A fascinating article about the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin describes how he succeeded as a composer, despite his rather self-absorbed life.
When Alexander Scriabin died in 1915, nobody could have been more surprised than he was. Mere death was not part of his life plan. During his last decade he had been envisaging something far more apocalyptic, whereby the whole of humanity, intoxicated by his music and mesmerised by his God-like magnetism and omnipotence, would join him in the Mysterium, an act of ecstatic transcendence to a higher plane of existence. Set against such ambitious plans, the blood poisoning that actually killed him when complications set in with a carbuncle on his lip seems somewhat humdrum. But it is all too easy to mock Scriabin for his self-deluded beliefs in his Messianic calling. The fact is that the weird workings of his mind generated music that possesses and transmits emotional rapture and a consuming, hypnotic energy which, if not exactly signalling the dawn of a Day of Judgement, does have the power to envelop the listener in a voluptuous world of spellbinding, life-affirming, sensuous sound.
Scriabin’s personality was a bizarre blend of the pragmatic and the preposterous. To read the letters he sent home to Moscow while away on his extensive tours as a concert pianist, he comes across as someone with close, affectionate family ties and with a down-to-earth approach to the day-to-day arrangements of his schedule and travel, at the same time enthusiastically conveying information about the music he is working on. Then you turn to his private notebooks and find him declaring enigmatically, ‘I am come to tell you the secret of life, the secret of death, the secret of heaven and earth’; ‘The whole world is inundated with the waves of my being.’