Alexander Scriabin

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Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (Russian Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Скря́бин sometimes transliterated as "Aleksandr Skryabin") (1872-1915) is today remembered mostly for his voluminous output for the piano. Trained as a pianist under the severe eye of Nikolai Zverev, who also taught Sergei Rachmaninoff, Scriabin also attended the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied piano and composition, the latter primarily with Anton Arensky.

His musical style began in the early works showing an affinity with the piano works of Chopin, but he soon developed a very complex musical language based on complex chords. Scriabin was also influenced by Theosophy, a Russian mystical philosophy. Like the French composer Olivier Messiaen, Scriabin also claimed to suffer from synesthesia, a psychological condition where the brain links the perceptions of sight and sound. His music therefore preoccupies itself with unusual tone colors and mysterious textures - he even projected a major work entitled Mysterium, never realized, which would have employed all the senses, and was to take place at the foot of the Himalayas.

His important works include numerous short pieces for piano, ten piano sonatas, of which the fifth and ninth are most often played, and five symphonic works. One of them, entitled Prometheus: Poem of Fire, includes a part for "color organ," an instrument purely from Scriabin's imagination, which projects color on a screen instead of sound. Various attempts have been made to realize Scriabin's intentions since his death.

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