The Notebooks of Alexander Skryabin

ISBN : 9780190863661

Simon Nicholls
280 ページ
156 x 235 mm

This new source-book for the Russian composer Alexander Skryabin provides a full translation of his writings as published in Moscow in 1919, with supplementary texts and letters from the composer. Commentary by Simon Nicholls examines the sources of Skryabin's thought and its relation to aspects of his compositional techniques, and an outline biography relates Skryabin's work to his extraordinary short life.


Foreword: Vladimir Ashkenazy
Editorial procedure:
The translations
Russian dates
Preface : Simon Nicholls
Cultural context
Biographical elements
The Writings of Skryabin (Russkie propilei, Moscow, 1919)
[Note by Mikhail Gershenzon]
A Note by Boris de Schloezer on the Preliminary Action 4
The Notebooks:
I. A single sheet, written at the age of about sixteen
II. Period of the First Symphony, around 1900
III. Chorus from Symphony No. 1
IV. Libretto for an opera, after the First Symphony but before 1903
V. Notebook, summer 1904, Switzerland
VI. Notebook, 1904-5
VII. Notebook, 1905-6
VIII. The Poem of Ecstasy
IX. [The Preliminary Action]:
1. Initial version, full text
2. Final, fair copy of the text, unfinished
The Growth of Skryabin's Thought Simon Nicholls
A 'philosopher-musician'?
The influence of philosophy:
Music and philosophy
Skryabin's reading
Ernest Renan
Greek philosophy
German Idealism
Russian philosophy and Russian Symbolism
Conference at Geneva
The influence of Theosophy
Indian culture
Skryabin's philosophy of music
Skryabin's 'teaching'
Thought in words, music, colour: Skryabin's developing Symbolist practice
Skryabin's poetic language
The Poem of Ecstasy: text and music (1905-1908)
Prometheus: music, colour and the word (1908-1910)
The Preliminary Action:
A preliminary to what? - 'The idea of the Mystery'
(Leonid Sabaneyev)
Performance as sacrament
The music for the Preliminary Action
People and publications:
Leonid Sabaneyev
Mikhail Gershenzon and Russkie propilei
Supplementary texts by Alexander Skryabin:
I. Reminiscences of youth
II. Text to an unfinished Ballade for piano (1887)
III. Romance (1891)
IV. An early statement of aspiration (1892)
Letters to Natal'ya Sekerina:
V. [June 1892]
VI. [July 1892]
VII. [May/June 1893]
VIII. [June 1893]
Letters to Margarita Morozova:
IX. April 1904
X. [April/May 1906]
Letters to Tat'yana de Schloezer:
XI. [January 1905]
XII. [December 1906]
XIII. Poem to accompany Sonata No. 4.
XIV. Open Letter to A. N. Bryanchaninov: 'Art and Politics' (1915)
Biographical notes


Simon Nicholls is a pianist, teacher and independent researcher who has performed and broadcast internationally. In 2007 he taught a masterclass at the Skryabin Memorial Museum, and in the Skryabin centenary year, 2015, he gave a number of lecture-recitals on Skryabin in Britain and France. He is an Honorary Fellow of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.; Michael Pushkin is Russian language coach for singers at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Previously, he taught Russian literature, history, and language at the University of Birmingham and other universities. He has published articles on the social history of the nineteenth-century Russian intelligentsia and on the poet Andrei Voznesensky.