On the tracks of Scriabin as Pianist

by Simon Nicholls
Revised version of an article first published in Russian translation, in
Uchëniye Zapiski [Scholarly Writings] vol. 6, published by
the Scriabin Memorial Museum, Moscow 2011

It pleases me as a pianist to play them…With me they sound well…
Alexander Scriabin

In his memoirs of Scriabin Alexander Goldenweiser used the carefully chosen phrase: ‘Scriabin was a pianist, one may say, of genius.’[1] And in the words ‘one may say’ is revealed the writer’s awareness of the controversy which surrounded Scriabin’s extremely individual playing during his lifetime. The first wife of the composer, Vera Ivanovna Scriabina, an excellent pianist, expressed the opinion that his playing hindered public understanding of the music: ‘Everything, though, in which people see shortcomings of the works comes from a performance which is exceedingly free and unrhythmical, which hinders understanding and assessment of the works.’[2] On the other hand, no less a figure than A. V. Ossovsky stated in his reminiscences, writing of Scriabin’s performance at home of his own Prometheus: ‘This performance deepened my perception of this music exceedingly.’[3] The review in The Times of the performance conducted by Henry Wood of Prometheus with Scriabin at the piano and after Wood’s discussion of the work with the composer was that Prometheus was ‘wonderfully clarified’ in comparison with a performance with the English pianist Arthur Cook the previous year.[4]

In order to make sense of these contradictory opinions it is necessary to examine the origins of Scriabin’s pianism and to compare  critical responses in the press and the  descriptions by friends and colleagues of Scriabin’s pianism and interpretative methods. Such descriptions are necessarily subjective. It is particularly important, therefore, to take into account the strictly objective evidence represented by the transcriptions into staff notation made by Pavel Lobanov from the composer’s recordings of his own works on reproducing pianos (‘player’ pianos which can play rolls which reproduce, with varying degrees of accuracy, previously recorded performances.)[5] The rolls were endorsed, with certain reservations, by  Leonid Sabaneyev, who frequently heard Scriabin perform in both domestic and public conditions, and was concerned that the tradition of his interpretation might be lost to succeeding generations:

‘There exist recordings of his playing on mechanical instruments, which, if they cannot reproduce his nervous technique, nonetheless to a high degree reproduce the play of rhythm.’[6]

By  the phrase ‘nervous technique’ Sabaneyev intended to indicate the subtle nuances and colours, and perhaps also the refined pedalling, of Scriabin’s playing. These limitations of the recordings are acknowledged by Lobanov.[7] But what Sabaneyev does not mention in his account of the mechanical recordings is their preservation of the changes made by the composer in his own text, an aspect of the composer’s interpretation to which Sabaneyev himself attached great importance.[8] It should be remembered that Sabaneyev was writing purely from an aural impression of the recordings, and not from the study of a graphic representation. As the transcriptions into staff notation show the moment of depression and release of each key, much may be deduced from them about the composer’s instrumental technique. Thus, many aspects of the contemporary accounts may be checked against the testimony of these transcriptions, and we may come nearer to answering the question: was Scriabin’s playing some sort of wilful, nervous aberration, or did his freedoms of rhythm and modifications of his own text illuminate the meaning of his music?

Roots and early days

Scriabin’s mother, Lyubov Petrovna Scriabina, née Shchetinina (1849-1873), died only a year after his birth, but it is likely that he inherited his musical ability, both as performer and composer, from her. In a burgeoning concert career before her marriage to Nikolai Alexandrovich Scriabin in 1871 her wide repertoire included her own compositions, none of which, unfortunately, survive. Her period of study with Theodore Leschetizky in St. Petersburg overlapped by one year that of Vasily Safonov, the later teacher of Scriabin, and the director of the conservatoire at that time, Anton Rubinstein, referred to her as his ‘little daughter’. Thus, Scriabin also owed valuable connections in the musical world to his mother. [9]

