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Luigi Verdi, Aleksandr Skrjabin tra musica e filosofia, Passigli, Firenze, 1991

Review by Paolo Troncon in Slavia, II, 1, 1993, pp.228-29.

Even today, 78 years after his death,  Aleksandr Skrjabin is an artist who has  not been completely understood by the Italian musical world. Even if the greatness of the Russian composer is acknowledged,, there is still some evident aesthetic and poetic difficulty in approaching and enjoying his music, especially the one after 1904. This is also due to the Italian musical tradition, which still rests remarkably on the musical teachings of the Italian Conservatoires. This tradition finds little affinity with Skrjabin’s musical and artistic conception. Verdi’s text follows the philosophical, aesthetic and mystic labour of the Muscovite composer, and goes over his artistic course through the analysis of the influences of the German idealistic thought (Fichte-Schopenauer line) and of Berkeley, of the Russian poets’ symbolistic thought, of Madame Blavatskij’s theosophy. In particular, a fundamental aspect in order to comprehend Skrjabin is well analyzed: esoterism, connected to the synaesthesia theory, that is to say the research on the link between sounds and colours (Prometheus). In dealing with these topics, Verdi is well able to set Skrjabin’s artistic aspirations  against the world of the Russian avant-garde, and to grasp and distinguish between the European and Eastern influences, which were crucial for the constitution of his aesthetics.

The last chapter of the text, “Skrjabin’s heritage”, completes the study  in a straighforward and concrete way as usual and makes the reader preceive the little extent in Italy  of the musical production following the composer’s death. According to such production and to the intuitions which Skrjabin did not have time enough to realize (ironically, because of a common, but lethal insect sting) but which influenced the next generation of composers close to him, the reader is made aware by intuition that the history of modern music, dominated by the figures of Debussy, Schonberg and Stravinskij, needs a reconsideration which takes into account the size of the figure of the Russian mystic.

Paolo Troncon

 

 

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