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An Examination of Innovations in Alexander Scriabin’s Late Etudes for Piano

Description: Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) stands as one of the most unconventional twentieth-century Russian composers, particularly with respect to his piano works. The overwhelming majority of Scriabin's compositions—sixty-seven of his seventy-four published works—were written for solo piano. His etudes from 1905 forward are revolutionary, especially compared with his earlier Chopinesque style. Among Scriabin’s twenty-six etudes, his Op.49, No. 1 (1905), Op.56, No. 4 (1908) and the last three etudes of Op.65 (1912) date from his last period of composition. In the Op.49 etude, Scriabin started to abandon traditional tonality. He omitted the key signature altogether in the Op.56 etude. The final three etudes of Op.65 feature constant dissonances on ninths, sevenths and fifths. Alexander Scriabin’s last five etudes represent the culmination of his compositional development and innovations at the piano. Several factors coalesce in these etudes, including unusual harmony, bichords, non-tonal hierarchy, and structural symmetry. Most of these factors derive in some fashion from Scriabin’s increasing reliance upon the so-called “mystic chord” in his late works. This study will illustrate how Scriabin explored new sonorous and aesthetic ideas in his late etudes by means of these innovations.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Lee, Kuo-Ying
Partner: UNT Libraries