In her touching and charming memoir, Lyubov’ Alexandrovna, the aunt of the composer, who took over his upbringing, recounts an informal early musical education. This was on the advice of Rubinstein. Hearing of Lyubov’ Petrovna’s death and of her gifted son, Rubinstein showed great interest in the child. Struck by the little boy’s musical talent, he recommended that Lyubov’ Alexandrovna, who was herself an amateur pianist, should not make him either play or compose unless he wished to; this was probably in Scriabin’s seventh year.[10] ‘Shurin’ka’ (the affectionate diminutive by which Scriabin was known as a little boy) played by ear at the age of five and also improvised at an early age,[11] but he was impatient with notation, which bored him, and was still playing more readily by ear and improvising than from music when he entered the cadet corps in 1882.[12]

This early preference seems to have stayed with Scriabin to some extent, leading later on to the difficulties with establishing a correct text recorded in the correspondence with Belyayev. Scriabin later became far more conscious of musical orthography, but retained the bad habit (against the advice of Taneyev) of correcting proofs at the piano.[13] As Sabaneyev remarked: ‘Every work exists fully, complete to the last detail, only in the mental image of its author.’[14] In the case of Scriabin, he further observed, ‘His notation in relation to his conception is one of the most incomplete.’[15] This incompleteness had its roots, Sabaneyev felt, in the capriciousness of Scriabin’s conception, but his waywardness with manuscripts and proofs is also an important factor.

In the summer of 1883 Scriabin commenced piano lessons with Georgiy Konyus, then twenty years old.  Konyus was not impressed by  their first meeting: ‘The little boy looked puny. He was pale, of small stature, looked younger than his years…he turned out not to know notation very well; he knew the scales and the tonalities, and with the weak sound of his little fingers which barely carried he played to me, what exactly, I don’t remember, but it was accurate and satisfactory… he learned pieces quickly, but his performance, it should be remembered, as a result of the shortcomings of his physique, was always ethereal and monotonous.’[16]

The complaint of an insufficiently strong tonal quality was to haunt Scriabin in press notices of the less favourable tendency in later years:

‘The weakest point of Scriabin as a concert pianist is of course the insufficiency of strength of tone.’[17]

In 1885 Scriabin commenced lessons with the well-known Moscow teacher Nikolai Zverev (1832-1893); this was on the advice of Sergei Taneyev, with whom Scriabin was studying musical theory.[18] There were  great advantages to studying with Zverev: he disciplined pupils in technical practice and taught them how to work seriously, [19] he taught always with regard for sound technical methods such as freedom of arms/hands and wrists and musical fundamentals such as rhythm and musical literacy.[20] During the years 1880/81- 1890/91, Zverev’s  pupils included, besides Scriabin, Alexander Siloti, Sergei Rachmaninov, Konstantin Igumnov, Yelena Bekman-Shcherbina – the last three of whom were friends and colleagues throughout Scriabin’s later life, despite fundamental disagreements between Rachmaninov and Scriabin.

During his study with Zverev, Scriabin performed Schumann’s Papillons, op. 2, in the Great Hall of the Charitable Society with evident talent despite some inaccuracy.[21] Schumann’s music was of lasting appeal to him, and he taught the Davidsbündlertänze with passion at Moscow Conservatoire.[22] A feature of the Papillons and, more strongly, of the Davidsbündlertänze is that,  although they do not tell a story, they express thoughts and states of mind[23] – something essential to the mature Scriabin’s music. For his graduation recital at Moscow Conservatoire Scriabin prepared, as one of the works to be studied without the help of a professor, the Capriccio on the departure of a beloved brother of Bach – a further example of interest in a work expressing thoughts and states of mind.[24] In order to convey the content of such works an especially ‘speaking’ quality of phrasing and agogics, a special ‘intonation’, is necessary, and this we find in the playing of  Scriabin with its manifold agogic and tonal variety, what Konstantin Igumnov described as ‘a quality of phrasing, vivid to a rare degree’.[25]

Moscow Conservatoire

Scriabin entered the Conservatoire in January 1888, joining the class of Vassily Safonov, who had selected him as a student while he was still studying with Zverev.[26] There was a musical affinity between professor and student, as Mark Meichik recounts:

‘Safonov was a student of Leschetizky, but it should be said that the ‘Chopinesque’ style, lacking depth of sound, of Brassin, appealed to him more. For Scriabin the school of Safonov was perhaps the only practicable one.’ [27]

Safonov, who often worked with his pupil at home, recalled:

‘One time I happened to drop off. I wake up to some sort of charming sound. I didn’t even want to move, so as not to destroy the magic spell. It turned out to be his D flat major prelude… Scriabin internalised to a high degree what I always impress upon my students: ‘The less the piano sounds like itself under the fingers of a performer, the better it is.’ Much in his way of playing was my own. But he had a special variety of tone colours, a special ideally subtle use of the pedal; he possessed a rare gift, exclusively his own: with him the instrument breathed.’ [28]

In considering Safonov’s high estimation of instrumental colour and its linking with a sophisticated use of pedal it should be remembered that he was an important conductor as well as teacher of piano. If there is to be colour in piano playing it must first be present in the imagination of the performer.

