Gawboy refers to Bowers quote from the concert bill note of the 1ère, but he merely mentions that Sabaneev wrote it and Scriabin “authorized” it, and gives a short quote that identifies the symbolism and summarizes the action in Biography, v. 2, pp. 206-07; her quotation is only part of Bowers’ quote, which is not the complete note, or perhaps even its complete general introductory paragraph. The full text has never been published, and as far as I have been able to determine the only copy of the concert bill (It is a 12-pp. item, including the two covers, the back one being blank, so not really a “book”.) still in existence is in the Collection of the Scriabin Museum, MMS (= Memorial Museum Scriabin) 138 KP 7 (= Book of entries 7). A pdf of the concert bill has been graciously supplied to me by Areg Mekhakyan, Head of International Relations of the Museum:

Courtesy of the Scriabin Museum in Moscow

Here is its complete text, preserving formatting, transcribed and translated, deliberately very literally rather than literarily, by Nadezhda Spivak, Assistant to the Director of the Amherst College Center for Russian Culture:

p. 1:

Симфонические концерты Сергея Кусевицкого

(= Symphonic concerts by Sergey Kusevitskiy)

p. 2:

1910 – 1911

в среду, 2-го марта

(= On Wednesday, March 2nd)

в Большом зале Благородного Собрания

(= In the Great Hall of the August Gathering)



под управлением СЕРГЕЯ КУСЕВИЦКОГО

(= conducted by SERGEY KUSEVITSKIY)

с участием А.Н.СКРЯБИНА

(= With participation of A.N.SCRIABIN)

программа из сочинений А.Н.СКРЯБИНА:

(= Music program of A.N.SCRIABIN:)

1.   Вторая симфония C-moll. Op.29:

(= Second Symphony C-minor. Op.29:)

a)   Andante

b)   Allegro

c)   Andante, Poco vivo, piu agitato. Tempo I. Piu vivo. Tempo I.

d)   Tempestoso

e)   Maestoso

             -   АНТРАКТ (= INTERMISSION) –

2.   «Прометей» (Поэма огня) для большого оркестра, фортепиано, хора и органа. Ор. 60.

(= Prometheus: The Poem of Fire for a full orchestra, pianoforte, choir, and organ. Op.60)

Партия фортепиано исполнит АВТОР.

(= The pianoforte part is performed by the AUTHOR himself.)

Начало в 9 часов вечера. (= Beginning is at 9 p.m.)

The names of the shops that supplied the pianoforte and the organ are at the bottom.

Pp. 3, 4, and the top 1/3 of 5: a detailed description of the Second Symphony Op.29 (andante, allegro, andante, tempestoso, maestoso), accompanied by 9 musical examples, lettered A – I with comments.

P. 5, bottom 2/3:

«Прометей». Поэма огня. Ор. 60. (Сочинено в 1910 г.)

(= Prometheus: The Poem of Fire. Op.60 (Composed in 1910)

Прометей (Prometheus, Satanas, Lucifer) есть символ, в разных формах встречающийся во всех древних деистических учениях. Это – активная энергия вселенной, творческий принцип, это – огонь, свет, жизнь, борьба, усилие, мысль. Первая манифестация его есть томление, жажда жизни; в этом томлении обнаруживается, прежде всего, – полярность Духа и Материи; творческий порыв порождает сопротивление, инертность – материализацию, впоследствии – неподвижность фиксированных форм. В дальнейшем он вступает в борьбу с этой материей, – этой им же самим поставленной гранью. И преодолев её, возвращается в состояние первоначального покоя.

(= Prometheus (Prometheus, Satanas, Lucifer) is a symbol which is mentioned in different forms in all the deistic teachings. It is an active energy of the Universe, its creative principle, it is a fire, light, life, fight, effort, thought. Its first manifestation is a yearning, a zest for life; the polarity of Spirit and Matter is, above all, found in this yearning; a creative urge gives birth to the resistance, the inertia – to the materialization, and, as a result, there is an immobility of the fixed forms. Hereafter, it takes to fighting with this matter – with this verge imposed by itself and, having overcome it, comes back to the state of original peace.)

[This is the paragraph from which Bowers quotes in his Biography, v. 2, pp. 206-207; his translation is more literary. Because Sabaneev ostensibly wrote this note, with Scriabin at his side and approving it, according to his statement in his Vospominanija […], p. 94, and because Sabaneev’s name appears nowhere in the concert bill, and there are no quotation marks anywhere in it, as happens in his Vospominanija […] when he is quoting Scriabin in his own writing (See above and below), and because the program emphasizes, p. 2, that the Author is participating in the performance, it is not possible to know for certain if these are Sabaneev’s or Scriabin’s words.]

