Thursday, December 6, 2007

Strange Bedfellows, Indeed!

Alexander Scriabin underwent, arguably, the most profound synthesis of any of the great composers. He moved, in a relatively short life(1871-1915), from the dreamy, Chopinesque world of late Romanticism to a world of pure mysticism, where, for instance, he described one aspect of his late work, Mysterium, as a place where "bells were hung from clouds."
While in Italy, in 1905, he met a man who spoke five languages fluently, foresaw Revolution in his writings, and who became a great friend of the composer.
They constantly met, arguing primarily about the place of the artist in a political world, and at times demonstrated various levels of anger toward one another; however, their friendship and mutual love of that friendship prevailed.
The synthesis Scriabin had undergone formed an elemental sense of revolt in his music. After playing sections of his Poem of Ecstasy for this man, Scriabin said that "my music reeks of revolt and of the ideals the Russian people pursue". His friend retorted by exclaiming "Haven't I proven to you that the artist cannot simply be suspended in sky-blue ether?"
And so their arguments between dialectical materialism and mystic idealism persisted, but never impaired their friendship, which never diminished.
I might point out to you that this gentleman was Georgi Plekhanov, the brilliant Russian writer and devoted friend of Lenin. Plekhanov was the man who translated "Das Kapital" of Karl Marx - into Russian.

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