Critical opinions of Scriabin’s playing of other composers’ works during his time as a student were  mixed. On 26. 2.1891 the critic of the Novosti dnya (News of the Day), Kruglikov, commented on a  concert in which Scriabin performed the first movement of  Henselt’s F minor concerto:

‘Messrs Presman and Samuelson, and all the more Mr Scriabin, played with precision and accurately, but without that brilliance which distinguished [Miss] Yuon, a student of Pabst, and without the talented quality of Mr Rakhmaninov…’[29]

However, two days later, the critic of the Moskovskie vedomosti [Moscow Gazette], reviewing the same concert, praised Scriabin’s calm and self-control, qualities not always shown in Scriabin’s  later concerts.[30] This later unreliability, and a high degree of stage fright,[31] were partly caused by his being, as he complained to a student, an intermittent pianist whose performances took place in the intervals between composing.[32] In the same paper on 21. 3. 1892 a perceptive critic observed of Scriabin’s performance of the Liszt concerto no. 1:

‘Perhaps he is fitted rather to more complex musical tasks, hardly to the task required by the concerto of Liszt which for the most part requires external brilliance.’[33]

Critical opinion of Liszt’s work may have changed, but this impression may usefully be compared with Sabaneyev’s less sympathetic account of his first hearing of Scriabin, playing the sonata  op. 101 of Beethoven, probably in 1891:

‘I remember that neither his personality nor his playing made any special impression on me.’[34]

In the strongest contrast is Ossovsky’s response to the young Scriabin’s playing of his own works in 1890-91:

‘Exquisite playing, captivating sound quality, a great, light technique, a refined, expressive, free and convincing performance, as befits the composer.’[35]

Comparing these reports, it seems clear that Scriabin adopted a quite different, more personal and involved manner when playing his own music. As is well-known, he performed  no other composer’s music throughout his playing career.

Here should also be mentioned the well-known and catastrophic hand injury which befell Scriabin in the summer of 1891, led to the writing of the tragic 1st sonata and the Nocturne and prelude for left hand op. 9, and to a huge upheaval in his personal philosophy and outlook on the world. Less well-known, perhaps, is that the injury may have had more than one cause. Engel’ recounts the story of Scriabin’s study of Liszt’s Don Juan Fantasia and Balakirev’s Islamey throughout the summer in emulation of his fellow student Joseph Lhévinne, and Presman tells of his return to the Conservatoire and Safonov’s horrified reaction.[36] However, Safonov’s version of the event as reported by Engel’ attributes the cause to Safonov’s demand for a deeper touch, burying the fingers so to speak in the keys, which Scriabin carried out to an alarming and harmful degree.[37]  Through determination, Scriabin made a recovery against the prognosis of doctors, but the hand was never quite the same again.[38] To the end of his life Scriabin was unconsciously exercising the fingers of his right hand on the table or on his knee, checking their action.[39] It is possible that an accident at the age of fourteen, in which the driver of a horse-drawn vehicle, most likely a cab, collided with Scriabin, causing him to  break his right clavicle and necessitating  a prolonged period of writing and playing with the left hand, may have rendered him vulnerable to the later, playing-induced injury.[40] 

The mature performer

Amongst the many descriptions by contemporaries of Scriabin’s playing, two stand out for their vividness, both of performance in a domestic situation. Alexander Pasternak, brother of Boris, wrote as follows:

‘ [… I felt and understood that his fingers produced sound, not by falling on the keys, not striking them, […] but on the contrary by pulling away from the key and with a light movement flying above the keys…he sat leaning back and with head thrown back.’[41]

This childhood memory of a well-informed musical amateur may be balanced by the professionally technical explanation of Mark Meichik:

