Alexander Scriabin

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  • Topic: Harmony, Chord, Alexander Scriabin
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Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)

Scriabin was neither interested in folk music nor nationalism, rather he developed an individual idiom that drew both on Russian traditions and on the European heritage of the virtuoso pianist-composer. (He absorbed the chromaticism of Liszt and Wagner, and juxtapositions of texture, scale, and figuration from Debussy)

The whole of his work is evolutionary in character.
In short, his early works exhibit lyrical and strong tonal romanticism. In his early years, he was strongly influenced by Chopin.
He began to compose music such as etudes, preludes, nocturnes, and mazurkas in the manner of Chopin including nocturne-like accompaniment, embellished right-hand writing, and so on. Especially, Scriabin's prelude op.11 conforms to the same key scheme of Chopin's preludes op.28. ★ It cycles through all of the M and m keys. The odd numbered preludes are in Major key and each is followed by a prelude in relative minor key, then the paired preludes proceed through the circle of fifth. In his mid-to late- period, he gradually evolved individual complex harmonic languages, then eventually he moved into an atonal musical system influenced by mysticism.

The changes in his musical language can be traced in his ten piano sonatas, since they were written at various periods spread over the whole of his career. He composed the first four sonatas in the Romantic style, then he explored more complex, chromatic harmonies. The last five sonatas were actually written without a key signature, and can be said to be atonal works. The most conspicuous thing is an innovation of mystic chord. He used this mystic chord to express his feelings, and evolved the whole composition out of this one extended harmony. Especially the fifth sonata is considered as a landmark of modern composition in its atonality and mystic chord. It marks the end of his Romantic period and the beginning of his transition to an atonal style.

Many composers at...
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