 
end of the wire, the transmitting agency over the 
wire being the rapid intermittances of electro- 
magnetism. The action is augmented by use of the 
Microphone (1878, David Edward Hughes, of Bark- 
town College, Kentucky), where carbon-surfaces in 
juxtaposition intensify the electrical resistances at 
the transmitting end. All this is now common- 
place, and an incident of practical Ufe. 

In the Photophone (1880, Graham Bell), sound 
acting on the back of a very thin diaphragm-hke 
plane glass mirror travels to a distance (not over a 


wire with the help of the intermittances of electro- 
magnetism), but over a beam of light reflected 
from the said glass mirror, and comes but again 
as sound. The apparatus which catches the beam 
of light at a distance of perhaps a third of a 
mile is a parabolic mirror, and at this end, con- 
version into vibratory intermittances is effected by 
the combination of crystalline selenium (an element 
resembling sulphur), which has the property of 
being fifteen times as good a conductor of elec- 
tricity in the light as it is in the dark. As a 
result, the ear placed to a receiver hears the 
original sound. Here we observe that though sound 
reappears as sound, yet during its transit from one 
mirror to another far distant it has been necessarily 
en route converted from sound-vibration into light- 
vibration, a principle which is quite absent from the 

But Graham Bell went beyond this, and said in 
1878 that through selenium we should one day 
" hear a shadow " ; that is to say, that form, alias 
light and shade, at the transmitting end, would 
become sound at the receiving end. This is exactly 
what has now been effected in a small way through 
present-day apparatus ; e.g. through the quite recent 
Optophone of Dr. E. Fournier d'Albe, of Birmingham. 
In the Optophone the thing to be sent from the trans- 
mitting end is not sound at all, but light, otherwise 
form-outline. On this is thrown a searchlight frotn 
the receiving end. The searchlight picks up the 
object, brings it along by means of light-vibration, 
and passes it into a receiver containing the selenium 


apparatus above mentioned. The result is that 
when the object is bright the selenium-charged 
receiver hums, and when it is dark the selenium- 
charged receiver is silent. There are infinite 
gradations in this, and there is no reason why with 
further refinement of machinery the receiver-sound 
should not become musical sound. Here, then, at 
last would be physical outline-form recording its 
own correlative music. The idea is not more 
fantastic than would twenty-five years ago have 
seemed the practical results with ether-waves, 
coherers, and attunirigs, since actually attained by 
Hertz, Branly, Lodge, Popoff, Marconi, etc., in 
wireless telegraphy. The Photophone and Opto- 
phone may be at present mere scientific toys. But 
the science-germ at least is there present, whereby, 
if a powerful searchlight were thrown on a rose tree, 
a Venus statue, or a mountain crag, each would 
emit and make audible its own music. Byron has 
said, if in not very musical verse : " There's music 
in all things, if men had ears ; their earth is but an 
echo of the spheres." Of course, all this so far 
concerns form-outline, but could be applied to Colour, 
for there is only a step between these two things. 

All this is sufficient to show some strong like- 
nesses between the two elements. Professor Ray- 
mond sums up the matter thus : " In a general way 
it seems to be indicated that harmonic colours are 
the result of vibrating effects upon the eye of 
multiples of like measurements, thus fulfilling 
exactly the analogy according to which harmonious 
effects are produced upon the ear." Still I do not 


see how the two things can be compared physically, 
since: (a) light travels through ether, sound will 
not ; [b) the speed of transference of sound-vibration 
is infinitesimal compared with that of light. 

Now for the Philosophers. The recognition of 
some analogy between Colour and Sound dates back 
from the time of Aristotle ; but nothing of value 
was attained. Even Rameau and Gretry in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries confine them- 
selves to generalising. Referring to a " colour- 
harpsichord," invented by Father Castel, a Jesuit, 
Gretry says : " A sensitive musician will find all 
colours in the 'harmony of sound. The solemn or 
minor keys will affect his ear in the same way that 
gloomy colours affect his eye ; and the sharp keys 
will seem like brigjit and glaring colours. Between 
these two extremes one may find all the other 
colours which are contained in music just as they 
are in .painting, and belong to the expression of 
different emotions and different characters." 

Mr. Edison, the monarch of mechanical sound, 
has achieved what will probably be his last and 
greatest triumph, by means of the Kinetopkone. 
This is a talking-machine that works in conjimction 
with moving pictures. The idea is to get theatrical 
companies to give performances, which can then be 
carried and sent to all parts of the world. When 
put in operation, not only is the spectacle to be 
seen on the canvas, but the actors' voices will be 
reproduced faithfully and at the precise chrono- 
logical moment. Of course, the two contrivances 


have been worked separately for a long time, but it 
has taken Mr. Edison four years to bring about their 
combination in such a way that an exact representa- 
tion, optical and aural, can be given. At first sight, 
this may not appear difficult nowadays, but when 
one remembers that the words have 'to be heard 
fitting exactly, so to speak, the movements of the 
actors' mouths on the sheet, forming thus practically 
a perfect reduplication of the original performance, 
Mr. Edison's accomplishment will be appreciated. 
Whether it is likely to affect the actor's or operatic 
artist's calling is another matter, though there is no 
need for, say. Sir Herbert Tree to travel to Manitoba 
to give his impersonation of Falstaff, when the 
inhabitants can see and hear him by potted 
mechanism. We do not think it will injure the 
finances of the theatrical profession, for, after all, 
people prefer to see their popular performers in the 
flesh. Rather will it be a great boon to those com- 
paratively obscure centres where there is no. possi- 
bility of famous performers paying a visit. It is all 
very wonderful. 

An American scientist, Dr. Lee de Forest, claims 
that he can produce musicg,l sounds from light by 
means of an instrument which he has invented. 
The Aiidion Amplifier, which has made wireless 
telephony an accomplished fact, is utilised for this 
purpose, and just as the faint vibrations are 
caught by the wireless detector, and amplified to a 
powerful degree, so, it is claimed, can the light- 
giving particles that vibrate at the rate of a hundred 
million times per second be transmitted into sound. 


The Audion is an instrument resembling an ordinary 
electric light bulb, but having certain internal 
Years ago Dr. de Forest discovered that when the 
circuits of the Audion were connected in a certain 
way a clear musical note was heard in a telephone 
receiver connected in one of these circuits. The 
quality, he said, was beautiful, having a highly 
developed fundamental, with few upper partials*, 
but he found, after a little experimenting, that he 
was able to change the upper partials, and thus to 
vary the quality. The pitch of the notes could 
likewise be altered by changing the induction in 
the circuits. The next step was the arranging of a 
crude scale similar in function to that of an organ 
with switches in place of keys. An instrument with 
a hundred bulbs would be no larger than a " talking 
machine cabinet," and the console would be about 
the size of a typewriter. The inventor now hopes to 
produce an instrmnent so far perfected that he can 
turn it over to musicians to work out the thousand 
and one details of musical perfection which such 
men alone are capable of introducing. 

A red herring is drawn across the trail by people 
who attach colomrs to the various keys or scales. 
Rameau was vague. In his TraiU de I'Harmonie 
reduite d ses Principes naturels, 1722, he writes : 
" The major mode, taken in the octave of the notes 
C, D, or A, is suited to lively and joyful airs ; in 
the octave of the notes F or B flat, it is suited to 
tempests and anger, and subjects of that kind. In 


the octave of the notes G or E, it is suited to songs 
of a gentle or gay nature ; also in the octave of D, 
A, or E, what is great and magnificent may find 
expression. The minor mode, taken in the octave 
of D, G, B, or E, is suited to tenderness and 
love ; in the octave of C or F, to tenderness and 

. Gr6try got a step further when he remarked that 
the scale of emotions was common to that of colour 
and sound, for the expression of different emotions 
brought different colours to the face. " Purple red 
indicates anger ; a paler red accompanies shyness," 

No sort of agreement has yet been reached as 
to the manner of applying the scale of colours to 
the musical scale. One experimenter will apply a 
colour scale to the eight diatonic musical notes, and 
suggests variations of the hues for the chromatic 
alteration. Another will use different hues for the 
twelve notes of the octave, with different shades of 
the same hues for the octave above, This aspect of 
the subject was developed by Dr. D. D, Jameson in 
his Colour Music (Smith and Elder, 1844) ; in 1869, 
by J. D. Macdonald, Sound and Colour (Longmans) ; 
by F. J. Hughes in Harmonics of Tones and Colours 
(1883) ; by G. B. Allen, Scales in Music and Colours ; 
and by Mr. G. W. Rimington in The Art of Mobile 
Colour (Hutchinson, 1911). 

The latter was prepared to put his Scale to the 
severest tests; and on June 6, 1895, he invited 
people to witness his symphonies of colour played 
from musical scores on his own " colour keyboard." 


The so-called " colour organ "^ may be briefly 
described as a large box fitted with a number of 
apertures, which are filled in with varied hued 
glass. These apertures are illumined from within 
the box, and are opened and shut by mechanism 
acted upon by a pianoforte keyboard, but which 
emits no sound. Each note in the octave is allotted 
a certain tint chosen from the spectrum band 
(commonly recognised irt the rainbow), the colours 
of each note being decided by the analogy which 
exists between the number of vibrations by which 
the ear recognises the pitch, and the number of 
vibrations which the eye has to receive before it 
can distinguish any particxilar tint. Thus the note 
middle C on the keyboard is associated with what 
is scientifically known as the " low " red ; the next 
hue is given to C sharp, and so on through the 
rainbow shades until the deep violet is reached with 
the seventh note of the scale ; low red being repeated 
for the octave C, and the series of colours recom- 
menced. This is ingenious, although scarcely new, 
but its further appUcation to sound is arbitrary, and 
in several respects the system is a distinct failure. 
The fact that representations of pitch are confined to 
the octave at once shows the inadequacy of the plan. 

The working method pursued was for a piece to 
be played on a pianoforte next to the colour- 
organ, and for an assistant to play simultaneously 
the same piece on its dumb keyboard. When this 
was done the colours associated with the notes were 
thrown upon a white sheet. When chords were 

' Musical News, June 15, 1895. 


struck several tints were thrown on the sheet at 
once, the result being that many of the richest 
harmonies produced a muddy white, instead of the 
rich hues which psychologically were expected. 
Many of the colour changes were, moreover, crude 
in the extreme, and when the notes were played at 
all rapidly, the effect was almost blinding. Mr. 
Rimington had provided an orchestra, which, how- 
ever, still more glaringly manifested the inadequacy 
of the " new art "(?) to represent sound by colour. 
A trumpet note conveys a different idea from 
the same note sounded pianissimo by the strings, 
but the colour-organ blazons forth both with equal 
intensity. In other words, it is utterly incapable of 
conveying the effects of timbre. In his endeavours 
to associate colour and sound, Mr. Rimington has 
overlooked the fact that the capability of the eye to 
recognise rapid changes is far less than that pos- 
sessed by the ear ; that whereas the retina of the 
eye retains the image thrown upon it for the sixth 
part of a second, to the exclusion of a fresh image, 
the ordinary ear will recognise changes of pitch and 
timbre with a rapidity almost beyond capability of 
calculation. The title " colour music " can, there- 
fore, scarcely with justice be applied to Mr. Riming- 
ton's ingenious arrangement of colour representations. 
Mobility of colour, to be grateful, must obvioiisly 
from the construction of our organs of sight be 
restricted to comparatively slow changes, and thus 
colour under thfe most elaborate manipulation can 
only be associated with a very limited portion of 
musical effects, and that but distantly. In short, 


all Mr. Rimington's machine did was to produce, 
now and again, apart from any musical sigrdficance, 
some pretty shades of fine tints, but nothing ap- 
proaching in beauty to those seen at recent 
exhibitions at which coloured lights were thrown 
upon fountains. Rimington maintains that colour 
discords can be phrased and resolved just as 
musical discords and also analysed, for any skilled 
painter can of course resolve a compound colour 
with certainty into its components. But in actual 
practice the degree of dissonance between the colour 
discords and the musical discords was widely 

Scriabin adopted Rimington's colour-keyboard 
for his Prometheus, a dual Symphony of Sound and 
Colour— two S3nnphonies at once in fact. He, 
however, used a Colour Scale of his own, founded on 
the piE^no-tuner's " cycle of fifths," and wrote 
music in a novel harmonic and scientific system to 
give the- colour-symphony a fair opportunity of 
making its effect. 

_ These twelve hues he placed on a small twelve- 
note keyboard on the lines of Rimington's, and 
depended on one, two, of three various hues com- 
bined for his " colour-s3rmphony." These colour 
harmonies followed more or less closely the bass 
notes of his novel harmonies, and the same colours 
are preserved for the same harmonies. Since colour 
changes must not be quick if they are to be dis- 
tinctly seen and not become merely blinding, 
Scriabin's new system of composing was eminently 
fitted for the dual symphonising. At the Moscow 


and London performances Prometheus was given 
without Colour, but at the New York presentation 
the work was given with every detail carefully 
carried out. 

Mr. Clarence Lucas, writing in the Musical 
Courier in characteristic American style, says : 
" During the performance of the orchestral score 
the lights in the auditorium were extinguished, and 
a white sheet at the back of the platform and above 
the heads of the players was illuminated by streaks 
and spots of light of various colours which had no 
possible connection with the music, but which 
served to divert the senses of the audience from a 
too concentrated attention on the music. Scriabin, 
therefore, succeeded in making his music heard in 
exactly the same way that operatic music in general 
is heard — ^that is to say, by a divided attention. 
This Prometheus music of Scriabin is not at all 
extraordinary or absurd when heard under the 
conditions intended by the composer. Nearly every 
chord was recognisable by a trained ear — chords of 
the ninth, with altered fifths, secondary and 
diminished sevenths, with passing notes and sus- 
pensions, and so on. But there was plenty of free, 
though intelligible counterpoint, and much variety 
of orchestral combinations of sounds." 

The difficulty in applying colour to music is 
increased by the confusion of ideas in its manner of 
relationship. Some connect the various colours 
with the various single notes ; others wiU give 
certain colours to certain keys or scales. Scriabin's 
evident preference for the key of F sharp major 



seems to point to some connection of this sort in 
his mind. With the first method people may well 
ask what happens to a piece when the piece is 
transposed, say, a whole tone up. With the second 
method comes the reply, pieces should not be trans- 
posed at all, but should always appear in the original 
key as first 'imagined by the composer. Many 
composers have not this absolute perception of 

The right connection, however, between colour 
and music must be rather on psychic lines. A 
certain harmony, not a single note, produces a certain 
effect on the mind ; the corresponding colour, which 
produces a similar effect, is evidently related to it. 
The common mistake, however, is to imagine that 
the known physical laws and rules will produce the 
result. This is not the case of practical experience, 

Miss Finetta Bruce, in her Mysticism and Colour 
(W. Rider and C©.), describes the Scale of Colour 


Ashy White 
Reddish Black 
Ugly Green 

Dirty Crimson 
Peacock Blue 
Blackish Green 
Rose Red . 