‘As a pianist he was a typical product of the Safonov school, with a lifted wrist, freely positioned, only slightly curved fingers, a light but very quick and exact stroke of the lifted finger […] his use of the pedal was entirely unprecedented […] extremely precise and original, the result being a sort of special, transparent sonority of the instrument […] Scriabin actually mixed harmonies, creating by the use of the pedal unusual combinations of sounds[…]’[42]

A drawing by Leonid Pasternak inthe Scriabin Museum (ill. 1) catches the aspects of technique and posture described by Meichik and Alexander Pasternak. Experiment at the piano will show that a quick, light finger stroke with use of pedal and without pressure from the arm does indeed produce a ‘transparent sonority’ which also resembles the ‘bell-like sonority’ of which Alexander Pasternak wrote.[43]Skryabin by Pasternak

Ill. 1. Scriabin at the piano, by Leonid Pasternak (1909) (Scriabin Museum, Moscow)

Recordings on reproducing pianos

In 1908 and 1910 Scriabin made a number of piano roll recordings for the firms of Hupfeld and Welte. A number of the Welte recordings have been tape-recorded and transferred to LP and CD, for Melodiya,[44] and both Hupfeld and Welte recordings have been transcribed into staff and graphic notation by Pavel Lobanov. The staff notation has the double advantage of avoiding the vagaries of playback (particularly uneven speed) and enabling close examination and measurement of the performances. Though these early recordings have technical limitations in the areas of dynamic, tonal balancing and pedalling (in the sense that half-changes and other subtleties could not be shown), they are an invaluable guide to the  changes Scriabin made in his own published texts, to the rubato style of the composer and to his keyboard approach – whether notes were held by the pedal or the fingers, what articulation was employed, etc. The earlier Hupfeld rolls are cruder in their mechanism – though some accentuation was recorded, dynamics and pedalling were shown by typographical means on the roll and had to be added by the operator of the mechanism. However, they are  important in showing Scriabin dealing with larger-scale works – the sonatas nos. 2 and 3. The duplication on the two systems of certain works, in particular the Poème op. 32 no. 1, is a testimony to the correctness of the statement by Sabaneyev: ‘Scriabin plays his works not as they are written. But at the same time he plays them always in the same way, always with exactly the same deviations from his written texts.’[45] In this work the alterations in notes are identical and the tempo changes  extremely close in the two versions.

The changes in notes made by Scriabin are mainly of two kinds: later afterthoughts and differences from the published version arising from mistakes in the original printed version or mistaken corrections in later editions. The second sonata shows alterations of both kinds. At the end of the exposition of the first movement (b. 57) Scriabin plays the right hand chord not twice as printed but once only, suggesting that ties were omitted in the manuscript and first edition  (mus. ex. 1).[46]

Music ex 1

Mus. ex. 1. Sonata no. 2, 1st movement, b. 57. (Graph at top shows tempo, and upper staff shows Scriabin’s performance as transcribed from the roll; lower staff shows the printed text as in the Russian complete edition of 1948)

Bars 31 to 35 of the first movement and the parallel passage  b. 107-110 show one difference in the first section and a number of differences in the second, enriching the variation between the passages and giving the effect  described by contemporaries as quasi-improvisatory[47] – though Scriabin stated that he was against actual improvisation in performance [48] (music example 2 a-b).

music ex 2a

Mus. ex. 2a. Sonata no.2 , 1st movement, b. 31-35 (Articulation not shown. Variations in the transcription from the piano roll are shown  below the staff.)

mus ex2b

Mus. ex. 2b. Sonata no. 2, 1st movement, b. 107-110 (Articulation and variations shown as in 2a)

In the performance of this movement the variation of tempo illuminates the form, tempos increasing through sections as they build in drama and dropping dramatically to show formal divisions with clarity. This is also the case in the second movement, where the sections, such as the first sixteen bars, are played at a flying speed, but a Luftpause is made between them. At bar 94 (before the final return of the second subject) the gap is so long that the transcription shows it as an extra bar. (An analogous, though shorter, caesura is introduced in  the prelude op. 11 no. 14 at the end of bar 14, just before the headlong dash to the conclusion.) All this is radically different from the perpetuum mobile  manner adopted by some players, and confirms Sabaneyev’s statement that Scriabin’s rubato was ‘profoundly natural’.[49]

