The Galernaya arch sank into gloom,
In the Summer Garden a weathervane’s tune
Rang delicately, and a silver moon
Hung frozen over the Silver Age.
A. Akhmatova «A Poem Without A Hero»
Probably it was Anna Akhmatove who called that rather small piece of our history at the turn of XXth century “the Silver Age”, though a philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev and writers Nikolay Otsup (1894-1958) and Sergei Makovsky (1877-1962). In that period of time, amid global depression and the expectation of inavoidable disaster, Russia was passing through the incredible upsurge of intellectual and creative effort. This epoque gave birth to the whole genius galaxy: poets Valery Bryusov, Alexander Blok, Andrey Bely, Konstantin Balmont, Boris Pasternak, Vyacheslav Ivanov; philosophers Sergei Trubetskoy , Nikolai Berdyaev, Georgi Plekhanov; artists Maximilan Voloshin , Mikhail Vrubel, Nikolai Sapunov, Wassily Kandinsky; composers Sergei Rachmaninoff, Anatoly Lyadov, Vladimir Rebikov...
However the name of Alexander Scriabin shone the unimitable light in this galaxy. He was discussed by everyone, not only as a musician. His unique personality caused a lot of rumours. Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov, on of the most respected composers of the time, called him “a star of the first magnitude”.
On 2 March 1911, in Moscow, in the Hall of the Moscow Assembly of the Nobility there took place the first performance of a new Scriabin's work played by a newly organized orchestra of Sergey Kusevitsky. “The performance was a battle. One part of audience was hissing, another part was applausing wildly... but it was clear that it's a great event” - newspapers wrote.
The work was called “Prometheus. The Poem Of Fire”. On the scene there was a full orchestra, a piano (the author was playing it), a pipe organ and a choir. In the musical score of the symphony for the first time in music history there was a light line Luce.
«Prometheus” translated from the Ancient Greek means “foreseeing”. And this is the most suitable description for Scriabin himself. Whatever sphere of art he chose to work with, he became a pioneer in it.
When Alexander Nikolaevich worked in the Moscow Conservatory and became the first tutor whose students studied musical literature only of high artistic merit.
Scriabin was a worldwide famous concert pianist of extraordinary performing manner. It was later recreated by the best representatives of Russian piano school - Vladimir Sofronitsky, Genrikh and Stanislav Neigaouz, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels.
The harmonic language of his works sounds so freshly as if the music is composed by a modern author.
Since young age Scriabin was seriously interested in philospohy, and step by step his ideas formed his own new system, inspired by the idealist teaching, by “The Secret Doctrine” by Blavatsky, and by Eastern wisdom.
He was well in advance of his time, but also he anticipated modern art development, his light music has became the predecessor of colour music at modern discos, and his ideas of the mankind uniting comes true nowadays within the mens of communication – the Internet, social networks, mobile phones.
There was a plenty of mystical coincidences in Scriabin's life. He was born on 25 December 1871, at Christmas. He died just after the Easter week, straight in the day when his rental agreement expired. He was an unusually neat pearson, a smart-dresser, spending lots of time in front of the mirror – and he died of the septic fever caused by the carbuncle.
It happened at Bolshoy Nikolopeskovsky Lane, near Arbat street, in the house number 11, where the composer had lived his last three years.
In 1912 Scriabin rented an apartment here, on the first floor of mansion. This mansion belonged to the scholar, specializing in Latin historical grammar and Roman poetry, Apollon Apollonovich Grushka, whose teacher had been a famous scholar Ivan Tsvetaev.
This house used to be visited by the brightest creative intellectuals of Moscow, soul mates and admirers of Scriabin's art. J.D. Engel wrote: «Recently ”The House” began to mean much more for Scriabin than it used to earlier. Now he has turned into, in a manner of speaking, a domestic man. He was still fond of society, but now he preferred to gather friends at his place – and this happened almost every day, not infrequently till late. He used to like “feasts”, a table laid for dinner, glasses full of wine, long tea drinking from samovar, — in a word, everything joyful, uplifting, “a feast of life”».
Scriabin's family (his three children, his wife, her mother, and his aunt) lived in this house waiting for Alexander Nikolaevich from his endless tours.
The perfoming of music took a significant place in Scriabin's life within the last years of his life. Concerts were the main source of income, because he got rather modest earnings from the publication of his works. He was a successful pianist, and he put on lots of concerts in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, and other Russian cities. He also made some tours abroad. In the beginning of 1914 Scriabin gave a concert in London, though his further plans were ruined by the beginning of the First World War in the summer of that year.
Meanwhile all thoughts of the composer were about the creation of the Mystery. According to Sciabin's plan, it should be performed only once in a big temple, built specially for this purpose in India, and it should combine all forms of art and even odours. The whole world should have been the participant of this enormous performance, it should have reached a creative ecstasy, a dematerialization, stopped being – and it should have been born in a new spiritual capacity. Scriabin shared his ideas with close people generously; he used to like performing just composed or even unfinished works with detailed explanations. The last works of composer reflected the idea of his main opus.
In course of time Scriabin apparently started to understand that his large project was impossible to realize. That's how the plan of Preparation for the Final Mystery appeared.
The Preparation was to become something in a kind of Mystery rehearsal, its light version. Scriabin considered it to be “just” a piece of art without “world cataclysms”, ehich could be performed more than once, and for that reason his friends half-jokingly called it “a harmless Mystery”.
Alexander Nikolaevich planned to have finished this work by the beginning of concert season of 1915/16. He was so sure about it that he started the preparatory conversations with Jurgenson music publishing house concerning the publication of musical score.
During first months of 1915 Scriabin gave a lot of concerts. In february he performed in Petrograd twice, and the success was very big. In this regard the extra third concert was organized in the Small hall of Petrograd Conservatory on 15 April. This concert was destined to be the last one.
Few days after his return to Moscow Scriabin felt bad, and on 20 April he was laid up. On his lip there appeared a carbuncle, the same as had appeared a year before, during his tour in London. But this time the abscess turned out to be malignant, and it caused a sepsis. In one moment of sufferings the composer cried: “But this pain is unbearable...This means the end...But this is a catastrophe!” He died in the early morning of 27 April.
The news about his decease shocked musical public. Plenty of musicians, workers of musical institutions from different Russian cities went to pay last respects to their genius contemporary. The funeral was on 29 April. The composer's coffin was carried to the Novodevichy Convent cemetary.
He didn't want to give a short amusement,
To capture and to console with his tune;
He dreamt of higher: to bring glory to the deity and to light up with sounds spiritual depths.
He dared to melt the metal of the music, he wanted it to pour in newer cast;
He tirelessly desired for life and living to leave the monument all ready and complete,
It's fate that judges. The work' is left unfinished!
Without effect is the metal cooling fast:
Nobody will be able to move it further...
And in the days when War is holding court and our thought is used to bloody harvest, -
My heart 's unable to live down with this one death!
Valery Bryusov «On death of A.N. Scriabin» 1915