Vanity and Pride 





And the following Octave for Daily Practice : 

Red . 

. Life 


. Health 


. Wisdom 


. Ehergy, Supply, Peace 

Blue . 

. Truth 


. Power 

Amethyst (Mauve) 

. Purity 


. Love (the 8ve, the same 

note as Life). 

Can the moods of musical composition be tabu- 
lated similarly ? 

We have not yet, however, stated the whole 
position. There are already two elements in music 
which serve the purpose of colour. I irefer to 
orchestral timbre or tone-colour, and to chromatic 
harmony. If, as according to some of our modernists, 
"middle C" oh the piano gives a rich red in their 
minds, what is to happen when this note is played by a 
violin or a trumpet ? Then again composers such as 
Dvorak, Grieg, Chopin, and Liszt are remarkable 
for theif strong and beautiful chromatic colouring. 
This is the chroma of the Greeks, the coloured note 
of the Middle Ages ; and so the circle comes full. 

Music does not gain greatly by such a decided 
move in the physical direction ; and sooner or later 
she will find herself in the position of the love-lorn 
Indian princess, with which allegory I will close this 

A beautiful young Indian princess married a 

prince after her own heart, but as the years went 


on and her beauty faded, she thought the affections of 
her lord were waning, so she prayed the gods to give 
her surpassing beauty to win back the heart of her 
prince. This was granted, and the prince's ardour 
returned. But yet she was not happy, and finally 
asked that the gift of beauty might be taken away 
again so that her lord might love her for herself alone. 



As a rule we do not think of the Russian composers 
as being exceptionally gifted on the constructional 
or formal side of music, especially of pure instru- 
mental music. Mussorgsky, Cui,, Borodin, and 
Rimsky-Korsakoff were too much occupied with 
developing ©n their own lines when they were not 
following those three great Romanticists in music — 
Schumann, Liszt, and Berlioz. Such a course 
suited their ardent nature, their many moods, much 
better than the following of traditional designs in 
composition. Their rejection of the Sonata form 
too had something of consciousness in it, since it 
was the outcome of a national stand against the 
musical dominance of the Germans, who, however, 
learnt all their form, line, and tonal balance from 
the beauty-loving Italians. 

How then comes it that we find such a reverence 
for form and design, such a masterly handling of it 
in Scriabin's music, which is such a wonderful 
record of an exquisite sensibility, moods changing 
rapidly from one extreme to the other, from a violent 
bellicosity to the most winning amiability, from 



outrageous dissonance to an exquisite sensibility for 
beautiful tone, from a dreamy meditative introspec- 
tion to one of aggressive energy. It seems almost 
unnatural to expect such a nature to pay homage to 
the demands for the beautiful in design and for the 
tradition in musical form. Yet he does. 

Three things will account for this : the Moscow 
training, his admiration for Chopin, and his later 
attachment to the Brussels Theosophist group. 
The traditions at the Moscow Conservatoire have 
always been on the side of the eclectics. Men like 
Tchaikovsky, Arensky, Taneieff, Rachmaninoff, and 
Ippolitoff Ivan were not the men to let the Con- 
servatoire cripple itself by a too red-hot Chau- 
vinism. The attitude there has always been to 
draw the best wherever it was to be foxmd. 
Melody and love of beauty the Moscovites learned 
from the early Italians, and from the fair land of 
Italy itself ; homophony, counterpoint, and archi- 
tectural form from Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach ; 
orchestration and harmony from Liszt and Berlioz ; 
and the piano-spirit from Field and Chopin. Latef 
on French influence was to make itself felt there. 
In Scriabin's larger forms, in the Sonatas and 
Symphonies, there is something akin to Franck's 
development of Sonata form. But Scriabin's 
smaller forms, his Nocturnes, his Preludes, and 
Studies, were derived directly from the Nocturnes of 
Chopin, who owed them to the originator, John Field 
the Englishman. With Chopin, as with Field, the 
name Nocturne became attached to pieces of a 
similar poetic vein and languorous fancy which 


were not strictly Evening pieces. The time of 
gloaming between the sunset and nightfall pectdiarly 
suits such a mood, but the form which fits this mood 
so perfectly will also express the delicious soliloquies 
which are bom of the lulling, soothing feeling of a 
rocking boat in a calmly rippling lake, or the 
delicious dreams in a slowly swinging hammock. 
The same poetic form served Scriabin admirably 
for a mountain-top meditation in that wonderful 
interval which precedes the Dawn when light itself 
is being bom all over again. The intimacy allowed 
by such a form is its chief merit. " It will never 
grow old," wrote Liszt of Field's form, " as it is so 
perfectly adapted to those fleeting impressions which 
do not belong to that commoner order of sentiments 
which is bred by one's social environment, but 
rather to those pure emotional emanations which 
eternally weave their spell over the heart of. man, 
because he finds them eternally the same whether 
he is in the presence of the beauties of Nature, or 
of those soft sweet tendernesses which surround the 
morning of life, before reflection arrives to darken 
with her shadow those radiant prisms of feeling. 
... He was a composer who played for himself — 
and composed for himself." We feel too all this 
with Chopin, and equally so with Scriabin in his 
Preludes, Nocturnes, or Poems — call this intimate 
mould what you will. 

Born it was in those hours of the day when the 
soul, freed from its daily cares, turns solely upon 
itself and suddenly darts mysteriously into the 
regions of the starry heavens, with the mind filled 


with the pure instincts of Childhood itself. Never 
truly night-pieces, even with Field and Chopin, 
with Scriabin they are made to fit every hour of the 
day — ^matutinal meditations on the mountain tops, 
sunlight reveries, in blaze of noon, and languorous 
afternoons. Fancy free as the form is, it is never 
formless, for perfection and delicacy of finish are in- 
separable from the form. Sometimes it takes the 
shape of a single idea dwelt upon fondly and 
garlanded with arabesques of an. ^Eolian vagueness ; 
at other times it is composed of two ideas, delicately 
poised and gently oscillating in a sort of Rondo 

The Miniature form of Chopin's C minor Prelude 
attracted Scriabin, and he wrote many such little 
pieces, 6 or i6 bars long. The same simplicity of 
utterance and form characterises his short pieces of 
the later period, where a short binary or even a 
unary form serves the requirements of his " mystic 
chord." But an equal mastery of form is shown in 
the longer pieces, in his Sonatas and Symphonies. 
In his earlier Sonatas he shows a strong striving to 
unify the movements, and in his Third the number 
has shrunk to two only. His cyclic forms, whether 
in Symphony or Sonata, show an evolution towards 
a one-movement form which includes all the 
properties of the cyclic forms. The exposition of 
the Allegro — ^the impressiveness of the Adagio, the 
rhythmic appeal of the Scherzo, and the animation 
of the Finale are found all gathered up into one 
complex but unified form. 

He was constantly extending the Sonata form to 


suit the needs of the moment. His First Sonata 
commences with a movement of development, 
followed by a Song-form, a Presto, and then a 
Fmieral March. His second has two movements 
only, a serious Andante and a rushing dancing 
Presto, The Third Sonata goes back to the form 
of four movements, a Dramatico on development 
form, an Allegretto, an Andante, and a final Presto 
un fuoco. There are only two movements — ^an 
Andante and a Prestissimo, and both these are 
connected up into one. 

The Fifth Sonata, one of his most poetic, is in 
one-sonata movement with a Prologue and an 
Epilogue. The last five Sonatas are all in one move- 
ment, They are founded on various " mystic " 
chords and follow theosophic ideas. Thus the second 
subject typifies the awakening intelligence, and the 
third, the Ego or Personality theme, becomes the 
most prominent in the Sonata. Sonata lines of 
development and tecapitulation are. still closely 
followed, the latter, I think, being quite uncalled-for 
with such a subject. Herein I think Scriabin 
carried the reverence for the Line and Design of 
the Belgian school of Modernism too far. Clear- 
ness, intelligibility, and beauty can be secured 
without a recapitulation at variance with the 
evolution of the subject. Truly, he covers him- 
self with glory at the G)da which, in the 
later works, either displays the third (chief) subject 
still more glorified or ends in a dazzUng, whirling 

Of course every piece need not be " a movement 


of development " ; neither need every piece have a 
dimax. Some merely call up a particular emotion 
or are in fact " picture pieces." They do not need 
to develop at all, but merely to continue in focus. 
Many of Scriabin's shorter sketches appear to me 
as " sky pictures." 

One will conjtire up a picture of a snow-bound 
scene just before a December dusk with a pale blue 
backgroimd of sky, banked all round by black-grey 
clouds, and serenely set in the midst in her queenly 
beauty is the merest chink of a bright silvery 
crescent.^A singlej'golden star plays the attendant 
Charmian to her. 

Another will be a glorious scintillating summer's 
afternoon, across which, without warning, tears a 
terrible thunderstorm. Serried ranks of threatening 
clouds file rapidly across, rank upon rank. The 
awesome climax passes and the sunshine reappears, 
now beautified by the mystic colours of the semi- 
lucent departing mists. 

Like so many others — Coleridge -Taylor, for 
instance, and York-Bowen — he seems often to 
have accepted the Beethoven-Mozart Sonata form 
too blindly. These masters themselves were con- 
stantly trjang to mould it and never used the full 
form for slow movements. The blind acceptance 
of the exactly repeated development, for instance, 
is a mere fetish. A form of development such as the 
so-called " Sonata form " is claimed to be — ^though 
it never was a stable, but always a mobile form — 
is illogical. Development of a theme must lead 
forward — ^to a higher power — not backward — ^to a 


tame and wearisome repetition. What should we 
think of a rhetorician who, after his development, 
gave instead of his climax an exact verbatim re- 
statement in fiill of the first half of his discourse ? 
Re-statement or summary let us have, but not 
exact or full repetition. It is this needless padding 
out which is the drawback of Scriabin's first two 
Sjrmphonies, fine as they are, and it has been 
damaging in the extreme to such composers as 
Coleridge-Taylor. Take one of his finest Marches, 
for instance, " Ethiopia saluting the Colours," 
into which he put some of his best music. Why 
did he adopt full Sonata form ? And the addition 
of a third important subject into the Exposition 
makes the matter even more wearing. 

Scriabin's Codas are nearly all of the Prestissimo 
order. The exceptions are when he repeats his slow 
Prologue as an Epilogue in his Ninth and Tenth 
Sonatas. The rapid change of strange harmonic 
bases then makes these climaxes appear some 
dazzling, aerial, and elusive music as of a dance of 
air molecules in the intoxication of the sunlight. 
Gunst would say, " The spirit (or Ego) becomes 
immersed in the Cosmos." I suppose Mahler has, 
however, done this sort of thing in his Ssonphonies, 
and Debussy has achieved it at least once (in his 
F§tes) without any help from a new Theosophy. 
But the fans et origo of all Prestissimo codas is seen 
in Beethoven's Sonatas 0pp. 53 and 54 ; and they 
descend directly in evolution from the gigue, which 
always ended the early Dance Suite. We find the 
same idea of carrying the listener out of himself at 


the end of a piece by the sheer impetuosity and 
speed in many of the organ works of Bach: for 
instance, the C major Fantasia and Fugue in 
three movements with its dazzhng cadenza-hke 

Thus we find Scriabin's works in the direct line 
of development from Bach, Beethoven, Brahms 
and Liszt. 



If one were asked to say in a single word in what 
department of music the Russians as a race of 
composers as a whole were pre-eminent, one would 
at once say orchestration. One thinks of the 
grandeur and the Velasquian simplicity of colouriiig 
in Mussorgsky's operas ; the deep feehng for 
striking tones shown by Rimsky-Korsakoff, the 
masterly handling of full rich colour (and especially 
the mezzotints) by-Tchaikoysky, the blazing pages of. 
a Stravinsky or a Tscherepnine, and is convinced 
at once of the remarkable aptitude of the Russian 
for blending and mixing of tone-colours and of his 
unerring instinct for the right instrument. Perhaps 
it is this last, intuition which saves them from the 
extravagances in orchestral requirements of other 
modem schools, for they are as a rule wonderfully 
economical in the composition of their orchestras. 
They, are by nature orchestral in feeling, and their 
string-writing alone always conveys that remark- 
able feeling of their having put themselves right 
into the middle of their medium. Jhere is also 
another reason which may accovmt for their 



remarkable development of the art of orchestration. 
The Russian School is one of the youngest of all the 
schools, and rose at the time when orchestra- 
tion and the feeling for tone-colour had just entered 

The Petrograd Conservatoire has always made 
a special cultivation of instrumentation, and Rimsky- 
Korsakoff's remarkable book on the principles of 
orchestration reveals at once one of the most remark- 
able factors in its development of this subject. 
Much of his special knowledge was gained by him 
whilst acting as Government Inspector of Naval 
Bands, a post he held from 1873 to 1884. Nor 
must it be forgotten that Rimsky carried on his 
musical instruction by correspondence with Belaieft 
throughout his three years' cruise in foreign waters 
as a naval cadet. . He may well have learned his 
fondness for the cjmibals, the triangle, and other 
percussion instruments from the Celestial Empire 
itself. Indeed the influence of the East is never 
entirely absent from the Russian orchestration, 
but his fondness for bell tones is entirely a National 
characteristic. Unfortimately his book on orchestra- 
tion — one of the best since Berlioz — ^remained im- 
finished, but dismembered as it is, it is still a most 
valuable work. 

