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Alexander Scriabin
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Alexander Scriabin

Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Скря́бин; sometimes transliterated as Skryabin) (January 6, 1872 - April 27, 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist.

Scriabin was born in Moscow. He studied the piano from an early age, taking lessons with Nikolay Zverev who was teaching Sergei Rachmaninov at the same time. He became a noted pianist. Scriabin also became interested in theosophy.

Many of Scriabin's works are written for the piano, the earliest pieces resemble Frederic Chopin and include music in many forms that Chopin himself employed, such as the etude, the prelude and the mazurka. Later works, however, are strikingly original, employing very unusual harmonies and textures. The development of Scriabin's voice can be followed in his ten piano sonatas: the earliest are in a fairly conventional late-Romantic idiom and show the influece of Chopin and Franz Liszt, but the later ones move into new territory, the last five being written with no key signature. Many passages in them can be said to be atonal. See: mystic chord.

Scriabin wrote only a small number of orchestral works, including a piano concerto (1896), The Poem of Ecstasy (1908) and Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (1910), which includes a part for a "clavier à lumières" - an implement played like a piano, but which flooded the concert hall with coloured light rather than sound. Few performances of the piece, including the premiere, have included this light element, although a performance in New York City in 1915 projected colours onto a screen.

The colors used for each pitch were actually derived from Scriabin's synaesthesia, a condition wherein one experiences stimulus in one sense in response to real stimulus in another sense. In Scriabin's case individual pitches and even chords produced a sensation of color or colors. This pioneering use of multimedia also was influenced by Scriabin's theosophical beliefs, specifically, he thought he could bring about the end and rebirth of the world through a grand performance including music, scent, dance, and light that would take place in the Himalayas.

A hypochondriac his entire life, Scriabin died in Moscow from septicemia.

He was related to Vyacheslav Molotov, the Russian politician and eponym of the Molotov cocktail. Molotov's original surname was Scriabin.

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