Scriabin makes textual alterations in this  movement also, including changing the upper note of the trill in the left hand, bar 69-70, from a to a sharp. This has a double effect: it softens the change from major to minor in bars 63-66 and 67-70 and the a sharp of bars 69-70 leads more naturally into the b of bar 71, making a smoother and more unified progression (see the harmonic reduction, music example 3).

mus ex3a

mus ex 3b

Mus. ex. 3. Sonata no. 2, 2nd movement, b. 63-71 (harmonic reduction) (Variation in the transcription shown below the staves.)

In the first movement of sonata no. 3, the impetuous movement forward through the paragraphs (again with relaxations to define sections) gives the mood an expression of impulsiveness highly characteristic of Scriabin. It is remarkable that here and in a piece like the Etude op. 8 no. 12, though the tempo range is wide, the average tempo is close to the printed one (in the sonata, Scriabin relaxes in the second subject group rather than adopting the faster printed tempo.) In bar 92, Scriabin plays b on the second beat in the right hand, as was printed in the first edition, rather than  g sharp – an alteration made in later editions to bring the phrase into uniformity with its other appearances. But Scriabin’s b avoids collision with the left hand’s tenor part (music example 4).

mus ex 4

Mus. ex. 4. Sonata no. 3, 1st movement, b. 92 (Above: as played by Scriabin and as published in Belaieff edition. Below: text as in the Moscow edition of 1924 [see Zhilyaev’s list of corrections, p. 4 of that edition] and the complete edition of 1948.)

As P. V. Lobanov suggests, comparison of Scriabin’s interpretation of this movement with the account by E. A. Bekmann-Shcherbina of her study of the work with him shows a close resemblance in approach.[50]

The impetous character of the second movement as performed by Scriabin is a guide to the equivocal character of this movement (slower on average than the printed tempo but with a very considerable quickening in the coda sections.) As with the first movement, the contrasting second idea is played slower than the first, rather than quicker as suggested in the printed edition.

In the prelude op. 11 no. 1, at the return of the first section (bar 19) later editions print d2 at the end of the groups to achieve identity with the opening. Scriabin plays c2 as in the manuscript and first edition. The alteration d2 to c2 gives finality to this motive, and indeed Scriabin emphasises this quality with extra note attacks and dramatic pauses – Luftpausen within a constant motion, similar to those in the 2nd sonata finale.

A third type of alteration in text is rarer, and exists in pieces which were perhaps played very frequently in concert. A number of simplifications are adopted in the etude op. 8 no. 12, which certainly aid the impulsive onward movement of the performance. In contemporary concert conditions it seems impossible to adopt these. (Scriabin mentioned to Sabaneyev, possibly as late as 1913, that he was for the first time learning to play certain sections of the 4th sonata as written; he had previously sacrificed left hand details to achieve the tempo ‘on the border of the possible’ he wished for.[51]) It is remarkable that Scriabin’s performance of the Etude coincides in some important elements with the much later ones recorded by Horowitz, most notably the non f  beginning and the headlong final accelerando.[52]

A very beautiful reversal of movement in the left hand arpeggio at bar 10 in the Poème op. 32 no.1 is a strong candidate for adoption in present day performances, leading expressively and with a sense of ‘upsurge’  into the high D sharp of the following bar. We may say that this partially confirms the statement of Y. Engel’ that Scriabin’s alterations to his text were ‘always for the better’.[53] The rubato in the middle section of this piece is most remarkable and radically different from most conventional performances: after a hesitant start with a long ‘resounding rest’ in bars 15 and 16 a sustained accelerando is made until bar 20. This confirms a pencil note in Scriabin’s hand at bar 19 in a printed copy held at the Scriabin museum: ‘ardently quickening’.[54]

These ‘resounding rests’ suggest the ‘flying’ gesture of the hand recorded in a portrait   in the Scriabin Museum attributed to Kustodiev (ill. 2). This allowed the music to ‘breathe’, defining such moments of rubato gesturally for player and audience. An example of such gesture in playing  may be deduced in the prelude op. 22 no. 1. Here the tempo and dynamic are considerably increased and the notes are ‘pulled out’ of the keyboard (compare the account by Pasternak) instead of being played legato as in the printed version. As Pavel Lobanov comments, Scriabin has moved some way from his original conception of the prelude. The tightening of the written rhythm  seems a demonstration of another ‘law’ stated by Scriabin to Sabaneyev:

‘After all, you can distort the rhythm as strongly as you like, but you must always make the listener feel that is the rhythm from which it came.’[55]

It should be mentioned, however, that in other places (e.g. the Etude op. 8 no. 12 and the first movement of Sonata no.3) rhythms are indeed altered and broadened for emphasis.

