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In Reply to: RE: Scriabin's "Le poeme de l'extase" (Poem of Ecstasy). . . with choral parts??? posted by sser2 on February 17, 2021 at 20:39:14
I think that's a matter of opinion! ;-)
In Faubion Bower's biography, he quotes Scriabin's remark that he could not compose unless he was in the state of extreme sexual excitation (!). Furthermore, if you just look at some of the titles of his piano pieces, it becomes clear what the inspiration is. As Yevgeni Sudbin writes in the booklet notes for one of his own recordings of Scriabin's piano music:Scriabin was also the first to introduce sex into his music, and quite explicitly too.But whether one thinks there is sex in Scriabin's music or not, I do agree with you that he is indeed a "super composer".
While acknowledging Brahms' romanticism and Wagner's gardens of worldly tempta -
tions, Scriabin went several steps further, when he wrote music entitled Desire, Danced
Caress, Sensual Delights and, above all, the Poem of Ecstasy. Some of the passages from
the accompanying poem leave little to the imagination and are too explicit to mention (as
is indeed the music, but even censorship has a limit).
I can only say that what Sudbin is doing is regurgitating the mainstream banalities. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of music idiom will hear in the finale the grandiose, supernova-like cosmic event, not, excuse me, ejaculation.
literally means "transposition out of your state", and this is how Skryabin's title should be interpreted. That the word acquired sexual connotations in several languages is not helpful here.
It is similar to Pathetic, originally something grandiose, elevated, but somehow meaning "poor" or "miserable" in the English language.
Skryabin was more a philosopher than a composer, but this fact is interpreted, incorrectly and unfortunately, to the effect that he was sick in the head by mainstream musicology.
. . . there are too many other aspects of his life which make it difficult for me to believe that his music doesn't have an erotic component to it. You're not necessarily wrong to concentrate on the philosophical connotations and meanings of his music, but I daresay that most writers and musicians perceive the erotic component too. OTOH, I don't know of any legitimate scholarly or popular writer who has tried to make the case that Scriabin was "sick in the head". (Stanchinsky. . . well, that's another story.)
May I ask who (if anyone) has influenced you in your ascetic view of the composer?
Rather factual. I don't deny sexuality playing a role in Skryabin's creativity. As well as in Bach's, Beethoven's, or Schubert's. But to say that Poem of Ecstasy was inspired by some sex craze is utter nonsense. I guess it has something to do with sales pitch. Sex sells, unlike philosophy. Put a naked woman's body on the album cover, and, with suggestive title, sales are guaranteed.
For starters, there is a Wikipedia article about Poem and accompanying Skryabin's text. There is nothing, zilch, nada about sex. It is liberation of spirit of the Creator (composer himself), that in the final act dissolves in the Universe and becomes the Universe itself.
I was hooked on Skryabin after attending the Prometheus - with color light keyboard part - in the Oktyabrsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg in early 80s. There are nice Skryabin biography sources, fiction and non-fiction, unfortunately only in Russian.
Per the very same Wikipedia article:Modest Altschuler, who helped Scriabin revise the score in Switzerland in 1907, and who conducted the premiere with the Russian Symphony Society of New York on 10 December 1908, reported that Scriabin's implied program (which does not appear in the score) is based on three main ideas: his soul in the orgy of love , the realization of a fantastical dream, and the glory of his own art.Hmm. . . maybe he was referring to tantric sex in the part I bolded! ;-)
I agree with you to the extent that, with music being fundamentally abstract, one can't say for sure whether its "meaning" consists of one thing or another - or both or neither. The fact that well known musicians like Sudbin acknowledge that there seems to be a sexual element in it is interesting however - and the work's eroticism is a well known part of the lingua franca in discussions and writings about the music. You're welcome to have your own ideas about the work, but you can't deny that the sensual aspects of this music pervade the general knowledge about this work throughout the world.
Another thing about the Wikipedia article is that it quotes only four of the over three hundred lines of Scriabin's poem. Fortunately, the Bowers biography to which I referred to earlier has the whole poem, and includes some of the more juicy parts which Wikipedia left out:It [the spirit] lingers with a kiss
Over a whole world of titillation [. . .]
Horrors lift up your heads
Try to destroy me,
Caverns of dragons' mouths
Serpents twist around me
Constrict me and bite me [. . . ]
The wave of my being
Has already seized you.
You are quivering already! [. . . ]
I will bring you
The magical thrill
Of scorching love
And unimagined caresses.
I will drown you in oceans of bliss
And beloved kisses
Of great heaving waves [. . . ]
And then in torrents of flowers
I will lie upon you
With all aromas and scents.
I will bask languidly
In this play of fragrance
Now tender, now sharp
In the play of touches.
And, sinking into passion,
Then I will plunge. . .
With savage torment and terror
I will crawl upon you. . .
And will bite and choke you.
And you will want me
More madly and more passionately.
Then I will lie upon you
Under rays of celestial suns.
And you will burn with the fires
Of my emotion,
Flames of desire.
[and so on],
Maybe the poem was not "inspired by some sex craze", but it sure sounds pretty close to me! ;-)
Finally, you DO know that it's a cop out to claim that the only legitimate Scriabin biographical sources are in Russian, right? And in any case, you do know that some Scriabin biographies originally written in Russian, e.g., the one by Boris de Schloezer, have been translated into English, no?
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