If the study of orchestration was carried on so 
energetically at the Petrograd Conservatoire it was 
cultivated no less enthusiastically at Moscow, where 
the young Scriabin would be formed early on the 
excellent lines laid down by Tchaikovsky, Nicolas 
Rubenstein, Taneieff, and G. A. Coniis, himself 


the writer of some fine student textbooks on the 

All these considerations would explain the 
masterly orchestration of Scriabin's 6arly Sym- 
phonies and the Piano Concerto. Orchestration 
seems to have come quite naturally to the young 
composer as Swimming does to the young duckling, 
but there was probably another great influence on 
Scriabin in this direction — ^that of the splendid 
Belgian Schools whose orchestrators are second 
only to the Russians. The orchestral traditions 
at Brussels, Antwerp, Li&ge, etc., are of a quality 
unsurpassed even in Paris and London. There 
were keen professors who were not only developing 
orchestration on aesthetic and dramatic lines, but 
were actually endeavouring to incorporate principles 
of science into the art. I need only mention here 
the names of such brilliant workers as Gilson, Tinel, 
Delius, Chatterij, and others. Then again the 
repertoire at the Brussels Opera and concerts was 
the most cosmopolitan, open-handed, and eclectic 
possible. There the operas of all the Russians 
(Rimsky- Korsakoff, Glazoimoff, Tchaikovsky, 
Taneieff), of the French Masters (Ravel, Magnard, 
dTndy, Debussy, Saint-Saens), and the German 
(Strauss, etc.), were to be heard; and in the 
symphonic line the works of Bruckner, Dvorak, 
Smetana, Mahler, and even Tovey and Elgar. 

There are three chief factors which go to the 
production of good orchestration : 

I. The composition and grouping of the instru- 


2. The harmonic disposition of the music played. 

3. The acoustic properties of the hall. 

In Russia, Scriabin would have learned thoroughly 
the handling of balance, equilibrium, sonority, and 
disposition of the orchestral tone mass. He would 
imbibe there the natural way of writing for instru- 
ments, and in Belgium he would hear music in some 
of the finest acoustic halls in the world. 

It is characteristic of Scriabin that the pianoforte 
plays an important role in both his first and la^t 
orchestral works ; but whereas in the favourite 
early work the orchestral accompaniment forms 
but a background for the solo instrument, in his 
final orchestral work, Prometheus, the piano-becomes 
merely an integral part of an organic whole. 

The first eight bars of the early Concerto at once 
proclaim the composer's fine feeling for orchestral 
colour and his deft handling of the instruments. 
Throughout this Concerto, the instrumentation is 
simple yet masterly. Only in the third (final) move- 
ment, do we find a little weakness in the treatment 
of the orchestral basses. There are many picturesque 
touches, notable in the Variations of the middle 
movement. The orchestra us6d is the classical 
combination employed by Beethoven : strings, 
wood-wind in pairs, the usual brass, and timpani. 

The First Symphony, Op. 26, is on a lafger scale, 
having six movements, the last requisitioning two 
solo voices and a full chorus. The orchestra shows 
an inclination to groups of three in th* wood- wind. 
There are 3 Flutes, 3 Clarinets, 3 Trumpets ; but 


only 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons, and 4 Horns. There is 
also a new feature, which does not appear in the 
Concerto — a desire for vitality of tone texture, 
shown in the opening tremolo for the strings (an 
improvement on Wagner's tremolo), in the trills 
and runs in the final movement, and in the further 
division of the strings. Occasionally, however, he 
only succeeds in keeping the parts busy. The 
string parts in the second movement are very fine, 
and he already reveals a fondness for the clarinet 
as a solo instrument, a preference which never left 
him. He has once for all relieved his violoncellos 
from the rather insignificant task of supporting the 
double-basses. He is at no loss to find numerous 
alternatives for obtaining the eight-feet tone — in 
the timpani, the bassoons, the tuba, or even by 
dividing the double-basses themselves in octaves. 
On the other hand, one of the chief characteristics 
of this Symphony is thd number of fine singing 
melodies which he frequently gives to the double- 
basses and violoncellos. He already reveals a strong 
liking for themes on the horns, in one place marking 
them naively pavilion en I'air (bells held up). In 
the vivid colouring of the 9-8 Vivace, we see the 
influence of Taneieff and Tchaikovsky. There is 
plenty of light and shade in the contrasts, and 
sufficient cohesion in the balance of tone. In his 
Tutti, he rarely gives the bass notes to the cellos, 
thus obtaining a greater sonority from the stringed 
orchestra. The harp is introduced in the Finale, 
just before the entrance of the voices. We shall 
refer to the choral writing later on. 


The Second Symphony also opens with a slow 
movement. A similar orchestra to that of the First 
Symphony is used, but the harp is not requisitioned. 
There is a firm advance in the handling of the 
instrumentation which points to a close study of 
Dvorak's work. 

For the Divine Poem (Third Symphony) the 
orchestra is much larger and the instrumentation 
more advanced. 

Piccolo. 3 Trombones. 

3 Flutes. Tuba. 

3 Oboes. Timpani. 

English Horn. 2 Harps (separate parts) . 

3 Clarinets. i6 First Violins. 

Bass Clarinets. i6 Second Violins. 

3 Bassoons. . I2 Violas. 

Double Bassoon. 12 CeUi. 

8 Horns. 8 Double Basses. 

5 Trumpets. 

The orchestration throughout is rich, sonorous, 
well-balanced, and effectively coloured. 

The modern harmony of the Poem of Ecstasy, 
Op. 54, rightly demands a modern colouring ; and 
the orchestration is accordingly modern in texture 
and hue. The " wind " section is exceptionally 
rich, being laid out in groups of threes. The English 
Horn and the Double Bassoon are also used. There 
are 5 Trumpets in B flat, 8 Horns, 2 Harps, and a 
wealth of percussion — Cymbals, Triangle, Gong, 
Small Bells {Clochettes, Campanelli) needing two 


players, Large Bell {Grande Cloche, Campana), and 
Celesta. A Solo Violin and a Cello play important 
roles in the opening Lento, and the Organ enters at 
the climax in the Finale. The " string " section is 
much subdivided, and both the violins and the 
cellos have very brilliant parts. 

Elaborate as the orchestra is in the Poem of 
Ecstasy, we find Scriabin making even greater 
demands in his next score, Prometheus. Here is the 
orchestra : 

3 Flutes. 
3 Oboes. 
English Horn. 
3 Clarinets in B. 
Bass Clarinet in B. 
3 Bassoons. 
Double Bassoon. 
8 Horns in F. 
5 Trumpets in' B. 
3 Trombones. 
Bass Drum. 


Small Bells. 

Large Bells. 


2 Harps. • 







First Violins. 

Second Violins. 



Double Basses. 

Prometheus can be performed without the Colour- 
Organ and without Chorus. For the Campanelli 
(little bells) two players are necessary. The Cam- 


panelli parts are written an octave lower than the 
real sound. The Celesta part hkewise. The large 
bells are to be tuned — Tenor D, E, G, A, C. 

The orchestration of this tone-poem is of the 
most advanced and modern character of any 
orchestral work ever written. The piano plays an 
important rdh, having many of the leading themes, 
but it is at the same time a constituent part of the 
whole scheme. The handling of the orchestral 
colour is masterly in the extreme. There is nothing 
approaching it even in Schonberg, Stravinsky, or 
Strauss. Alike in the gloomy, vague, and nebulous 
atmosphere of the opening, where sustained tremolos 
for muted strings, with long-drawn notes for muted 
horns, and the roll of drums suggest things im- 
material and shado\Vy, through all the varied 
phrases of the development, right up to the mag- 
nificent climax of intense effulgence and quivering 
light, we feel almost stunned at the composer's 
wonderful mastery over musical sounds and tone- 
colours. Nowhere is there any such tone-picture of 
dazzling light and radiant colour. 

In comparison with the modem works of Strauss, 
Scriabin's orchestra, even for Prometheus, seems 
almost what we term classical. Qjmpare it with the 
following orchestra of Richard Strauss : 

4 Large Flutes. 2 C Clarinets. 

Piccolo. 2 A Clarinets. 

4 Oboes. 4 Bassoons. 

Heckelphone. Contra Bassoon. 

E fiat Clarinet. 8 Horns. 


4 Trumpets. 20 First Violins. 

4 Trombones. 20 Second Violins. 

Bass Tuba. 12 First Violas. 

8 Drums (two players). 12 Second Violas. 

Triangle. 10 First Cellos. 

Bass Drum. 10 Second Cellos. 

Organ. 12 Double Basses. 
12 Trumpets (off the stage). 

and the use of the aerophor, a mechanical bellows 
for sustaining notes on the wind instruments ; and 
all this huge array and panoply for one of the most 
bombastic sound pieces ever written, the Festival 
Prelude, for the opening of the Vienna Concert Hall 
in 1913. 

Although I have included in the heading of this 
chapter the term " vocal writing," the use of the 
voice plays an extremely small part in the huge 
musical output of Scriabin. The voice really made 
very little appeal to him, and I think his case must 
have been still more extreme than that of Beethoven, 
who, whenever he conceived a melody or a subject, 
always heard it on an instrument, and never on a 
voice. The only two examples of his vocal writing 
are used as adjuncts to his orchestral works — the 
Choral Prologue to his First- Symphony being as 
ordinary and old-fashioned as the vocal ending to 
his Prometheus is advanced. The Fugue in the 
First Symphony is little more thah a " school work," 
very regular and proper in form, and thoroughly 
diatonic in style ; whilst the choral part in Prome- 
theus has a close relation to the " Three Nocturnes^" 


Nuages, Fetes, Sirenes, of Debussy. The choralists 
do not sing words, but merely vocalise mystic 
sounds, such as, ah-oh-a-ee. Their part is an exceed- 
ingly unvocal one, and, I should imagine, would be 
almost impossible to sing without the support of 
the organ, which seems to be supplied in the score 
merely for that particular purpose. 



The fortuitous nature of the appearance of Russian 
works in England is responsible for many erroneous, 
and even unfair, opinions concerning the work of 
many of the Russian composers. The greatest 
factor in the English enlightenment as to Russian 
musical art was the Beecham Russian Opera and 
Ballet Season of 1911. Then for the first time a 
really representative series of great Russian works 
was given with Russian singers and conductors, 
including the great basso, Chaliapin. 

At an earlier date the appearances of the Sson- 
phonies of Tchaikovsky and other Russian com- 
posers, under the baton of Henry J. Wood at the 
Queen's Hall, London, have been rather on the 
" inverted cone " principle, but felicitous never- 
theless; Tchaikovsky was not the typical Russian, 
like Mussorgsky, Borodin, Rimsky, and others ; 
and if his last Symphony, the Pathetique, was the 
first to be heard in London, and the others came 
in retrograde order, it mattered little in his case, 
for he had not the continual and perfectly pro- 
gressive and evolutionary genius o| Scriabin. But 
to commence with Scriabin's Divine Poem, to follow 



it with his Prometheus, and not to know the First 
and Second Symphonies at all, nor the Poem of 
Ecstasy, was a course which could hardly produce a 
proper impression of Scriabin's music and aims. 

It is always fascinating to trace the origin of a 
composer's mi^sical creations. Purcell and Handel, 
Beethoven and Brahms, all found their chief 
inspiration in the natural scenes of the country which 
they loved so much ; Schumann and Schubert 
found their inspiration in literature (and what poor 
sloppy literature it was occasionally ! ) ; Wagner, 
McDowell, and Vaughan - Williams derived their 
musical impetus from the sea — ^that symbol of the 
vague longing and unrest which is the life-force of 
the world. 

Few writers, however, have noticed that one of 
the chief inspirations in music comes from music 
itself. All the greatest composers founded their 
work on that of the past masters, and this not only 
in matters of technique and construction, but in 
the essential idea itself. What Handel tried to tell 
us about Nature in the Pastoral Symphonies of his 
Organ Concertos, thousands of others have tried to 
do in later times in different ways. 

This pensive semi-philosophic mood is a great 
feature in Scriabin's music. The Russian tone-poet 
derived much also from Wagner, Liszt, Chopin, 
Schumann, even C&ar Franck. This is not to 
disparage him in the least. All gresit people act 
similarly — and must do so. The hearing of great 
music suggests to original minds that they can 
carry the same idea to a higher (or a deeper) power. 


and they do it. This explains much music which 
the superficial critic merely passed off as " reminis- 
cent in mood." Scriabin's closest mood-affinity is 
undoubtedly with Chopin. The loftiness, the poetry, 
the exquisite finish of artistry, and the patriotism 
of the great Pole were, as it were, but the mirror of 
his own temperament. 

Both, too, were great lovers of nature. As a boy 
Scriabin's holidays were all spent in the country. 
He loved to dream there for hours together, and 
was very sensitive to the beauty of clouds and of 
flowers. When Joseph Hoffmann was on tour in 
Switzerland, a musician came to him after one of 
his recitals and said : " Whenever I hear Scriabin's 
E flat Prelude from Op. 11, I have a clear vision of 
huge rocks rent asunder. I wish I knew what he 
had in his mind when he wrote it." Hoffmann 
forgot the incident till some months later, when he 
met Scriabin in Petrograd, and chanced to play 
him the Prelude in question. " Do you know how 
I came to write it ?" asked the composer. " I was 
standing on the bridge at the Bastel in Switzerland, 
looking down at the flashing torrent flowing between 
the great rocks it had torn asimder in its course, 
when the idea came to me." This derivation of 
Music from nature persisted all through his Ufe. 
When in Moscow nearly half the year was invariably 
spent in some distant province in the country ; and 
almost all his music was conceived there, although 
some of the bigger works were finished on his return 
to the city. Like Mr. Stephen Graham, the famous 
English tramper in Russia, the spirit often drove 


him into the wilderness, to the mountains and 
valleys, by the side of the great sea, and to the 
haunted forests. Once ihe vast dome of heaven 
became the roof of his house; there he re-found his 
God, arid his being re-expressed itself in terms of 
eternal Mysteries. 

What the Rhine was to Beethoven, the Volga was 
to Scriabin. "Great Mother Volga " he knew in all 
her many moods and passages. Dr. Bury writes : 
" I have always understood the strong appeal to the 
historic, and even the poetic sense which the Rhine 
puts forth, but I have never understood the sense of 
the Ideal which a great river might convey until I 
saw, approached, and crossed the Volga." If a 
prosaic English Bishop can be so moved by the mere 
sight of the Volga, how strong must have been the 
influence of this wonderful river on Scriabin, who 
knew all her reaches intimately ! . . . More than 
any other country, Switzerland moved him to 
musical recording, and it was there his wonderful 
feeling for Light and Colour made itself felt and 
grew until it became finally the main idea in his 
music. The same force which made Milton a 
visionary made Scriabin a mystic. Both saw the 
fullest manifestation of the Creator's glory most 
beatifically in the endless wonders of light and 


" Who by His aU-commanding might ' 

Didst fill the new-made world with light." 

