Saturday, January 20, 2018

Alexander Scriabin and the Cocoanut Grove Fire - a Different Saturday...

Today is a Saturday, to be sure. Earlier this morning, my traditional question; namely,"what will I do today?" ended up with yet another question:
"Can I extract from my memory mass a distant  Saturday of palpable significance?"
After a few moments a Saturday did indeed materialize, one I haven't thought about for years:
On the final November  Saturday in 1942 an event occurred in Boston that to this day still has a direct affect on public safety implementation , as regards regulations - a match was lit in a popular night club called Cocoanut Grove. Within minutes, the building was  aflame, the result being the loss of 492 lives, the most terrible event of this kind in our history.
I remember, as a kid, that one of my cowboy heroes,  'Buck'  Jones, a star in Western serials and other movies,  was one of the victims. Also, I was told that a family member, someone I never got to know, was another having died in the conflagration. This horrible event adhered to my collection of reminiscences for some years, as I recall.
Well, after this image reared its head this morning, I asked myself  "where does this Thing called Fire  attach itself in the arts?"
In a matter of seconds the name Alexander Scriabin came forward, alongside his composition "Ver la flamme" (toward the flame).
In his marvelous performance at his home of this piece(see it on YouTube), Vladimir Horowitz explains that a vision that Scriabin purportedly experienced; namely,  that  the world would eventually perish in flames, was the reason that this music was created. It was interesting to Horowitz that the composer's vision and ensuing music had materialized long before the discovery of nuclear fission by two German physicists in 1938 - need I go on?
Let alone the final, incomplete work by this incredibly gifted, tortured genius we call Scriabin, titled "Mysterium" - a work to be performed in the Himalayas, with no audience, with "bells hanging from clouds" as festoon, along with synesthesia utilization by way of touch and smell along with music...
did Scriabin feel that fire alone was  not enough, for mankind to be returned to the Divine?
Yes, Scriabin was indeed serious about all this.
Be assured that my thoughts about this particular Saturday  have taken a totally different direction...

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