Skryabin and the impossible

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In 1904, Aleksandr Skryabin conceived a composition that would actualize the Russian Symbolist ideal of spiritual emancipation. In 1913, he determined that the work (called the Mysterium) could not be composed, since his uncertainties about his dual roles as author and participant in it had led him to a dead end. In its place, he decided to compose an introductory work entitled the Preparatory Act. Before his sudden death in 1915, he had finished only a draft libretto and fifty-five partial pages of sketches for it. Analysis of the extant material reveals the paradoxes in creating communal art. It also relates a Symbolist tragedy: how one composer's philosophical speculations led to creative silence and creative martyrdom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-330
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of the American Musicological Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Music


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