1st Edition

Skryabin, Philosophy and the Music of Desire

By Kenneth M. Smith Copyright 2013

    Commentary on Skryabin has struggled to situate an understanding of the composer's music within his idiosyncratic philosophical world views. Early commentators' efforts to do so failed to establish a thorough or systematic approach. And later twentieth-century studies turned away from the composer's ideology, focusing instead on 'the music itself' with an analytic approach that scrutinized Skryabin's harmonic language in isolation from his philosophy. This groundbreaking study revisits the questions surrounding the composer's music within his own philosophy, but draws on new methodological tools, casting Skryabin's music in the light not only of his own philosophy of desire, but of more refined semiotic-psychoanalytical theory and modern techniques of music analysis. An interdisciplinary methodology corrects the narrow focus of Skryabin scholarship of the last century, offering insights from New Musicology and recent music theory that lead to hermeneutical, critically informed readings of selected works.

    List of figures and tables, List of music examples, Acknowledgements, Introduction: Skryabin, Philosophy and the Music of Desire, 1 Desire, Creativity and Gender Polarity in the Compositional Explosion of 1903, 2 The Hidden Breakdown of Masculinity: An Appointment with Sister Death, 3 Towards the Flame: Panpsychism, Theosophy and Hyper-Subjectivity, 4 An Incorrigible Mystic? Skryabin the Dialectical Materialist, Lacan’s ‘Graph of Desire’ and Le Poème de l’extase, 5 Level IV: The Real Drive and Skryabin’s Mystic ‘Chora’, Bibliography, Index 159


    Dr Kenneth Smith, Lecturer in Music, School of Music, University of Liverpool, UK.

    ' ... the book should be of interest to scholars of music interested in the relation between musical expression, critical theory, and philosophy. Admirers of Scriabin’s music might similarly find in Smith’s analysis intriguing new perspectives on well-known compositions.' Russian Review 'Kenneth Smith superbly brings together philosophical and psychoanalytical approaches to Scriabin’s music. ... It is an important book for a music scholar or a performer alike who wants to truly understand the multidimensional spectrum of Scriabin’s music.' Notes 'Skryabin, Philosophy and the Music of Desire is a welcome change of pace. ... Smith has given us a convincing reminder that the psychoanalytic approach suits Skyrabin's music well.' Slavic and East European Journal