The Alexander Scriabin Companion: History, Performance, and Lore

The Alexander Scriabin Companion: History, Performance, and Lore


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This unique collaboration between a musicologist and two pianists – all experts in Russian music – takes a fresh look at the supercharged music and polarizing reception of the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. From his Chopin-inspired miniatures to his genre-bending symphonies and avant-garde late works, Scriabin left a unique mark on music history. Scriabin’s death centennial in 2015 brought wider exposure and renewed attention to this pioneering composer. Music lovers who are curious about Scriabin have been torn between specialized academic studies and popular sources that glamorize his interests and activities, often at the expense of historical accuracy. This book bridges the divide between these two branches of literature, and brings a modern perspective to his music and legacy.

Drawing on archival materials, primary sources in Russian, and recently published books and articles, Part One details the reception and performance history of Scriabin’s solo piano and orchestral music. High quality recordings are recommended for each piece. Part Two explores four topics in Scriabin’s reception: the myths generated by Scriabin’s biographers, his claims to synaesthesia or “color-hearing,” his revival in 1960s America as a proto-Flower Child, and the charges of anti-Russianness leveled against his music. Part Three investigates stylistic context and performance practice in the piano music, and considers the domains of sound, rhythm, and harmony. It offers interpretive strategies for deciphering Scriabin’s challenging scores at the keyboard.

Students, scholars, and music enthusiasts will benefit from the historical insights offered in this interdisciplinary book. Armed with this knowledge, readers will be able to better appreciate the stylistic innovations and colorful imagination of this extraordinary composer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442232617
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 07/15/2017
Pages: 440
Sales rank: 904,176
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Lincoln Ballard has taught at the University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, Southwestern College, and Cascadia Community College. His dissertation offered the first comprehensive study of Alexander Scriabin’s posthumous reception history.

Matthew Bengtson, assistant professor of piano literature at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, is critically acclaimed as a leading interpreter of Scriabin’s work.

John Bell Young is the founder and CEO of Identity Marketing for Concert Artists Inc., winner of the 1985 Chopin Foundation Council Prize, and a leading authority on the music of Alexander Scriabin.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Stephen Hough
CHAPTER ONE – En Garde or Avant-Garde? Exploding the Scriabin Myth
– John Bell Young
– Lincoln Ballard
CHAPTER TWO – Life, Legacy, and Music
CHAPTER THREE – The Solo Piano Music
CHAPTER FOUR – Symphonies and Orchestral Works
– Lincoln Ballard
CHAPTER FIVE – Madness and Other Myths
CHAPTER SIX – On Synaesthesia or “Color-Hearing”
CHAPTER SEVEN – Scriabin’s Russian Roots and the Symbolist Aesthetic
CHAPTER EIGHT – The Revival in 1960s America
– Matthew Bengtson
CHAPTER NINE – From Musical Text to the Imagination
CHAPTER TEN – Technique
CHAPTER ELEVEN – Line and Melody
CHAPTER THIRTEEN – The Scriabin Sound
Glossary and Pronunciation Guide

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