Тематический анализ

(= Thematic analysis)

Pp. 5-9: a detailed analysis of performance of Prometheus, accompanied by 15 musical examples, numbered 1 – 15, with comments, seemingly intended for musicians, according to Spivak; they are technical enough that she does not feel qualified to translate them.

Pp. 9-10: list of musicians

Pp.10-11; other musical programs in 1911-1912.

At the end:

Продолжительность поэмы «Прометей» – 25 минут.

(= The time length for conducting Prometheus is 25 minutes.)

One of Scriabin’s last (1914) piano miniatures (c. 5:30-6:30 depending on the performance): Vers la flamme, Poème pour piano, Op. 72 is also an outgrowth from the Prometheus and Mysterium/L’Acte préalable vision. Sabaneev quotes Scriabin speaking about this work in his Vospominanija […], p. 295: “‘Тут смотрите, как всё понемногу расцветает…из туманов до ослепительного света…'” [= “‘Have a look here as everything is blooming little by little… from fogs to the blinding light…'” trans. Spivak]. Maria Lettberg quotes the equivalent from the Erinnerungen […] on p. 13 of the booklet (Her trans., p. 20, is slightly different.) accompanying her 8-CD + DVD set (Alexander Scriabin, Das Klavierwerk/Solo Piano works; Complete Recording; Cappriccio 49586, © 2007; piano unidentified) without a page reference, and I was unable to locate it because I no longer have access to the book. She closes her CD # 7: “Impromptus/Poèmes” with it (the shorter), and her and artist/designer Andrea Schmidt’s DVD realization of “Mysterium” as well.

Christopher O’Riley (of “From The Top” fame) closed his Scriabin program, created in 1999 to accompany a theatre production by Martha Clarke of five short stories by Anton Chekov, recorded in 2001 as a CD (Image Recordings, IRC 9902, 73:44) bearing its title for the entire program/CD, in a 5:53 rendering; the original is out of print, but it can be obtained via Baby.

Vadym Kholodenko likewise uses it (the longer and a bit more effective) to close his nicely selected and finely played (on a Fazioli piano) program: “Preludes, Etudes & Sonatas nos. 4 & 5,” of works by the composer, who intrigues him greatly, according to his note in its accompanying booklet (Harmonia Mundi, HMM 902255, © 2018), so it needs to be heard and mentioned in this context, since it is in miniature the same musical trajectory as that of the orchestra and lights in Prometheus.

November 10, 2018: I have recently found an excellent capsule description of Scriabin’s music, its style, and the philosophy behind it, in an unexpected place: on pp. 4-5 of the booklet accompanying a CD: Complete Piano Music, Volume Two (Toccata Classics TOCC 0328, © 2016) by Lithuanian composer, Vytautas Bacevičius (1905-70) brother of Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-69), violinist and composer, who was influenced by it, but most of whose music remained unpublished, much unperformed even, until recently, because of the trajectories of his life and his country during his lifetime, in its note by Šarūnas Nakas (Lithuanian composer, b.1962): “[…] his early works showed more affinity with Alexander Skryabin and owed much to Skryabin’s intricate piano textures, rhythmic and serpentine lines, twisting in a flame-like manner. Bacevičius was also no less attracted to the otherworldly themes, esoteric and mystical thought [presumably those of Scriabin] which infused his [B’s] early piano pieces (Poème mystique, 1926; Poème astral, 1927) and gained especially powerful expression in his late years (Poème cosmique, 1959; Rayons cosmiques and Sixième mot, 1963; Graphique, 1964; Septième mot, 1966).” These titles are similar to those of Scriabin, and the music (some are orchestral works, some also recorded on the Toccata Classics label) is like a modern extension of many of Scriabin’s concepts. “He chose an esoteric path, leading towards ‘a new theory for musical creation’, where ‘music is the key element in the existence of the Universe, a constant product of its vibration, which creates magnetism responsible for keeping the entire Universe in balance.'” The quotes are from a letter he wrote, but one could almost believe it was written by Scriabin. It also brings to mind the ancient ‘harmony of the spheres’ concept.

Note: This is part 2 of 2 parts. For part 1 of this article, click here.