The glowing Dante-like canvases of the sixteenth- 
century Puritan became vague, often nebulous, but 
no less gbrious, visions with the twentieth-century 


Moscovite seer, who was a true-blooded repre- 
sentative of that strange land of twilight and vivid 
colours, of Western science and Eastern mysticism, 
of exotic culture, with its vivid native imagination 
and love of beauty. 

It is not the sunset — that symbol of the dreamer 
— ^much less the moonlight and gloom (so beloved 
of the French musicians) ; but rather the glory of'' 
the rising sun, the majesty of morning crescendo, 
and the full blaze of noon, which we find in his 
music. Like Ruskin, he is a lover of the clouds, of 
the tops of mountains — and of soliloquies. All this 
acted and reacted on his music, which became 
more and more visualised. Not only the interior 
world is reflected in his pieces (for Art with him is 
always the Expression of Inner Truths), but he also 
reproduces the actual spectacle of things. In this 
derivation of musical harmony from the light and 
COLOUR of Nature, he was on very much safer 
ground than he was later on, in the actual com- 
bination of Colour and Sound in Prometheus^ . In 
many of the pieces of his early and middle periods 
we find the souvenirs of days and journeys, of scenes 
visited and mental experiences ; obviously he was 
visibly inspired by nature. If Scriabin saw God 
Immanent so clearly in the book of Nature, he saw 
God transcendently in this World of Light and 
Sound. With him we are indeed brought near to 
the Infinite, and we do indeed "gaze across the 
cloudy elements into the Eternal Sea of Light." 
Physical and sensuous art it may often be. Yes, 
but always deeply spiritual as well. " Other- 


worldliness " is the key-note of his work. In the 
shorter pieces, the Prelude, etc., of his latter periods 
he may be almost entirely occupied with the 
physical side of the beauty of Light, and his ss^ibolic 
indications may appear unnecessary. 
The lines of Swinburne come to mind : 

" All lutes, all harps, all flutes, all lyres 
Fall dumb before Him e'er one string suspires. 
All stars are angels, but the Sun is God." 

In his longer pieces — ^the Sonatas, the S5?m- 
phonies, etc. — ^we find him grappling seriously with 
world problems and spiritual forces. In his last 
Sonatas he is indeed endeavouring to pierce the 
great truths — ^the wonder of Birth itself, the 
mystery of Death, the unending puzzle of the 
ultimate Destiny of the worlds. And he does 
everything throughi a glowing harmonic sheen of 
continually changing beauty and light. 

This brings us to another source of Inspiration 
to Scriabin — ^his connection with Theosophy. 

And this is where I am very much at sea. I am 
not a Theosophist, and cannot " function on the 
astral plane," as they put it. Scriabin would 
hardly expect one to judge of Theosophy by his 
music. Still less is one able to estimate his music 
in terms of Theosophy, I am keenly sympathetic 
and appreciative of Scriabin's outlook in life and 
art ; I can at any rate judge of the effect of Scriabin's 
music on myself, and Scriabin certainly wrote his 
music for the general public, and not for the Theo- 
sophists in particular. 

I can well imagine that when Scriabin joined the 


Theosophists he would eagerly welcome a system 
of Philosophy which fitted in so well with what 
musicians are ever trying to express more clearly. 
For no philosophy has systematised the scale of the 
emotions — ^that region so vaguely treated by 
Spencer and all the others — so well as have the 
Theosophists. Nor does any other system ap- 
proach so closely to the regions of that " sixth sub- 
conscious sense " — ^indefinable though undeniable— 
upon which music operates chiefly. Theosophists 
occasionally seem to give too much play to the life 
of the senses ; but one can see at once why a 
musician could welcome such a philosophy, for it 
appears to explain much which he is tr5ring to 

Scriabin claims that his theosophy grew out of 
his music, I think he was mistaken here. I can 
readily imagine that many things in Theosophy 
stimulated his musical imagination in many new 
and more forceful ways. During the last forty 
years theosophic circles, small but select, have 
sprung up in most of the large cities in Europe. 
Important groups were formed in London, Berlin, 
Brussels, Paris, and many other places. But 
particularly in Russia has the new cult taken root 
amongst what are known as the " intelligentsia." 
There are ten Universities in Russia, the smallest of 
which has over a thousand students. Both Moscow 
and Petrograd have close upon ten thousand. Over 
40,000 men are training for professional careers, 
15,000 law, 10,000 science chemists, etc., 10,000 
medicine, and comparatively few for teaching. 


FrecTthinking in Russia can only take certain non- 
political lines, and one which has proved attractive 
to many of these young thinkers is the connecting 
up of Religion, Life, and Art. The Established 
Churches had not met their requirements. Some 
sought new sensations; others, a simplification of 
life and a repose of soul ; others wished to associate 
religious aspiration and social ideals by giving 
both a religious basis. Theologians and poets 
are seldom musical. The former repress emotion, 
good and bad, and devitalise the senses until they 
are scarcely allowed to function at all ; the latter 
are ever jealous of a medium so closely allied to 
their own, and only allow a union of their words 
with music with reluctance. Men of science (especi- 
ally chemists) and painters are invariably musical ; 
and medical men are now becoming awake to the 
therapeutic uses of Music. Much nonsense has 
been written about the close connection of Music 
and Religion in the Western Churches, but this is 
seldom proved in practice, for the general run of 
Church music is of so poor a type as to be quite 
negligible in this respect. 

Scriabin always held the highest view of his art. 
No one was freer of self-seeking and of worldliness, 
no one so inflexible in pursuing his ideal. Here then 
was a possible union of Religion and Music which 
appeared to him ideal. Here at any rate was an 
exercise of the religibus facility which, ^ave a 
prominent place to Art, Beauty, and Design, and 
which seemed to have disappeared in religious art 
after the period of the great cathedral builders. 


The young Russian is, as Stephen Graham puts it, 
"interested in God." Someone has described 
Russian Religion as a " holy love " ; the Roman 
Religion as a "holy fear." Be that as it may, 
Theosophy secured a considerable footing in Moscow, 
Petrograd, Charkoff, and other Russian cities 
amongst the younger thinkers. 

Theosophy is defined as the science of religions; 
it embraces all, but this embrace has apparently 
failed on account of its very hugeness, and the 
philosophy which should cover all has frequently 
become a special cult of its own. 

East and West, despite Kipling, do decidedly 
seem to meet in this new cult ; and the com- 
mingling of two great racial forces is well illustrated 
in Tlieosophy, which as a cult resolves itself into a 
curious blend of Christianity and Pantheism. The 
Christian believes in a God Immanent and Tran- 
scendent — God in us, around us, and above us. 
The Buddhist believes in a God Immanent but 
not Transcendent — in everything but not out- 
side of ever3rthing^ — and looks forward to a 
time when his existence will be merged finally in 

How does Scriabin apply all this to his music ? 
The composer is apparently striving to obtain by 
means of his music that state of ecstasy which 
the true mystic realises can only be obtained when 
a perfect union with the divine has been achieved. 
As regards his pianoforte music, even the Sonatas — 
this attitude is hardly convincing. Occasional in- 
dications of the style of the music are put in 


French ; but by any other names, his music would 
sound as sweet. 

He chooses to call his favourite chord, built up by 
fourths, the " Mystic Chbrd," but there is no mystery 
— except that of Musical Sound itself. Rather, it 
is severely logical. The only case in which we can 
seriously consider his combination of Theosophy is 
in his Prometheus; and there it has provided the 
tone-poem with a strong story or " programme." 
For the rest, it will, and must be, heard as- music 
pef se. In his Mystery, sketched out just before 
his death, he was to carry on the combination to a 
rite, in which the performers were to take a passive 
part. But we cannot discuss this, as, although the 
whole scheme was in Scriabin's mind, hardly any- 
thing was committed to paper. 

Undoubtedly th^osophic ideas helped Scriabin 
much with his inspiration, but they are certainly 
not very apparent, much less obtrusive, in most of 
his|^creations. The later pieces are wonderful 
creations in. the world of sound. Enjoy their marvel- 
lous beauty, whilst philosophers wrangle over the 
aim of beauty. The Sonatas are great works of 
art developed with perfect finish. Everyone will 
read their own programme into them. I have 
already referred to this in Chapter X in the case of 
the Fifth Sonata. 

Art as Religion, and Religion as something in- 
volving the conception of Art is the fimdamental 
idea of Scriabin's music. His first Sjonphony is a 
" Hymn of Art," and joins hands with Beethoven's 
Ninth. His Third, the Divine Poem, expresses the 


spirit's liberation from its earthly trammels and the 
consequent free expression of purified personality ; 
whilst his Poem of Ecstasy voices the highest of all joys 
— ^that of creative work. He held that in the artist's 
incessant creative activity, his constant progression 
towards the Ideal, the spirit alone truly lives. In 
Prometheus he reaches the furthest point of his 
ecstasy in creative energy — ^a point which was to 
have been carried astoundingly further by his 
proposed Mystery, in which Sounds, Colour, Odours, 
and Movement were to be united in expressing one 
fundamental religious idea. 

This attempt to secure a clearly defined con- 
nection between Art and Religion is not confined 
to Music. That brilliant Russian actress, Vera 
Kommisarzhevskaia, had the same restless search- 
ing genius, " the perpetual longing, the strange 
religious craving " that possessed the great Russian 
writers. She too attached great importance to 
colour- schemes — to half-mystic utterances and 
pregnant silences as with that other mystic, Maeter- 

Painters too, like Ivanoff, had their gaze turned 
in the same direction. This artist's sketches and 
studies show a wealth of ideas no less astounding 
than his originality of method. Like Vrubel, later 
on, he approaches a novel world in which Oriental 
mysticism is allied to the early Christian art of the 
old Russian Iconographers. Apropos of this. Dr. 
R. R. Terry has pointed out the relationship of 
Scriabin's new musical method to the old Mediaeval 
system of music. Other musicians besides Scriabin 


have worked on similar lines, but none so character- 
istically and persistently as Scriabin. If we admit 
this attempt at combining Thieosophy and Music, 
then Scriabin has been far more successful than 
Wagner in his Parsifal. But the novelty of the 
position is open to challenge. With Michelangelo 
the sculptor, Leonardo da Vinci the sculptor, 
Beethoven^ the musician, just as with the English 
Watts and' Tennyson, Art and Religion were un- 
deniably coupled. So with Scriabin, it is sufficient 
for the hearer to accept roughly a philosophic and 
religious basis without any clearer definition of 
designation. Indeed this attitude towards his 
music seems to be the one desired by Scriabin, 
the elaborate explanation of whose, music is due 
to his followers rather than to the composer 

All these artists and thinkers then are linked 
together in a movement which is the national re- 
action to that gross materialism which of late has 
been weighing so heavily on governments and 
individuals alike, almost to the point of complete 

In this light, Scriabin's music is of inestimable 
value at the present time. I know of no music so 
entirely spiritual as that of Scriabin ; none so 
entirely sincere or self-effacing — ^although often so 
difficult of approach for the performer. His music 
is the exact antithesis to the terrible realism of 
modem German and Italian composers, and the 
weird productions of the Florentine musical Re- 
formers — who, as Professor Hadow says, " in order 


to add a new page to music hold it necessary to 
tear out all the other pages." 

There are other influences which appear only 
occasionally, but these are mostly in the earUer 
works. That of the Russian Church scales may be 
found in many of the early Preludes ; and the Folk- 
song evidently plays some part in the domposition 
of the Concerto and the Symphonies, although no 
actual folk melodies are used. 

In conclusion, I feel that this is the least satis- 
fying portion of the book, which, however, was only 
embarked upon mainly to set out Scriabin's life 
and creations. I would recommend those who wish 
to pursue this line of thought further, to read the 
Gifford Lectures ^ (1914) of the Right Hon. Arthur 
James Balfour, especially the one on Esthetic and 
Ethical Values. As to the origins of the real musical 
thought, of which sounds, technique, and the 
canons of the art are but as the veil, this is a region 
which even metaphysicists and psychologists have 
not yet been able to approach, much less to enter. 

» Theism and Humanism, A. J. Balfour (Hodder and 
Stoughton, 1915). 


scriabin's position in music 

Few will deny to Alexander Scriabin the designa- 
tion of Modernist ; many may bestow on him the 
somewhat dubious appellation Ultra-Modernist. It 
matters not. Modernity is no new thing. In its best 
sense, it is nothing more than " present-dayism," 
and viewed in this light, it is as old as the hills. 
Modernism was known to the Egyptians, and was a 
favourite topic with the ancient Greeks. It was dis- 
cussed in the Roman forums, and doubtless agitated 
the early cuneiform draughtsmen. Modernity is cer- 
tainly not confined to any one nationality. This 
adventurous spirit has always been present in music, 
and indeed it is the spark which makes for vitality 
and progress in all the arts and sciences alike. There 
is hardly a single great work of music which was 
not greeted with opposition at first. Indeed, many 
of the greatest geniuses in music had to encounter 
lifelong opposition. Wagner in his Music Drama 
writes that nothing irritates self-satisfied criticism 
so much as a steadfast faith. Certainly Bach's 
career was no exception. The life of this great 
genius was one long story of petty bickerings with 
little Jacks-in-office ; and even after his death, 


/ scriabin's position in music 263 

his great St. Matthew Passion was left entirely for- 
gotten until Mendelssohn revived it nearly a 
hundred years after its composition. Even Handel's 
music, ^ which was as simple as Bach's was complex, 
was often hissed and booed by his spiteful enemies. 
Gluck, the great opera Reformer, was the subject of 
endless cabals ; whilst the engaging Mozart had his 
health undermined by the cold reception of many 
of his greatest works. It was the same with 
Beethoven. Lord Lytton, writing in the Fortnightly 
Review in 1872, speaks of a musician of Beethoven's 
day once describing his sensations in listening to 
the great C minor Symphony. He was " one of the 
three," he said, " who sat to the end of the Sym- 
phony out of respect for Beethoven." 

Indeed the whole story of musical evolution from 
the early days of Claudio Monteverde up to our own 
time, anythhig that is new and unusual in art, has 
always excited envious anH malicious attacks. And 
certainly Alexander Scriabin's experience was no 
exception to the rule.* But our audiences are now 
growing much less narrow-minded, and even in the 
professional ranks, where the opposition usually is 
much keener, a modified attitude is becoming much 
more usual. No art can stand still. We move in 
svjift times ; and new phases of art and thought 
appear with every new moon. A multiplicity of 
styles is one of the most striking characteristics of 

• His Messiah met with much opposition in London on its 
first performances in 1743 and 1745. 

