Protagonists of the Musical Renewal in Russia and Ukraine at the Beginning of the 20th Century, in “Slavia”, I, 1996, pp.51-62.

Around 1920, several Russian and Ukrainian composers developed, each one independently of the others, harmonic rules where (in a more or less conscious way) the twelve-tone set was either the composing unit or the ordering principle. Between Skryabin’s and these composers’ sound worlds there was no discontinuity and the link was perfectly consequent: their attempts were, in a considerable part, within the late-Romantic stylistic tradition. Yet, there is not any “manifesto” which justifies and connects these attempts, in their resolute looking to the future; besides, the October revolution isolated the various artistic experiences and did not permit their development into a unitary school.

The use of new music scales spread in Russia at the end of 19th century more than in the rest of Europe which was still ruled by the major-minor ones. Together with all the possibilities of non-diatonic arbitrary formations, the trend of composing with symmetrical scales was rather frequent. Moreover, dodecaphonic thought developed to a high level of complexity, under circumstances which were completely independent of Western influence. Although there are significant structural differences between the chromatic whole and the non-traditional groups, the assumption of both systems remains the tempered scale. If it had not been due to the cultural isolation after the October revolution, probably also Moscow, like Vienna, would have been recognized as a stronghold of dodecaphonic music.

Today it is clear that Skryabin was not an isolated musician but that his death, which occurred at the outbreak of the First World War and, after his death, the prevailing of very different directions from the previous ones of Skryabin have undoubtedly hindered all those who would gravitate within Skryabin’s sphere of influence.


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