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Mysterium (Scriabin) 1

Mysterium (Scriabin)
Mysterium is an unfinished musical work by composer Alexander Scriabin. He started working on the composition
in 1903, but it was incomplete at the time of his death in 1915.
Scriabin planned that the work would be synesthetic, exploiting the senses of smell and touch as well as hearing. He
wrote that
"There will not be a single spectator. All will be participants. The work requires special people, special artists
and a completely new culture. The cast of performers includes an orchestra, a large mixed choir, an
instrument with visual effects, dancers, a procession, incense, and rhythmic textural articulation. The
cathedral in which it will take place will not be of one single type of stone but will continually change with the
atmosphere and motion of the Mysterium. This will be done with the aid of mists and lights, which will modify
the architectural contours."
Scriabin intended that the performance of this work, to be given in the foothills of the Himalayas in India, would last
seven days and would be followed by the end of the world, with the human race replaced by "nobler beings".
At the time of his death, Scriabin left 72 pages of sketches for a prelude to the Mysterium entitled Prefatory Action.
These sketches have been completed by Alexander Nemtin to form a three-hour-long work, a task that took him 28
years, and recorded.
One of the key components of later Scriabin compositions is related to his preliminary thinking for the "Mysterium".
The so-called "Mystic chord", C F# Bb E A D, starts gradually to serve as a source of harmonic and melodic material
in some of Scriabin's works from the "Poem of Ecstasy" onwards. The notes of the chord are rarely used in the pure
form just cited, all spaced in fourths, and are usually rearranged, doubled, and inverted in various ways when in
actual use in a composition, so that the original chord spaced in fourths is scarcely recognizable, even when its notes
are the basis of a passage. This use of the chord reached its climax in Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, while The
Poem of Ecstasy which preceded it, although starting to suggest the chord, does not in fact use the complete chord
with any frequency. Some hints of the chord start to appear even considerably earlier, however - for instance, in the
Sonata no. 4 in F# major, op. 30.
This chord was to provide the tonal framework for "Mysterium" rather than conventional tonal triads. The
"Mysterium Chord" is almost a whole-tone scale but with one constituent pitch-class raised a semitone, turning the
Fortean aggregate (02468T) into (013579). This is the Prometheus scale, and its notes are the exact constituents of
the Mystic chord. (However, for the Mysterium, Scriabin had expanded this chord up to stacked chords containing
all twelve tones of the tempered scale.) Later on in the 20th century the (original) scale/harmony influenced
composers such as Francis Poulenc, Olivier Messiaen and Toru Takemitsu.

See also
• Synesthesia in art

External links
• CD Review [1]
• Biography of Scriabin, including a description of the Mysterium [2]
• Article [3]
• Scriabin in the Himalayas [4]
• "Scriabin's Mysterium and the Birth of Genius" by Emanuel E. Garcia [5]
Mysterium (Scriabin) 2

[1] http:/ / classicalcdreview. com/ mysterium. htm
[2] http:/ / www. scriabinsociety. com/ biography. html
[3] http:/ / home. uchicago. edu/ ~nat222/ viktor/ scriabin. html
[4] http:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20040820111547/ http:/ / www. towerofbabel. com/ sections/ music/ baton/ johnbellyoung/ prisms/ himalayas/
[5] http:/ / www. componisten. net/ downloads/ ScriabinMysterium. pdf
Article Sources and Contributors 3

Article Sources and Contributors

Mysterium (Scriabin)  Source:  Contributors: A.G. Pinkwater, Domino42, G. Warren Grant, Grover cleveland, Jafeluv, JustAGal, Kyoko,
M.J.E., MegA, Melchoir, Neelix, Nihiltres, Rajah, Rheostatik, Tony Sidaway, Viriditas, 6 anonymous edits

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