* The musicians in the orchestra " struck " at his mild 
tremolo for the violins, sajring it was not possible. Evidently 
" strikes are not of modem invention." 


modem art. To say that one does not understand 
the new music is not the same thing as caUing it 
bad music. If we do not know a man's speech and 
musical idioms we cannot rightly judge his works. 
Of course, all is not music that is modem; nor is 
all good that is old. There is such a diversity of 
style about mo3em art that a keen observer has 
remarked that each succeeding new style is shorter 
in duration than the one before it. Even if some of 
the newer tendencies do seem at first sight like a 
bird alighting from a resting place only to fly away 
again out of sight, yet they do leave their impress 
on the art. The plan of labelhng the different 
styles rather confuses than helps. People mean 
different things by ^he same terms. The " Futurist " 
of the Florentine School headed by Marinetti, is 
mixed up with the so-called French " Impres- 
sionists," and are not clearly distinguished from the 
Franck-dTndy schools, and so on. * 

Terms are employed as if they were of universal 
validity in literature and other arts, having abso- 
lutely no meaning when applied to music. Phrases 
like " Romanticism," " Classicism," " Materialism," 
and " Impressionism " have no relevance to the 
musical art. For music has no element of copying 
nature, like art. It stands by itself, self-supporting, 

The most interesting personalities in music — 
the English: Cyril Scott, York-Bowen, Vaughan- 
Williams, William Wallace ; the Hungarian : Bartok ; 
the Russian : Rebikoft and Scriabin — defy classifica- 
tion. The " whole tone " scale,' for instance, is not a 

scriabin's position in music 265 

purely French device ; it was reached on other lines 
by Schonberg ; and (as we have shown) Scriabin 
arrived at it through a jpurely scientific channel. 

It is only natural that worn-out conventions 
should be assigned to the rubbish heap. An 
element of adventure and experiment will always 
form some part of evolution and progress in art. 
The wise wonder at the usual ; the unwise at the 
unusual. All this does not mean a complete break- 
ing with the past. Far irom it ; for every new 
delight I find in modern music, a deeper appre- 
ciation of the older (the best of it) is begotten. 

Modernity reveals itself in two ways in music : 

(a) by texture, style of handling, or whatever 
you please to call it. 

(6) by the subject-matter or the thought itself. 

Scriabin is an extremist in both these ways. In 
the texture and the style of his later period he 
demands a new language, a new scale, a new way of 
listening and of composing. One of the vital 
questions in musical progress is the problem of 
Discord ; it is almost as elusive and perplexing as 
the problem of Pain in Theology. The standard of 
aesthetics varies from age to age. A combination 
of notes which one generation accepts only on suffer- 
ance will be received by a later generation with 
equanimity or even with delight : — ^Monteverde's 
Sevenths, Wagner's Ninths, Gounod's Thirteenths, 
Debussy's Twelfths, and so on. Scriabin's system 
of harmony founded on fundamental scientific laws 
of vibration opens the door for every possible pro- 
gression of intervals. All the pedagogic accumula- 


tion of harmonic lore of the last two hundred years 
may as well be scrapped. Many passages in 
Scriabin's work seem ugly to us — some almost 
repulsively so. The presence of the offensive kinds 
of ugliness in art is the penalty society pays for 
treating Art as negligible. It is the fruit of lack of 
understanding. Whatever people who are devoid 
of artistic sense may say, mankind cannot do without 
Art ; and it often takes its revenge remorselessly 
for being slighted. Mankind is mirrored in his arts 
in his baser as well as his finer qualities. The ugli- 
nesses which represent fine qualities are welcome, 
and the uglinesses which represent incompetence, 
insincerity, stupidity, cunning, greediness, narrow- 
mindedness, and such unfortunate obliquities reveal 
to us things we could very willingly do without — 
though we are quite aware that we never shall. ^ 

Then, as to matter, Scriabin is essentially what 
writers of the last generation used to call fin-den 
Steele. The attempt to bring Art, Religion, Philo- 
sophy, and even Science into closer relationship is 
not confined to any particular nationality. We see 
it in England with Thompson and Graham, in 
Sweden with Ibsen and Strindberg, in France with 
Maeterlinck ; experimenters all — ^but significant. It 
is the natural reaction of deep thinkers' against all 
that has become conventional, meaningless, hollow, 
in established religion, politics, and social order. 

In Russia, that Country of Extremes, we find the 
symptoms very marked. Scriabin took his music 
boldly over into the theosophical tracts ; R^bikoff 's 

• Sir Hubert Parry, On Ugliness in Art. 

scriabin's position in music 267 

music concerns itself with sociological subjects ; 
Stravinsky's ballets and tone-poems with ethnology. 
But I do not think Scriabin was any more successful 
than the others in this direction. As with the 
actress, Kommisarzhevskaia, her special art became 
in danger of suffocation from the unallied forces 
introduced. Scriabin was in my opinion misled by 
that interesting but unfruitful peculiarity of music 
from the philosophic point of view, which is, that it 
of all the arts seems to be more intimately con- 
nected with dry scientific facts. You can state in 
terms of mathematical physics certain very im- 
portant truths with which music is intimately 
connected, and at first sight it seems as if science 
was going to give assistance in building up a theory 
of musical aesthetics. Mr. Balfour gave it as his 
opinion in 1911 that the belief of any possible con- 
nection would prove illusory. Scriabin's Prometheus 
has gone far to prove that something of the nature 
of a true musical aesthetic can be deduced out of 
the mathematical theory of scales and chords, or 
of the theory of harmony. ^ 

Successfully or otherwise, the daring revolutionary 
genius of Scriabin has tested this connection to the 
nth. power, and quite apart from their intrinsic 
value his works will always remain a brilliant 
exposition of the possibilities of these lines. Such 
an exploration could not possibly be effected without 
opening up other long vistas of wonderful possi- 
bilities. Whilst the other Russian composers have 

» Right Hon. Arthur J. Balfour. Report of International 
Congress of Music, 1911, Novello. 


been experimenting in many other altogether 
different vrays — ^Akimenko, with his Russo-French 
methods; Rebikoff, with his psychosociology ; 
Glazounoff and Liadoff, with their Schnmannesque 
puzzles — a httle naive ; Stravinsky, with his quint- 
essence of primitive folk feeling, and so on — Scriabin 
has opened up an entirely new territory, and, hke 
Wagner, has exploited it himself to the utmost 
capacity. It may be a brilliant failure in a way, 
and yet it is a masterly success. It did not lead 
Scriabin to the goal he was seeking, and I think his 
proposed Mystery would have led him on to still 
more impossible ground. 

His Prometheus means, once for all, a withdrawal 
of mathematical and acoustic theories from practical 
harmony, which must ever remain in the sphere of 
aesthetics alone. , 

His union of Light and Sound too has not, nor 
will not, pass the stage of an interesting experiment. 
What are we to say then of Movement and Heat ? 
The best conjunction so far is the Russian melo- 
mimique, which constitutes a far more artistic blend 
than words, music, and action in the opera. In his 
peculiar outlook on life, religion, and art Scriabin 
remains essentially a Russian of the Russians. In 
his musical achievements he has left a contribution 
to instrumental music worthy to rank with any 
of the great masters of the past — Bach, Mozart, 
Beethoven, Brahms* and Chopin not excepted. His 
bold attack on routine proves to the hilt that the 
codes of the art could undergo a complete aesthetic 
renewal without owing anything to of&cial and 

scriabin's position in music 269 

academic encouragement. His fecundity, his cour- 
age, and his sure originahty have struck a severe 
blow on academic convention, and have wrested from 
the academics the prestige of teaching which has lain 
so heavily on the students of the last fifty years, 
conventions transmitted from master to pupil 
without consideration for the evolution of modem 
life or for the growing intelligence of the auditor. 
In fact Scriabin has brought about a complete 
renewal of the hearing faculty which will fertilise not 
only one field, but the whole of the musical art. 



"La musigue est si jeune encore qu'elle ne connait 
pas sa force, gu'elie ne soupfonne pas sa puissance." 


When we consider ihat Music, as we Westerns 
understand it, is the youngest of all the arts, barely 
three hundred years old, its amazing development, 
slow in the seventeenth century, more sure in the 
eighteenth, and nothing short of marvellous in the 
nineteenth, we are dumb with amaze at the future 
possibilities of the tonal art. " Music in our day," 
writes William Wallace^ (the only living direct 
descendant of the great Wallace), "consists of a 
perpetual struggle to give definite expression to 
subconscious thought. No one can tell for how 
many centuries the strife wiU continue until man 
evolves the new faculty which will make the content 
of music clear. Whatever it may signify in time to 
come,' we are bound to consider it as a faculty fitted 
to the special circumstances of him who possesses 
it. In remoter times man may have heard, with 
the ear of his mind, all that was necessary for his 
life and for his way of living. The faculty for music 
has gradually developed in step with human needs 
> The Threshold of Music (Macmillan and Co) . 


and endeavours. It is now, more than at any 
former period, seeking for a substantial basis upon 
which to erect itself in closer relation with the other 
expressions of man's mind. It has a vague per- 
ception that its destiny is yet to be pronounced, 
and those who possess it are showing this by their 
work. We are all groping in a mist, and the sum of 
our life is but a breath tossed to the wind. But, if 
the history of evolution is of any value, surely we 
who employ the musical sense are the forerunners 
of a race which will bring into man's comprehension 
a new form of reason — perhaps even an altered 
system of ethics." 

Is further progress possible upon the lines laid 
down in Scriabin's new harmony ? Not, I think, 
with the method used by Scriabin. His effort to 
catch a higher mystic meaning naturally involved 
him in innovation and experimentation, which led 
to an exaggerated (perhaps even a false) use of his 
chords. This was brought about by his extended 
mystic ideas, and the idea of combining Sound and 
Colour. This certainly crippled his melody, and 
led him occasionally even to meaningless repetition 
and reiteration of his points, which stood in the 
way of sustained development and phrasing. His 
curious, almost anxious, devotion to exact des%n 
also exaggerated this defect ; for instance, he 
frequently repeats the last bar of a three-bar phrase, 
apparently merely for the sake of a poetical balance. 

But on other lines undoubtedly his exploitation of 
the higher harmonies will lead to wonderfiol develop- 
ments, which are even akeady in evidence. Certain 


passages in the music of York-Bowen, Frank Bridge, 
John Ireland, and many other English composers 
go far to point the way. 

Scriabin's adoption of the " raised eleventh " (or 
4th), particularly with his absolutely free treat- 
ment of inversion and spacing, is especially stimu- 
lating. But his habit of altering it at will into a 
" diminished twelfth " (or fifth) is open to question. 
The net result of his developments points in the 
direction of the adoption of a " tertia-tonal " 
system — the division of the octave into 18 steps. 
Then indeed would still more wonderful harmraiies 
be possible, and these on a system of tuning much 
more perfect than the present one. Wisdom, dis= 
covery, art, science, civilisation have all risen in the 
East and set Westward in ebb and flow. Will 
Music again ebb Eastward before its next stride 
forward in energy and expression and development ? 
The great Italian pianist and composer, Feruccio 
Busoni, thinks so, and looks forward to a tertia- 
tonal scale system. The famous musical theorist. 
Dr. Menchaca of Buenos Ayres, urges a much finer 
system of musical tuning ; and the Italian com- 
poser, Aleleona, has written music for an even more ~ 
delicately divided octave. 

The question of concord and discord in musical 
art may be raised here ; but after all this is but a 
school quibble, for there is no hard and fast line 
between the two. The older contrapuntists reckoned 
the " fourth " as a discord. Nowadays we accept 
the dominant seventh as a concord ; and then comes 
Scriabin with his wonderful structure of foiui:hs. 


which he accepts as the most perfect of concords, 
and this latter position is absolutely necessary for 
the full comprehension of his later works. 

As for his proposed union of soimd and colour, 
music does not stand to gain much by it ; rather is it 
likely to lose. Even the question of opera, where 
words, music, and acting are combined, has not yet 
reached a satisfying art form. One cannot even 
watch the wonderful Russian ballets without missing 
much of the splendid music which was specially 
written for them. The boundaries of an art are 
never widened by alliance with a sister art. I have 
recently been shown a book on textile weaving 
from musical notation.^ Music has not gained 
thereby, and I have not yet heard of any wonderful 
development in the ancient art of pattern weaving 
resulting therefrom. 

One is reminded of that pluralist, who is becom- 
ing rather fashionable at our cathedrals just now, 
the priest-organist. He is usually either a poor 
priest or a poor organist, occasionally both. 

So it is with the imion of the arts. One tends to 
lose much; but frequently both are the poorer 

• Harmonic and Keyboard Designing. An easy method of 
producing an endless variety of most beautiful designs suited 
to numberless manufactures by unskilled persons from any 
piece of music, by C. H. Wilkinson, author of Harmonious 


The early works of Scriabin were engraved in Russia 
some twenty-five years ago. They are not very well 
done, and are not free from the misprints which mar 
the copies of his work throughout his life. The full 
scores of all his orchestral works were engraved in 
Grermany and are beautifully done. Owing to the 
unsatisfactory condition of the international copy- 
right laws in Russia — ^indeed there are none — this 
plan of having his works engraved outside the 
country is the only possible way for the author to 
secure the copyright, and enjoy the proceeds of his 

The later works were all engraved in Moscow and 
are done in a highly finished way which it would be 
difificult to surpass in any country. But all the 
copies, right from the early to the final period, 
contain serious misprints, not easy for the un- 
initiated to discover quickly ; and this is all the 
more serious with music of so original (and at first 
strange) a character as Scriabin's, not to mention 
the difficulties of the new notation. I intend to 
take an early opportunity of publishing a complete 
list of these musical errata. 




1. Pianoforte Concerto, Opus 20, written about 1894 
whilst a student at Moscow. First performed about 
1896. Full score published by Belaieff in 1898. 

2. Reverie for orchestra, Opu^ 24. Written whilst a 
student at Moscow. Full score published by Belaieff in 
1908. Pianftforte duet arrangenaent by A. Winkler. 

3. First Symphony, Opus 26, in E major with Choral 
Epilogue, written about 1895 whilst a student at 
Moscow Conservatoire. Performed about 1897. Full 
score published by Belaieff in 1900. Pianoforte duet 
arrangement by A. Winkler published in the same 

4. Second Symphony, Opus 29, in C minor. Com- 
posed at Moscow some time before 1903. Full score 
publi^ed by Belaieff in the samfe year. Arrangement 
for two pianofortes by B. Kalafaty in the same year. 

