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Who Was Alexander Scriabin?

Alexander Scriabin is a musical hero. Scriabin, born on the Russian Christmas day of January 7, 1872, lived to be […]

Alexander Scriabin is a musical hero. Scriabin, born on the Russian Christmas day of January 7, 1872, lived to be only 43 years of age. Because Russia and the United States celebrate Christmas on different days, and Scriabin was reportedly born on Christmas, some incorrectly argue that he was born on December 25, 1871.

Scriabin was orphaned at the age of two and then raised by his grandmother and aunt. Hard times did not keep him down long, however, and he soon developed a passion for the piano. He did not begin to study the piano until he was 12 years of age, at which time he started down a path that would change the musical world.

Who Was Alexander Scriabin?

Scriabin’s Education

Georgy Conus was Scriabin’s first formal piano teacher. The next year, Scriabin studied at a sort of boarding-house piano school under Nikolai Zverev. There were other students there, and Zverev’s boarding house was where Scriabin met his lifelong musical associate and friend, Sergey Rachmaninoff.

At age 17, Scriabin attended the Moscow Conservatory. Scriabin’s style was not totally appreciated at the Conservatory. His friend Rachmaninoff graduated a year early, but when Scriabin requested the same, he was denied. Scriabin was so upset by this turn of events that he simply quit the school.

Scriabin’s Relationship with Theology and Music

Scriabin’s music is distinguished by an unusual development over the course of his lifetime. Scriabin’s music was different and ahead of its time from the very beginning, but as he grew older and was exposed to more ideas, his music blossomed into complex and untraditional new harmonies.

Scriabin was reported to have written in his journal that he was God. This belief permeated into his very creative musical style, bending tradition to serve what he was trying to express. Scriabin studied Helen Blavatsky’s Theosophy, embracing the ideas and concepts about origins, the universe, and the idea that everything is God. Scriabin also indulged in a fascination with Goethe and Nietzsche. These were unconventional ideas for Scriabin’s times, but he used his music to express his thoughts without words. Scriabin’s music was rich with broad leaps of full octave spreads, augmented and diminished fourths, and most of all, an attitude of divinity.

Scriabin’s American Tour Gone Bad

Scriabin was a touring concert pianist as well as one of the best composers ever to live. Trying to capitalize on this fame, he scheduled a tour of the U.S. and set out on a series of piano concerts. However, he was quickly halted over public disapproval of his lifestyle; Scriabin was traveling with his lover while still married to his wife, an arrangement that didn’t sit well with audiences.

Scriabin’s Untimely Death and Subsequent Legacy

Scriabin died very unexpectedly at the age of 43. He had a small infection on his lip beneath his bushy mustache, which was eventually diagnosed as septicemia.

After Scriabin’s death, his lifelong friend Rachmaninoff began, for the first time, to play music other than his own. Rachmaninoff embarked on a concert pianist tour of Russia, only playing pieces written by Scriabin.


Clayton Windermere writes on musical technology, music piracy, musical accessories (such as the kensington ipad bluetooth keyboard), musical education and other subjects as well.

Image credit goes to brammzilla.

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