9 kustodiev_2

Ill. 2. Scriabin performing on 2nd April 1915 in St. Petersburg (his last recital) Attributed to B. Kustodiev. Scriabin Museum, Moscow

Non-synchronisation of voices is a further type of rubato governed by the need for  clarity and the law of the hierarchy of voices. The prelude op 11 no. 13 is a case particularly rich in examples: melody notes are anticipated (rarer than the habit of anticipating the left hand, and giving urgency to the expression) and where two voices sing alone together there is a gentle arpeggiation. This example also shows the free use of pedal to help with legato, freeing the hands for flexibility and colourfulness of expression, a ‘phrasing of rare vividness’.

The performance of Désir op. 57 no. 1 is also radically different from the dreamy mood evoked by many players. The impulsive rubatos and vehement manner of arpeggiation, whereby many chords are rearranged and at the climax the bass note is delayed till the end of the arpeggiation, convey a sense of urgency which is characteristically Scriabinesque.

To return to the prelude op. 11 no. 1,  a sophisticated and musically dictated technical process can be observed from the transcription. The long lines are not physically played legato, though the pedal covers gaps to some extent. Upbeat notes are emphasised by slight separation; elsewhere, overlapping of the fingers shows a desire for harmonic unity. Phrase endings are shown by a natural Luftpause.

The cumulative effect of these details of Scriabin’s performance is to show the truth of Sabaneyev’s saying: ‘Scriabin’s vision is unified and unequivocal, but his notation is incomplete.’[56] It has only been possible to give a few examples here. The transcriptions are an inestimable resource which richly reward study. The present writer suggests that such study should be started by listening to the recordings with the transcriptions to hand. The graphics help explain what is happening in the performance,  and the experience will facilitate further reading of the transcriptions themselves. Such study brings with it a conviction that Scriabin’s performances, far from being arbitrary, were derived from and illuminate the content of his music – ‘as befits the composer’.

Acknowledgements: grateful thanks are due to the following:

Valentina Rubtsova, head of research at Scriabin Memorial Museum and editor of Uchënie Zapiski

Pavel Lobanov, senior researcher, Scriabin Memorial Museum (retired)

Andrei Golovin, composer, Moscow

Professor Vladimir Tropp, professor of piano at Moscow Conservatoire and Gnesin Academy

Evgeny Zhivtsov, chief editor, and the staff of the Taneyev research library, Moscow Conservatoire

Author’s Note: the book by Anatole Leikin, The performing style of Alexander Scriabin, Ashgate, 2011, which was in the press while the above article was written, covers the whole field very comprehensively, as well as reproducing many of Pavel Lobanov’s transcriptions – it is recommended as an invaluable resource for those who wish to study this subject thoroughly.

[1] A. B.Gol’denveizer, Aleksandr Nikolaevich Skryabin (Iz moikh vospominanii) [from my reminiscences], in: A. S. Scriabin, compiler, A. N. Skryabin v prostranstrakh XX veka [Scriabin in the expanses of the 20th century], Moscow 2009, p.298.

[2] Letter to  O. I. Monighetti, 7th July, 1906. Manuscript, Scriabin Memorial Museum. Quoted from: A. Al’shvang, Zhizn‘ i tvorchestvo  A. N. Skryabina [life and work of Scriabin], in S. Pavchinsky, compiler, A. N. Skryabin. Sbornik statei [anthology of articles], Moscow, 1973, p. 94-5. It should be remembered that in the previous year Scriabin and Vera Ivanovna had parted, and that Scriabin was himself irritated by Vera Ivanovna’s concert performances of his works under her married name (her maiden name was Isakovich). ‘He physically could could not bear the way she played them.’ Gol’denveizer, op.cit., p. 297. Goldenweiser (1875-1961) was a prominent pianist and a long-standing professor of Moscow Conservatoire.