5. Third Symphony, The Divine Poem, C minor and 
major, Opus 43, written in the summer of 1903 probably 
in Switzerland. Full score published by Belaieff in 
1905. Pianoforte duet by L6on Conus published in 

6. The Poem of Ecstasy, Opus 54, finished in January, 
1908, at Lausanne. First performed at Moscow 1909. 



Awarded the Glinka prize in- 1909. Full score published 
by Belaieff in igo8. Pianoforte duet by Leon Conus in 

7. Prometheus, or Poem of Fire, begun at Brussels in 
1909, finished at Moscow April, 1910. First performed 
at Moscow March 2, rgii, under Kussevitzsky. Full 
score published by the Russian Musical Publishing 
Society in 191 1. Arrangement for two pianos by 
Leon Sabaniefi in 1913. 

Pianoforte Sonatas 

First Sonata, Opus 6, in F minor, written at Moscow 
in 1892, immediately at the end of his student's course. 
Published by Belaieff in 1895. 

Second Sonata, Opus 19 — Fantasy Sonata — in G 
sharp minor. Firgt movement written at Genoa in 
1892, second movement written in the Crimea in 1897. 
Published by Belaieff in 1898. 

Third Sonata, Opus 23, in F sharp minor, written on 
the Maidanoff Estate in 1897. Published by Belaieff in 

Fourth Sonata, Opus 30, in F sharp major, written 
(probably at Moscow) in 1903. Published by Belaiefi 
in 1904. ' 

Fifth Sonata, Opus 53, in F sharp major, written at 
Lausanne in 1908. First published at his own expense 
in Paris in the same year. Published later by the 
Russian Musical Publishing Society. 

Sixth Sonata, Opus 62, in G. Started at Beattenberg 
in 191 1, and finished a little later. Published by the 
Russian Musical Publishing Society in 1912. 


Seventh Sonata, Opus 64, in F sharp, written at 
Beattenberg in 1911, finished before the Sixth. Pub- 
lished by the Russian Musical Publishing Society in 

Eighth Sonata, Opus 66, in A. Written at Moscow 
in the early part of 1913. Published by Jurgenson in 

Ninth Sonata, Opus 68, in F, written immediately 
after the Eighth. Published by Jurgenson in 1913. 

Tenth Sonata, Opus 70, in C, written in Moscow 
immediately after the Ninth. Published in Moscow in 



■^ttb li ehe d -bjr Ju r genson, M o ac e w) — ■ 

1. Waltz in F minor. 

2. (i) Etude ; (ii) Prelude ; (iii) Impromptu k la 


3. Ten Mazurkas (2 Books). 

W i» H ' »r' aB' SiUDENT Period 
(B «'bMg h ® d:''%y ■iBi e iH'i e^) 


4. Allegro appassionato. 1894. 

5. Nocturnes: (i) F sharp minor ; (ii) A major. 

6. Sonata No. i, F minor. 

7. (i) Impromptu h. la Mazur, G sharp minor ; (ii) F 

sharp minor. 

8. Twelve Etudes. 

9. Prelude and Nocturne (for the left hand only). 
10. Two Impromptus. 



ftaB tJ J cR ie p - (1893 TO 1897) 

11. TwentyffoTlr Preludes. 

12. Two Impromptus. 
13/^ Six Preludes. 

14. Two Impromptus. 

15. Five Preludes. 

16. Five Preludes. 

17. Seven Preludes. 

18. Allegro de Concert, B flat minor. 

19. Sonata-Fantasia No. 2, in G sharp minor. 

20. Pianoforte Concerto in F sharp. 

21. Polonaise in B flat minor. 

22. Four Preludes. 

23. Sonata No. 3, in F sharp minor. 

24. Reverie for Orchestra. 

25. Nine Mazurkas. 
26.. First Symphony. 

TuTORiAE Period 

(MescQMu£^is 6*viat » nmH 1897 to 1903) 

27. Two Preludes : (i) G minor ; (ii) G major. 

28. Fantasia in B minor. 

29. Second Ssrmphony in C minor. 

(All published by Belaieff) 

30. Sonata No. 4, in F sharp major. 

31. Four Preludes. 

32. Two Poems. 



33. Four Prehides. 

34. Poeme Tragique. 

35. Three Preludes. 

36. Poeme Satanique. 

37. Four Preludes. 

38. Valse in A flat major. 

39. Fovir Preludes. 

40. Two Mazurkas. 

41. Poem, D flat major. 

42. Eight Etudes. 

43. Symphony No. 3 in C {The Divine Poem). 

44. Two Poems. 

45. Three Pieces. 

46. Scherzo. 

47. Quasi Valse. 

48. Four Preludes. 

49. Three Pieces : (i) Etude ; (ii) Prelude ; (iii) Reverie. 

50. Missing. 

51. Fom- Pieces. 

52. Three Pieces. 

ViktfwsrPtrBriSHED by the "RUsSian"" Musical 
PtJBtJSHHtG Society 

53. Sonata No. 5. - C v:? 

54. Le Po^me de I'Extase. 

55. Missing. 

56. Foiu: Morceaux : (i) Prelude ; (ii) Ironies ; 

(iii) Nuances ; (iv) Etude. 

57. Two Pieces : (i) D6sir ; (ii) Caresse Dansee. 



58. Feuillet d' Album (New Russian Album, Vol. I). 

59. Two Morceaux : (i) Po^me ; (ii) Prelude. 

60. Prometheus. 

61. Podme Nocturne. 

62. Sonata No. 6. 

63. Two Poems : (i) Masque ; (ii) Etranget^. 

Final Works ¥ um i mimhk m wM i:lim^m a8» r M@ se@w 


"64. Sonata No. 7. 

63. Trois Etudes. 

66. Sonata No. 8. 

67. Deux Preludes. 

68. Sonata No. 9. 

69. Deux PoSmes. 

70. Sonata No. 10. 

71. Detix Podmes. 

72. Vers la Flamme. Poeme. 

73. Deux Danses : (i) Guirandes ; (ii) Flammes Sombres. 

74. Cinq Preludes. 



Of. I. Waltz in F minor. 

A work of his studentship period. Well finished 
but not characteristic, except for bars 26 and 58, 
where he shows a liking for striking harmonic clashes. 

Op. 2. No. I. Etude C sharp minor. 

Also a work pf the student period. Very Chopin- 

Op. 2. No. 2. Prelude B major. 
A sweet little miniature^ 

Op. 2. No. 3. Impromptu d, la Mazur. 

^Chopinesque ; note the harmonic clashes at bars 
25, 45, etc. 

Op. 3. Ten Mazurkas {in 2 Books). 

Ten pleasing dance pieces of no great individuahty, 
sometimes peculiarly Chopin-like, occasionally Schu- 
mannesque, and at times rather commonplace. 

Op. 4. Allegro appassionata. 

A good concert piece with evidences of Liszt's 
influence ; it was originally conceived as part of a 



Op. 5. Two Nocturnes. No. i, F sharp minor. No. z, 
A major. 

Two charming piefies rather Chopin-hke, but con- 
taining many interesting touches. Notice the original 
harmony at bar 56 in No. i, and bar 25 in No. 2. 

Op. 6. Sonata No. 1, F minor. 

A brilliant Allegro, an expressive Andante, and an 
effective Presto broken into by a Funeral March and 
an Angelic Hymn. The gloom at the end is thrust 
aside impatiently by the determined motive notes, 
which Scriabin frequently uses in the same way as 
Beethoven with his " Knocks of Fate." 

Op. 7. Two Impromptus d, la Mazur. No. i, G sharp 
minor. No. 2, F sharp minor. 

The first of these shows little advance on any of the 
preceding works, but the second is much more character- 
istic both in the harmonic and the rh5rthmic treatment, 
sets ai four notes in the bass being crossed by sextolets 
in the treble. 

Op. 8. Twelve Etudes. 

An exceedingly fine set of mood pictures, making 
considerable technical requirements. The F sharp 
minor Capriccio was a great favourite with the com- 
poser, as was likewise the AUa ballata in C sharp minor, 
and the pathetic D sharp minor. No. 12, with its fine 
rich chords. No. 10 m major thirds is significant of 
the composer's restless searching into harmonic feeling. 

Op. 9. Prelude and Nocturne {for the left hand only). 
Two exceedingly fine pieces which many players 
will be quite wilSng to play with both hands in order 
to secure the full musical charm from them. 

Op. 10, Two Impromptus. No. i, in F sharp minor. 
No. 2, in A minor. 

The first contains a beautiful hymn-like melody for 
the second subject. The second is not very character- 


Op. II. Twenty-four Preludes. 

These Preludes are much shorter than the Etudes, 
Op. 8. They are ar/anged so as to pass through a 
circle of 24 keys, from C major, through the sharp 
keys and back again through the flats. The minor 
coupled . up to the major is always the one related 
by key-signature. Many of these little miniatures are 
of great value to the pianist. They were written at 
widely difierent times. 

Op. 12. Two iMpromptus. 

The first piece is rather of the Etude order, a very 
melodious Presto, and in Scriabin's favourite key, 
F sharp major. The Second Impromptu is very poetic, 
and the Coda points to the immense sonority of the 
Fantasia, Op. 28, and the later Sonatas. 

Op. 13. Six Preludes. 

The first of these is a remarkable piece which has 
the calm religious feeling of Bach. It might well have 
been inspired by some old Church chant. No. 3 is a 
delightful miniature, whilst No. 6 is merely Schumann- 

Op. 14. Two Impromptus. ' 

Two graceful sensitive pieces, the last containing 
another of Scriabin's famous h3min-like melodies. 

Op. 15. Five Preludes. 

The first is rhythmical, the second and third demand 
great stretching powers for both hands. Most of the 
work in No. 4 goes to the left hand. The fifth is not 
very characteristic. ~" 

Op. 16. Five Preludes. 

No. I is of great beauty, but the extended arpeggios 
of the left hand require very delicate handling. No. 2 
is massive in its harmony. No. 3 is a moonUght scene, 
whilst the fourth piece is almost unique in its simplicity 
and its use of the three-bar theme. No. 5 has much 
charm. This is a very attractive set. 


Op. 17. S^en Preludes. 

The technique is much further advanced in this set, 
both from the player's and the composer's point of 

Op. 18. Concert Allegro in B flat minor. 

A fine concert piece which demands wrists of steel 
for its performance. A very beautiful second subject. 

Op. 19. Sonata-Fantasia No. 2, in G sharp minor. 

A very poetical and expressive Andante with a 
turbulent Presto which contains, however, a singing 
subject of great beauty. 

Op. 21. Polonaise in B flat minor. 

The only example of Scriabin in this form. Not a 
very attractive piece. 

Op. 22. Four Preludes. 

The first is very beautiful and quite naturally ends 
with a half-cadence. The second and the fourth are 
of little value, and contain many misprints. The 
Allegretto, No. 3, is very charming. 

Op. 23. Sonata No. 3, in F sharp minor. 

The culminating point of the composer's first period. 
It has a strong psychological programme. 

Op. 25. Nine Mazurkas. 

Very interesting specimens of the dauce element in 
Scriabin, the spirit of which he derived from Chopin. 
The last is particularly characteristic. 

Op. 27. Two Preludes. 

No. I is very poignant in its grief-laden phrases. It 
is given in toto by Corder in his Musical Composition 
(Curwen), as a striking instance of Scriabin 's abundant 
and original use of the " French sixth " chord, and his 
curious round-about resolutions of passing-notes. 
Corder says the laying out of this piece is wellnigh 
perfection. The second. Andante, has a deep poetic 
charm, and is very daring in harmony. 


Op. 28. Fantasia in B minor. 

One of Scriabin's finest pianoforte pieces, full of 
wonderful themes, strong in development, and brilliant 
in texture. 

Op. 30. Sonata No. 4, in F sharp major. 

A direct forerunner of the Poeni 0/ Ecstasy. Lead- 
ing themes are used to represent Aspiration and 
Languor. The characteristic chord of the Poem of 
Ecstasy is also found in, this Sonata. The orgiastic 
coda, which is a feature of all his later works, is already 
present here. 

Op. 31. Four Preludes. 

The first is a charming Andante with a cross-rh3rthm 
arpeggio in the bass. Although marked Andante it is 
metronomed at 50 to the crotchet. Most of Scriabin's 
Andantes are Lentos. The piece is a curiosity inasmuch 
as it begins in D flat and ends in C major. The aug- 
mented eleventh is already in use (bar 27). There is a 
very Chopin-like touch at the cadence. The Second 
Prelude, marked Con stravagante, is in what Beetiioven 
would have called his " unbuttoned " mood ; it is 
fierce and aggressive. The Third Prelude is more -oi 
the nature of a short Etude. It is a study in quin- 
toplets. This superb set concludes with one to those 
perfect little harmonic miniatures which only Scriabin 

Op. 32. Two Poems. 

A pleasing piece in Binary form. The first subject 
is Chopin-like, the second one, marked Inaferando, 
more characteristic. Both subjects in their turn are 
considerably elaborated. The Second Poem is full of 
rich chords. 

Op. 33. Four Preludes. 

A very attractive set ; the first very serene ; the 
second meditative, marked Vagamente ; the third, 
stormy ; and the fourth. Etude-like. 


Op. 34. Tragic Poem. 

Full of massive harmony, it owes much to Liszt. 
The sharpened fifths in the chords of the ninth should 
be noticed. 

Op. 35. Three Preludes. 

This set has been weakly described as Chopin, 
Wagner, and Schumann. Appropriate as the first 
may be, the second contains too much characteristic 
feding to be thus lightly passed over. 

Op. 36. Potme Satanique. 

In this piece, Scriabin is supposed to hint atihe evil 
forces which oppose the soul in its evolution to the fulfil- 
ment of its highest aspiration. The themes show some 
relation to those of the Poem of Ecstasy. In this 
piece, the harmony has been carried yet another 
stage further. 

Op. 37. Four Preludes^ 

The first two are Chopin-like in character, whilst 
the last two are Scriabin himself, one in his con- 
templative mood, a slow Andante ; the other is an 
angry outburst. There is an highly original chord in 
the penultimate bar. 

Op. 38. Valse in A flat major. 

