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Full of Harmonic Richness

The MHS Review 236 Vol. 3, No. 2 March 5, 1979

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Rachel Lulov Segall

"Alexander Scriabin held a dream which has surfaced in many forms in different cultures. He dreamed of creating a synthesis of the arts: it would be a masterpiece which would transform the world. "


One artist, Scriabin and the mystical connection between art, artists and all of us.

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Alexander Scriabin held a dream which has surfaced in many forms in different cultures. He dreamed of creating a synthesis of the arts: it would be a masterpiece which would transform the world. All of the arts would combine in devotion to a "mystical spirit". Even the art of perfume making was included. {Dreams of achievements this all-encompassing are not at all uncommon among most inspired artists.) He went as far as to write an essay concerning this goal and made other attempts to realize his vision of uniting the arts.

A "Keyboard of Light" was attempted. The lights were coordinated to the chordal structure of "Prometheus: Poem of Fire" but it did not work out well. it was too literal an idea to apply to a visual art. For diverse disciplines to 'work' together, each must be given its due. no one form can be rigidly projected or determined from the point of view of another one. Perhaps, if a visual artist were given the freedom to project the lights by interacting on a personal, emotional and artistic level with the music. Scriabin would have had a real chance of succeeding in combining two of the arts.

The turn of the century was a time of great expectations. experiment and change in the arts, and of social transition. "Mysticism" and superstition were even more prominent than they are today. It was perfectly acceptable to discuss creating a new "mystery" to transform the world, and Scriabin was not the first artist to do so, nor was he the last. Some dream of Golden Ages in the past: others hope for the future.

Unfortunately. Scriabin paid dearly for his theory and dream. Later critics (post-WWl), some of whom did not necessarily know his work very well, unfairly rejected it out of hand. Mysticism was no longer in fashion.

"lnterart" is the current term coined for the conscious attempt to create interaction of the arts. This does not mean simply viewing a painting and writing a score based on it or listening to a sonata and painting a mural in response. It is more complex. It is the mutual, permanent influence of the arts on one another, which leads (hopefully), to growth and progression.

I personally listen to the work of Scriabin for mood, color and pace, and revel in his strong emotional content. It provides me with a focus for exploring mood change and a very different sense of drama from my own. His harmonic richness reminds me of a forest: the layers of sound-texture provoke feelings of diverse visual textures. The strong shift of mood in his work creates shifts of visual scenes in my mind's-eye. The changing pace of his music reminds me of my own varying pace while creating a painting or sculpture.

Sometimes slow and deliberate. then driving and determined. During the day I often take a break from my own work and listen to music, for refreshment and renewal. It also provides physical rest in the midst of the strenuous labor of sculpting. After listening to Scriabin, I feel as though I have seen the emotional world of another person, thereby gaining more perspective of my own emotional point-of-view. There is the sensation of having left for a trip, seen new sights. and returned renewed, refreshed, and ready to work harder.

To say my own work is influenced directly or exclusively by Scriabin's music would be a distortion and an overstatement. But I recognize his influence in the sense of "interart" mentioned previously.

In other words. the artist reflects not only training and exposure in his or her own speciality. but exposure to the complete web and fabric of al! the arts. It is this that comprises the material of which an artist is made and from which he or she draws in the act of creating.

I personally am thankful that the work of Scriabin was not lost to us simply because of changing fashion or overly harsh judgement of his dreams. It would have been a tragic mistake to have lost the opportunity for creative stimulation that Scriabin affords us. I use his music as a respite from my own work and sensibilities in order to re-focus mood. texture. color and pace when I return to my own craft.

Rachel Lulov Segall is an artist and sculptor living in N.Y.C. She has exhibited in Gallery 26. and her photo-collages have appeared in The New York Times and Natural History Magazine.

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