[3]A.V. Ossovskii, Skryabin. Kharakteristika tvorchestva i lichnye vospominaniya [characteristics of creative work and personal reminiscences], from: A. S. Scriabin, compiler, op.cit.. p. 324. The performance, in Scriabin’s flat, took place in 1911. Ossovsky (1871-1957), a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov, was a highly regarded writer on music.

[4] The Times, March 16th, 1914.

[5] Pavel Lobanov, A.N. Skryabin – interpretator svoikh kompozitsii  [Scriabin as interpreter of his own works] Moscow 1995. Aleksandr Skryabin: Izbrannye sochineniya v dvukh vypuskakh [selected works in two issues], Moscow 1998. Scriabin: Sonata no. 2 – Мoscow, 2007. Sonata no. 3, Moscow, Muzyka, 2010.  See also P Lobanov: Rasshifrovka zvukozapisei v analize tvorchestva pianistov.[The transcription of sound recordings in the analysys of the creative work of pianists.] in: Uchënie zapiski vol. 4, Мoscow, 2002. A. Latanza, Avtorskie zapisi Aleksandra Skryabina na mekhanicheskikh fortepiano [The composer’s recordings of Alexander Scriabin on mechanical pianos] in Uchënie zapiski vol. 3, Moscow, 1998.

[6] L. L. Sabaneyev: Skryabin, Moscow, 1916/1923, p.143.

[7] P. V. Lobanov, A.N. Skryabin – interpretator,  p.10 .

[8]  op. cit., p. 8. Sabaneyev, Skryabin, p.139.

[9] V. V. Rubtsova, Aleksandr Nikolaevich Skryabin, Moscow, 1989, p. 20-21. E. Polishchuk, T. Rybakova, Rod khudozhnikov Shchetininikh [genealogy of the artist family Shchetinin] in Uchënie zapiski vol. 3, p. 100-101.

[10] L. A . Scriabina, Vospominaniya [Reminiscences], in Aleksandr Nikolaevich Skryabin 1915-1940. Sbornik k 25-letiyu so dnya smerti [anthology for the 25th anniversary of the day of his death] Moscow/Leningrad, 1940, p.11.

[11] op. cit. p. 10, 9.

[12] Yu. Engel’, A. N. Skryabin. Biograficheskii ocherk [outline of a biography], in Muzykal’nyi sovremennik [Musical Contemporary] 1916, no. 4-5, p. 13, 17.

[13] I. Bélza, Aleksandr Nikolaevich Skryabin, Мoscow, 1987, p. 49-51.

[14] L. L. Sabaneyev, Skryabin, p.137.

[15] op. cit. p.139.

[16] Yu. Engel’, A. N. Skryabin. Biograficheskii ocherk, p. 17.

[17] Emil Medtner, review of concert 16. 2. 1913, Muzyka 2/III 1913 No.119, p. 163.

[18] L. A . Skryabina, Vospominaniya, p.13.

[19] Yu. Engel’: A. N. Skryabin. Biograficheskii ocherk. p. 19.

[20] M. L. Presman: Ugolok muzykal’noi Moskvy vosmydesyatix godov [A corner of musical Moscow in the ‘eighties], in Z. Apetyan, compiler: Vospominaniya o Rakhmaninove [Reminiscences of Rachmaninov], Mosocow, 1961, vol. 1 p.161-162.

[21]  L. A . Skryabina, Vospominaniya,  p. 13.

[22] M. Nemenova-Lunts: ‘A.N. Skryabin-pedagog’ [Scriabin as teacher], in Sovetskaya Muzyka 1948, vol. 5, p. 58-59.

[23] Robert Schumann, letter to his family, 17.4.1832, in Clara Schumann, ed: Jugendbriefe von Robert Schumann, Leipzig, 1886, p. 166-167. Letter to Clara Wieck, 6.2.1838, in B. Litzmann, Clara Schumann. Ein Künstlerleben, Leipzig, 1903 p. 179.

[24] M. P. Pryashnikova, O. M. Tompakova, Letopis‘ zhizni i tvorchestva A. N. Skryabina [Chronicle of the life and work of A. N. Scriabin], Moscow, 1985, p. 37.