This piece was at one time much favoured by the 
composer. It is of the salon order, the right hand 
weaving all sorts of rhythmic patterns over a regular 
left-hand beat. The piece is of considerable length; 
it has a presto coda and pianissimo ending. 

Op. 39. Four Preludes. 

No. I is a sound and ^leasxag Allegro ; No. 2 owes 
something to Wagner, but more to Scriabin himself. 
No. 3 in its Langmdo, and No. 4 with its strong chords, 
are entirely Scriabinic. 


Op. 40. Two Mazurkas. 

No. I is one of the most charming dance pieces of 

. Scriabin. It has a strong relationship to the Caresse 

Dansee, Op. 57. There is a striking shifting of the 

tonality at the end. The melody in No. 2 is thrown 

into the tenor register and requires very deft handling. 

Op. 41. Poeme, D flat major. 

A very beautiful melody with an intricate accom- 
paniment figure. 

Op. 42. Eight Etudes. 

A fine set of rhythmical studies : — the first, nine 
notes against five ; the second, three against five ; 
the third, running in Prestissimo triplets ; the fourth 
and fifth are more of the Prelude order; whilst the 
sixth returns to combined rhythms (five against 
three), with a superimposed melody ; very difficult ; 
the seventh, three against four (much easier) ; the 
final one returning to five against three. This last, 
with its fine interlude of solid harmony, is perhaps 
the most populai; one in the set. 

Op. 44. Two Poems. 

An attractive melody over a gently undulating 
accompaniment to which the second number forms an 
admirable contrast. 

Op. 45. Three Pieces. 

A meditative Album-leaf, a fantastic Poem of con- 
siderable interest in relation to Scriabin's later harmony 
and a very effective Prelude. This is one of the most 
popular sets of pieces. 

Op. 46. Scherzo. 

A fine harmonic piece in 6-8 time of the Presto order. 

Op. 47. Quasi Valse. 

Another of Scriabin's interesting excursions into the 
dance form with modern harmony. The progression 
of the diminished fifth in the bass should be noticed. 


Op. 48. Four Preludes. 

An exceedingly characteristic set. The first is a 
fiery impetuous Allegro ; the second, a poetic medita- 
tion of great delicacy ; the third, an agitated Capriccioso 
spread out arpeggio-wise ; the fourth, a festive and 
radiant March, despite the triple time. 

Op. 49. Three Pieces. 

An Etude like an ^olian harp, a brusque and angry 
Prelude with fierce drum beats in the bass, a Reverie 
of exquisite fineness make a charming set. 

Op.^50. Missing. 

Op. 51. Four Pieces. 

Fragiliti is a tenor melody accompanied by limpid 
treble chords with triplet arpeggios in the bass — an 
entirely characteristic piece. So too is the lugubrious 
prelude in A minor and the expressive " poem of wings." 
The languid dance at the end is likewise characteristic. 
All four are quite short. 

Op. 32. Three Pieces. 

A Poem of great charm based on a new harmony, an 
Enigma based on the winged soaring figures, and a 
Languid Poem — all three characteristic, and accept- 

Op. 53. Fifth Sonata. 

A one-movement ■ piece based on the following 
motto : 

I call you to life, O mysterious forces 
Submerged in depths obscure 
Of the Creator-Spirit, timid embryons of life. 
To you I now bring courage. 

{Poem of Ecstasy.) 

Op. 56. Four Pieces. 

An aggressive Prelude, almost savage in its power ; 
an ironic Scherzo with some dehghtfully tender 
harmonies in the contrasted phrases ; a soft velvety 
movement entitled Nuances, and an airy Etude which 
might well be called a Dance of Sprites. The first, third, 
and fourth are quite short, the second rather longer. 



Op. 57. Two Pieces. I 

The first (a page long), entitled Disir, contains some 
wonderfully expressive harmony. The second, a 
charming Caresse Dans6e, is one of his most character- 
istic pieces of the dance order. 

Op. 58. Album-leaf. 

This is issued only in the Russian Composers' Album 
by the Russian Musical Publishing Society. It is a slow 
meditation of exceedingly delicate harmonic texture. 
The key-signature is now abandoned on account of 
the new harmony. 

Op. 59. Two Pieces. 

Two pieces, both in the composer's advanced style. 
The Poem^ a graceful and sweet Allegretto, meditative 
in mood ; the Prelude, one of Scriabin's most aggressive 
and defiant outbreaks. 

Op. 60. Prometheus. 

The pianoforte part to this orchestral poem is 
published separately, but gives no indication of the 
orchestral parts. A proper idea of this work can only 
be obtained on the keyboard by the arrangement for 
two pianos (four hands). 

Op. 61. Poem-Nocturne. 

One of his most important pieces. The technique is 
' already in advance of his Prometheus, and probably 
points forward to the style projected in the Mystery. 
There are many indications that the composer had 
ideas in his mind which are not definitely conveyed 
by the music. 

Op, 62. Sixth Sonata. 

The key-signature has been abandoned since Op. 58. 
Although composed as " absolute " music there are 
many indications such as " the dream takes shape," 
etc., which point to a psychological basis for this 
Sonata, which is flUed with tiie toll^g of bells and ends 
in the deepest gloom. 


Op. 63. Two Poems. 

The first Masque is full of quaint harmonic patterns, 
the second EtrangeU graceful and sweet and very- 
modern in feeling. The English pianist, Mr. Leonard 
Berwick, has a particular liking for these two pieces. 

Op. 64. .Seventh Sonata. 

The mystic element in Scriabin's music here reaches 
its apogee. This Sonata was called by its composer 
a White Mass, as opposed to the Ninth Sonata, 
which he styled a Black Mass. It has many strong 
points much in common with Prometheus, and points 
forward at the same time to a proposed Mystery. 
Some huge spiritual conflict is being waged in this 

Op. 65. Trois Etudes. 

These Three Studies present difficulties to the player, 
notably the first one, in which the right hand fantasti- 
cally runs along in ninths throughout. In the second 
Allegretto the melody is doubly lined-out in sevenths. 
The third, which runs along in fifths, is much more 
playable and taking, having a striking contrasted 
theme of much power. 

op. 66. Eighth Sonata. 

Like all the other Sonatas of the third period this 
composition, the longest of all Scriabin's works, is 
founded on one of the so-called mystic chords. The 
harmony is very remaxkable ; there are two long 
development sections, and we have the usual ecstatic 
vertiginous coda in dance rhythm. 

Op. 67. Two Preludes. 

We here reach a stagfe in Scriabin's harmonic 
development which may be called the fourth period, 
a style which points forward to his proposed Mystery 
rather than backward to his Prometheus. No piece is 
more typical of this nejy. phase than this vague, mys- 
terious and harrowing first Prelude, the Sorrow-laden 
strains of which form such a striking contrast to the 
second piece, a Presto, full of strange quivering hght. 


Op. 68. Ninth Sonata. 

One of Scriabin's most pessimistic works. The 
element of the diaboUcal enters largely into it, and it 
was called by the composer a " Black Mass." I append 
a verse of Hardy's as a description of this gloomy piece. 
" J^ast as first the question rings 
Of the Will's long travailings ; 
Why the All-mover, 
Why the All-prover 
Ever urges on and measures out the droning time of Things." 

Op. 69. Two Poems. 

The first is a fragile and tender meditation, Alle- 
~gretto in C, based on the C chord as Scriabin imagines 
it. The second a dreamy Andante of great sweetness. 

Op. 70. Tenth Sonata. ^ 

One of Scriabin's most optimistic works, full of 
radiant light and colour. One might very suitably 
quote another verse from Hardy's Dynasts : 
" But a stirring thnlls the air 
Like to sounds of joyance there 
Thait the rages 
Of the ages 
Shall be cancelled, and deliverance offered from the darts 

that were. 
Consciousness the Will informing, till It fashion all thinsrs 
fair ! " 

The characteristic harmony tends to a process of 
simplification, and the usual method of classical 
development is reversed inasmuch as the themes, 
instead of expanding, become more and more con- 
centrated and abbreviated. 

Op. 71. Two Poems. 

The first, a fantastic piece, contains many real 
harmonic derivatives. There are some very novel 
chords containing strident semitonic clashes. The 
tolling of bells relates it closely to the Eighth and 
Ninth Sonatas. Some annotators have distinguished 
two distinct phases in this direction, that of harmony 
proper, and that of timbre or clang, the latter playing 
a great part in Scriabin's last period. 


Op. 72. Towards the Flame. 

This poem is one of the most important of all 
Scriabin's pieces ; advanced in harmony, it is thoroughly 
radiant and luminous. In colour and mood alike, as well 
as in its triumphant ending it is closely allied to 

op. 73. Two Dances. 

In these two dances. Garlands and Dark Flames, 
we have strong mystic elements which render the 
meaning very obscure. 

Op. 74. Five Preludes. 

This final set of Scriabin's pieces is very striking. 
The harmcJny is such that some of his most enthusiastic 
followers have refused to go thus far with him. The 
inood of the first is sad, even heart-rending. No. 2, 
contemplative ; No. 3, tragic ; No. 4, vague, indefinite, 
contemplative, but not pleasing ; whilst the final one 
is proud and warlike, with a remarkable ending. 




Arensky . 


Belaieff . 

Borodin . 









Pavlova . 

Ivanoff . 



Liadoff . 

Medtner . 



Ak-ee-main-koh . 





Bort-nee-an-skee . 











Kooz-say-vit-skee . 

. Maid-t-ner. 
. Mooz-sorg-skee. 




Obmana . 

. Ohb-mah-nah. 

Pushkin . 

. Poosh-kin. 

Rachmaninoff . 

. Rach-mah-ne-noff. 

Rebikoff . 

. Raib-ee-koff. 


. Reem-skee-Kor-sak-off. 

Safonoff . 

. Saf-oh-noff. 

Scriabin . 

, Scree-ab-in. 


. Strah-veen-skee. 

Taneieff . 

. Tahn-nay-ee-eff (very quick 

and smooth). 

Tchaikovsky . 

. Tchah-ee-kov-skee. 


. Zee-ek-kay. 

Zviereff . 

. Tsvee-air-eff. 


-Acoustics, 216, 242 
Actors in Russia, 24 
Esthetics, 3, 216 
Algebraical symbols in counter- 
point, 31 
Allegory, 229 
Allen, G. B., 223 
AnglO'Russian entente, 37 
Aniouta (Fomin's), g 
Areo (Italy), 20 
Arensky, 13, 33 
Asanchevsky, 13 
Askold (Vertovsky's), 9 
Audion Amplifier, 221 

Baba-Yaga, 6, 12 

Bach, 10, 19, 22, 57, 102, 103, 

116, 238 
Balalaika, 6 

Balfour, Arthur J., 3, z6i, 267 
Bantock, 112, t86 
Beecham's Russian Opera 

season, 249 
Beethoven, 10, 19, 39, 57, 

91, 100, 102, 103, 193, 237, 

BelaiefE, 34, 39, 203 
Bell, 16, 217, 245 
Bellini, 23 
Berlioz, g, 231, 240 
Betoly, 26 
Bizet, 23 
Borodin, 23, 231 
Borovsky, 77 
Berwick, Ceonaxd, 213 
Brahms, 36, 39, 92, 116 

Branly, 219 
Brussels, 39, 193, 241 
Bruce, Finetta, 228 
Bruckner, 241 
Bury, Bishop, 251 
Busoni, 215, 267 

Cadets' School, 27, 30 

Castel, 220 

Caucasus, 6 

Caves, 9 

Chamber Music, 32 

JShopin, II, 35, 80, 92, 115, 

116, 123, 124, 251 
Charkofi, 47, 58 ' 
Chatterij, 241 
Church Scales, 261 
Clavier d lumiire, 195 
Clemen ti, 10 

Coleridge-Taylor, 105, 236, 237 
Colour-music, 223 
Colour-organ, 195, 224 
Colour of keys, 222 
Colour and Sound,, 216 
Colour, Art of Mobile, 223 
Commerce, 13, 29 
Congress, 3 

Consular duties, 20, 26 
Corti's Organ, 2 
Cosmos, 207 
Counterpoint, 30 
Countess Mercy Argenteau, 39 
Criticism, Unfair, 53 
Cui, 8, 23, 38, 231 
Czarina Anne, 9 
Czarina Ehzabeth, 9 




d'Albe. 218 

Dargomijsky, 12 

DavidoS, 33 

Da-vm of Consciousness theme, 


Day, 102 

Debussy, 12, 105, igi (f.) 