[25] Quoted from E. N. Rudakova, compiler, Aleksandr Nikolaevich Skryabin, Мoscow, 1979/1980 p. 127.

[26] Yu. Engel’: A. N. Skryabin. Biograficheskii ocherk.  p. 26.

[27] Mark Meichik, Skryabin, Мoscow, 1935, p. 9. Safonov studied with Louis Brassin (1840-1884), a pupil of Moscheles, from 1879. L. L. Tumarinson, B. Rozenfeld, compilers, Letopis’ zhizni i tvorchestva V. I. Safonova [Chronicle of the life and creative work of V. I. Safonov], Moscow, 2009, p. 51.

[28] Yu. Engel’: A. N. Skryabin. Biograficheskii ocherk, p. 26-27.

[29] M. P. Pryashnikova, O. M. Tompakova, Letopis‘ zhizni i tvorchestva A. N. Skryabina, p.  32.

[30] Loc. cit.

[31] L. L. Sabaneyev, Vospominaniya o Skryabine [Reminiscences of Scriabin], Moscow, 1925/2003, p.149.

[32] M. Nemenova-Lunts: ‘A.N. Skryabin-pedagog’, p. 60.

[33] M. P. Pryashnikova, O. M. Tompakova, Letopis  zhizni i tvorchestva A. N. Skryabina, p.37.

[34] L.L. Sabaneyev, Skryabin, p.11.

[35] A.V. Ossovskii, Skryabin. Kharakteristika tvorchestva i lichnye vospominaniya, p. 318.

[36] M. Presman, Vospominaniya [Reminiscences], in Aleksandr Nikolaevich Skryabin 1915-1940, p. 34.

[37] Yu. Engel’: A. N. Skryabin. Biograficheskii ocherk, p. 26.

[38] Op. cit., p. 27.

[39] A.V. Ossovskii, Scriabin. Kharakteristika tvorchestva i lichnye vospominaniya, p. 326.

[40] L. A . Scriabina, Vospominaniya.  – C. 13.

[41] A. L. Pasternak, ‘Leto 1903 g.‘ [Summer 1903], in Novyi mir vol. XLVIII No. 1,1972, p.209. [Included in English translation in  Alexander Pasternak, A Vanished Present ,Oxford, 1984, p.79.]

[42] M. Meichik, Vospominaniya o Skryabine [Reminiscences of Scriabin]. Typescript, 1941, Scriabin Museum archive, p. 26-28.

[43] A. L. Pasternak, ‘Leto 1903 g.‘ p. 210.

[44] A more recent recording, made by Ken Caswell, is available on Alexander Scriabin: The Composer as Pianist (Pierian 0018).

[45] L. L. Sabaneyev, Scriabin, p. 139.

[46] [footnote added by V. V. Rubtsova, editor of Uchëniye zapiski:] It is possible that ties were put into the manuscript by Scriabin. We can neither refute nor affirm this, as the manuscript has not survived.

[47] Tatyana Shaborkina quotes, unfortunately without giving a source, a review stating:  ‘His playing began to resemble the most inspired improvisation’ .T. Shaborkina, Zametki o Skryabine-ispolnitele  [Remarks on Scriabin as a performer], in Aleksandr Nikolaevich Skryabin 1915-1940, p. 220.

[48] L. L. Sabaneyev, Vospominaniya o Skryabine [Memoirs of Scriabin], Moscow 1925/2003, p. 93.

[49] L. L. Sabaneyev, Skryabin , p. 134.

[50] E. A. Bekman-Shcherbina, Moi vospominaniya [My Reminiscences], Moscow, 1982, p. 98-99.

[51] L. L. Sabaneyev, Reminiscences of Scriabin, p. 296-297.

[52] E.g. the1962 performance included in the CD Horowitz plays Scriabin, Sony 0904452001.

[53] Quoted from: A. Al’shvang, Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo A. N. Skryabina, p. 92.

[54] P. V. Lobanov, A.N. Skryabin – interpretator, p.113.

[55] L. L. Sabaneyev, Reminiscences of Scriabin, p. 298.

[56] L.L. Sabaneyev, Skryabin, p. 139.