De Forest, 221 

Delius, 241 

Delville, 51 

d'Ergo, 53 

Devitchy Monastery, 75 

DiageliefE's orchestra, 49 

Donizetti, 23 

Double-hning, 213 

Dragoman, 20 

Dvorak, 19, 171, 241 

East, 240 

Eastern tongues, 15 
Edison, 220 I 
Elgar, 105, 175, 181, 241 
English taste, 19, 23, 249 
Engraving in Russia, 274 
Erzerouiff, 20, 26 
European music, 9 * 
Evening pieces, 233 
Exotic influences, 7, 9 

Fantasia, 36 

Fauvists, 51 

Strauss' Festival Prelude, 246 

Fidelia, Beethoven's, to 

Field, John, 10, 36, 232, 233 

Florentine Futurists, 31, 259, 

Folk-music, 6, 13, 119, 268 
Fomin, 9 
FreischuU, 10 
French influence, 232 
Fugue, 36 
Further Studies in Harmony, 


Gostiny Z>vor, 9, 16 
Geometrical patterns, I 

German colonies, 19 

Gevaert, 53 

Gilson, 52, 241 

Glidre, 13 

Glinka, 8, 9, 12, 23 

Glinka prize, 55 

Goldenweiser, 77 

Gounod, 23 

Graham, Stephen, 251, 258, 266 

Greek Christians, 8 

Grfitry, 220, 223 

Gunst, Eugen, 57, 140, 203, 

Gussiee, 6 

Hadow, 260 

Handel, 10, 19, 102, 250 

Harmonics, 223 

Harmony, 216 

Hertz, 219 

Hiles, Dr. Henry, 102 

Home-life in Russia, 26 

Hughes, D. E., 217, 223 

Igonmnoff, 77 
Ilyinka^ ig 
Iljdnsky, 13 
Imagination, 26 
Imperial Opera House, 23 
I.M.S., 217 
Instrumentation, 240 
Intelligentsia, 7, 39, 47 
Ireland, John, 272 
Is music played out ? 212 
Ivanoff, painter, 259 

Jameson, D. D., 223 
Josquin des Pres, 31 
Junker's School, 28 
Jurgenson, 35 
Jurisprudence, 18, 33 

Kalinikoff, 13 
Karg-Elert, 112 



Karma, 194, 257 

Kaskir, 60 

Khatchin, g 

Kinetophone, 220 

Kirghiz wastes, 6 

Kitai Gorod, 16 

Kommisarzhevskaia, 66, 359, 

Koreschenko, 13 
Kosatchok, 12 
Kremlin, 16 
Kussevitzsky, 57, 59, 77, 203 

Lake Guarda, 20 

Languor, 208, 134, 135, 137, 

Leading Motives, 135 
Letchetizsky, 18, 33 
Libretto, 12 
Life^ for the Czar, 9 
Light and Sound, 4 
Liszt, 9, 10, 231 
Little Russia, 7 
Lodge, 219 

Macdonald, 223 
Macfarren, 102 
Maeterlinck, 52 
Mahler, 151, 241 
Mahrhofer, 53 
Marconi, 219 
Market-place, The, 9 
Mathematics, 31 
Matinsky, 9 
McDowell, 250 
Meditation, 233 
Medtner, 92 
Melomimigue, 268 
Menchaca, 272 
Mendelssohn, 19, 22, 123 
Michelangelo, 19 
Microcosm, 195 
Microphone, 217 
Middle Ages, 8, 16 
Military engineering, 38 
Miller, The, 9 

Mimique, 216 
Modem harmony, 112 
Modernism defined, 257 
Monteverde, 263, 265 
Monthly Musical Record, 204 
Morales, 31 
Moscow, 13, 37, 34 
Moscow Conservatoire of Music, 

13. 29. 33 
Moscow Opera House, 23 
Moujih, 7 
Mussorgsky, 5, 8, 13, 23, 231, 

Mozart, 19, 53 

Music itself as inspiration, 230 
Music and Colours, 233 
Musical Courier, 227 
Musical Times, 203, 212 

Nationalism in music, 13, 240 
Natural harmonic chord, 3, 

loi, 103, 115 
Nature as inspirer, 250-2 
New Art, 225 
Nocturne, 11, 36, 232 
Novels, 26 
Novgorod, 7, 33 

Obmana, 37 

Obrecht, 31 

Odessa, 38 

Opera, 216 

Opera House, Moscow, 24 

Optophone, 218 

Orchestral traditions, Brussels, 

Orchestration, 240, 188, 167 

et seq. 
Oriental subjects, 10 
Omstein, 160 

Painters, 216, 259 
Palestrina, 31, 102 
Paris, 39 
Pastimes in Russia, 23 



Pastoral Symphony, 250 
Pellias et Milisande, 12 
Petrograd, 10 
Petrograd Conservatoire of 

Music, 12, 18, 240 
Philosophy, 220, 253 
Piano spirit, 232 
Pianoforte Trio by Taneieff, 55 
Picture pieces, 236 
Plagal Cadence, 160 
Podrovsky, 27 
Poem of Ecstasy, 55, 187 
Prometheus, 53, 193 
Poems, 233 
Poisies intimes, 1 1 
Pokrovsky barracks, 17 
Popofi, 219 
Power of music, 32 
Preludes, 232 
Prologues, j88 
Prout, 102 
Purcell, 102, 250 
Pushkin, 12 

Rachmaninoff, 13, 55, 77, iii, 

Rameau, 102, 220, 222 
Ravell, 105, 112 
Raymond, Professor, 219 
Realists, 51 
R6bikoff, 7, 216 
Reger, 112 
Reis, 217 

Religion and Art, 259, 266 
Rienzi, 10 

Rimington, 195, 223, 225 
Rimsky-Korsakoflf, 12, 231, 

239, 240 
Romanticists, 9, 231 
Rossini, 23 

Rousseau's Music School, 33 
Rubens, 19 
Ruskin, 253 

Russian Composers, 23 
Russian Imperial Musical 

Society, 41, 54 
Russian Word, 67, 68 
Russkoye Slovo, 54, 67, 68 

Sabaneiefi, 36, 57, 203 
Safonofi, 30, 32, 203, 207 
Saratoff, 18 

Scale of colours, 223, 228 
School work in Russia, 36 
Schumann, 128, 231 
Science and music, 2 
Scott, CyrU, X05, 112, 135 

Absolute music, 48 ^ • 
Acute ear, 22 
Acoustics, 102 
Advanced views, 206 
JEsthetics, 47, 79, 201 
Amsterdam, 63 
Amusements, 40 
Andante, indication, 123, 

129, 174 
Appoggiaturas, 99, 106 
Arensky's class, 33, 41 
Army Cadet Corp, 28 
Aunt Luboff,"i8, 22, 27 
Bass progressions, iii, 112 
Beattenberg, 46, 47, 50, 59, 

145. 154 
Bechstein Hall, London 

Recitals, 64 et seq. 
Bells and bell tones, 16, 151, 

161, 195, 213 
Boil on lip, 73 
Briantchaninoff, 71 
Brussels, 47, 52, 232 
Cadet School, 27, 30 
Character, personal, 78 
Charkoif. 73 
Chords, 227 

Chromatic colouring, 229 
Clarinet, Fondness for, 173 
Classical in form, 196 
Codas, 149, 154, 161, 191, 

235. 237 
Collar-bone, Broken, 29 
Colour-organ, 195 
Colour Symphony, 226 
Coloured rays, use of, 171, 

Concord, His, 114 



ScRiABiN (contd.) — 
Construction, 52 
Contemplation, habit, 48 
Creative power, 137 
Crimea, 90 
Dedications, 79 
Delville, 52, 193 
Design, 51, 80, 235 
Development, 38 
Devotion to Art, 79 
Diatonic Formula, 177 
Divine theme, 182 
Dominant pedals, 177 
Dominajit 9th, 151 
Double lining, 2x3 
Dramatic turn, 25 
Dual Symphony, 226 
Early education, 225 
Early pieces, 82 
Early orchestral works, 45 
Ego theme, 146, 185, i8g, 

235. 237 
Eleventh raised, 272 
England, 73, 166 
English people, 73 
European tour, 39 
European War, 69 
Extremes of temperament, 42 
Fate notes, 124, 125 
Fate theme, 122 
Field's influence, 115 
Final chords, 114 
Final pieces, 214 
First period, 131 
First piano lessons, 29 
First piece, 210 
French Sixth, 93, 97 
Form, 52, 231 
Friends, 45, 251 
Friendship with Belaiefi, 34 
Friendship with Kussevitz- 

sky, 57 
Friendship with Safonofi, 45 
Fugato entries, 131 
Funeral, 75 
Funeral March in Sonata, 

Future possibilities, 270 

SpRiABiN (contd.) — 
Genealogy, 19 
Geneva, 49 * 

Genoa, 49, 90 
Ground chords, 145 
Harmonic evolution, 102, 

115, 232 
Hearing faculty, 264 
Hoffmann's friendship, 251 
Holland, 60 

Hymn-like melodies, gi, 124 
Hymn to Art, 80, 92 
Inspiration, 245 
Inventive turn of mind, 23 
Inversion of chords, 104 
• I.M.S., 217 
Ironic moods, 96, 97, 211 
■Kussevitzsky, 57, 39, 77, 

Keys, 212. 213 
Languor, 98, 134, 133, 137, 

155, 181, 208, 211 
L'Art Moderne, 52 
Lausanne, 50, 137 
Leading Motives, 179 
Left-hand parts, 87 
Leonine mood, 94, .211 
Letter to Briantchaninoff, 71 
Light and Shade, 143 
Light and Sound, 142, 232, 

Line in Music, 235 
Liszt's influence, 117, 233 
London, 60, 71, 203 
Lonely meditations, 78 
Love of poetry, 233 
Marriage, 43 
Mark Estate, 59 
Meditative habit, 40, 121, 

Memorial Concerts, 76 
Mengelburg, 60, 63 
Metamorphosis of themes, 

Miniatures, 234 
Misprints, 274 
Modem Harmony, 96, loi, 

142, 145. 233, 258 



ScRiABiN (contd.) — 
Modernist, 262 
Mohthly Musical Record, 204 
Moscow, 59, 67, 70 
Moscow public, 47, 55 
Mouzika Journal, 71 
Music and Colour, 216 
Music at Moscow Conserva- 
toire, 38 
Musical memory, 22 
Mystery, 74, 89, 162, 187, 

Mystic chord, 101, 106, 235, 

Mysticism and Colour, 228 
National Traits, 5, 7, 8, 13 
Nature as inspirer, 40, 251 
Nature's chord, loi 
New York performances, 227 
Nikisch, 46 
Nocturnes, 207 
Novoye Zveno, 71 
Nuances, 211 
Obrazchovo-Karpovo, 60 
Obscurity of some works, 

Opera, no liking for, 78 
Orchestral works, 164, 275 
Orchestration, 239, 241 
Organ used, 213 
Orlofi, Nicolas, 77 
Parentage, 17 
Paris, 49 
Pastels, 100, 207 
Pastoral vein, 48, 174 
Pedalisation, 42, 115, 126 
Periods, Division into, 97, 


Personality, 198 
Petrograd, 73 
Philosophy, 100 
Pianistic, 143 
Pessimism, 121 
Pianoforte studies, 32 
Pianoforte teaching, 42 
Piano plajfing, 66 
Piano Recitals, 64, 69 
Podolsky, 69 

ScRiABiN (contd.) — 
Poems, 98, 99, 112 
Preludes, 95, 98, no, 113 
Programme music, 48, 207 
Prologues, 153, 154, 158, 

160, 171, 237 
Queen's Hall, London, 60, 

Question in music, 215 
Quintuples, 96 
Rage in music, 94, 211 
Rimington's keyboard used, 

Safonofi, 42, 45, 207 
Satire, 46, 97, 104, 211 
Scale, 105, 215 
Schumann's influence, 128 
Science, 103, 216 
Singing passages in bass, 172 
Single-mindedness, 47 
Sketches, 207 

Soaring themes, 32, 119, 211 
Sonata form proper, 237 
Sonatas, 52, ir6, 209, 271 
Soul themes, 146, 160, 183, 

189, 235. 237 
Sources of inspiration, 249 
Striving themes, 134, 135 
Studies, 207 
Style, 231 
Symphonies, 164 
Tastiera per Luce, 195 
Terry, R. R. On Scriabin, 

85, 87, 132, 143, 254 
Theosophy, 47, 135, 167, 

232, 237, 254, 255 
Timbre distinct from har- 
mony, 229 
Tonality, 212 
Transition period, 97, 206 
Tutorial work at Moscow, 

43. 46 
View of Art, 251, 258 
Violent moods, 94, 211 
Vocal writing, 239 
Volga tour, 73 
Voluptuous mood, 183 
Wagner, 162, 176, 182 



ScRiABiN {contd.) — 
War, thoughts on, 71 
Whole-tone chords, 102 
Will theme, 190, 201 
Wood, Henry J., 60 


Allegro Appassionata, 83 
Complete works. List of, 280 
Concerto, Piano, 91 
Divine Poem, 69, 178 
Etraugeti, 64, 107, 212 
Etudes, 112, 207, 211 
Fantasia in B, Opus 28, 92 
Fantasy Sonata, 90, 122 
Festival piece in C, 99 
Feuillet d'album, 99, 107, 

Five Preludes, Opus 74, 213 
Guirlandes, 213 
Masque, 65, 212 
Mystery, 69, 74, 162, 187, 

Poem, Opus 52, 112 
Poem in D flat. Opus 41, 98 
Poem of Ecstasy, 6, 187, 

Poem of Fire. See Prome- 
Poime-Nocturne, Opus 61, 

Poime Satanique, 46, 104 
Prometheus, 51, 62. 68, 72, 

107, 141, 157, 164, 165, 

173, 202, 226 
' Reverie for Orchestra, 39, 99 
Sonatas, No. i — 34, 40, 83, 

— No. 3 — 41, 43, 66, 83, 90, 

— No. 3 — 41, 65, 126 

— No. 4—46, 94, 133 

— No. 5 — 137, 187, 206, 233 

— No. 6 — 59, 108, 144 

— N0.-7 — 59, 108, 149 

— No, 8 — 109, 152 

— No. 9 — 154 

— No. 10 — 77, 157 

Scriabin's Compositions 
{contd.) — 
Symphonies, No. I — ^41, 164, 

— No. 2 — 32, 40, 48, 172 

— No. 3 (Divine Poem) — ^32, 
46, 48, 54, 94, 164, 178 

Tone-Poem, Ecstasy, 187 
Tone-Poem, Prometheus, 193 
Tragic Poem, 46, 94 
Vers la Flamme, 207, 209 

Siloti, 13 

Sky-pictures, 236 

Smetana, 241 

Smolensky terminus, Moscow, 

Sociology in Music, 266 
SokolofE, 13 
Soliloquies, 248 
Solo violin used, 188 
Sonatas, 116 et seq. / 
Sound and Light, i, 216, 223 
Sparrow Hills, 15, 75 
Spendiarofif, 13, 55, 56 
Stchetinin family, 18, 19 
Stevenson, R. L., 208 
Stravinsky, 7, 239 
Strauss, 105, 247 
Studies, 232 
Switzerland, 247 
Symphonic works, 164 et seq. 

Taneieff, 29, 31, 33, 53, 212, 

Tanioudia, g 
Tastiera per Luce, 193 
Telephone, 217 
Terms for musical styles, 264 
Terry, Dr. R. R., 85, 87, 132, 

143. 259 
Tertia-tonal scale, 267 
Theosophic t^ms, 252 ■ 
Three Palm Trees, 55 
Tinel, 241 
Titoff, 9 
Tovey, 241 



Tschaikovsky, 26, 29, 33, 35, 
57. 58, 130, 166, 169, 239, 

Tscherepnin, 239 

Unison Chants, 8 
Unnumbered compositions, 36 

Vaughan -Williams, 105, 250, 

Verhaeren, 52 ^ 
Vertovsky, 9 
Vibration, i" 
Vinci, 31 

Visit to England, 32 
Volga. 37, 352 
Vrubel, 259 

Wagner, 10, 23, 112, 245, 260 
Walford Davies, 102 
Wallace, William, 259, 270 
Weaving and Harmony, 273 
Wesley, S. S., 19 
Weber, 9, 10, 171 
Whole-tone scale, 264 
Willaert, 31 

Wood, Sir Henry J., 63-104 
Wormser, 216