Vanechkina I.L.

Leonid Sabaneyev in "Reminiscences on Scriabin" inserted a minute account of how Scriabin in 1913, by his request, had made a detailed written instructions in the margins of "Prometheus" score copy, regarding colors and, especially, lighting images he meant for "Luce" part. As it is known, the published original "Prometheus" score contained no directions of this kind [1, pp.199-205]. When Sabaneyev left to emigration, he took this unique copy with him, and for a long time it was said to be lost. The score was found again about twenty years ago, in the National Library in Paris (the reference to its present location firstly appeared in the Proceedings of Scriabin symposium in Graz, Austria, 1980 [2]). Shortly after we informed Russian readers about the find, in our monography on Scriabin [3, pp.122,155]. Three years later, Sriabin Museum in Moscow had asquired the facsimile copy of the above score and then the analytical account by O.Tompakova had been published in Museum's book, with a statement that it means revolutionary change in our understanding of Scriabin's light-music ideas [4, p.47].

We expected much from the acquaintance with that score too. At the same time we understood that Sabaneyev, having the precious document at hand for many years, surely would use these data in some way. Indeed, telling about "Prometheus" and Scriabin's intentions on "Luce" part, he wrote: "In his speech there began to appear not colors only, but the entire "images of colors", lightnings, rays, mists, clouds. One could imagine that the whole lighting symphony of colors and shapes were developing before his eyes" [1, p.104]. Many thanks to Hakon Austbo who provided us with a copy - we wanted very much to know what visual images Scriabin actually had in mind for "Luce" part, since we more than once performed "Prometheus" with lighting.

Regarding colors, our analysis has shown long ago already that "Luce" consists of two distinct parts: a "mobile" one, coloring harmonies, and "slow" one, reflecting tonal scheme (in modern sense of the word "tonality"). This was confirmed by one else impotant document - another copy of "Prometheus", dated of the same period, in which Scriabin had left directions (again in words) of what colors are hidden behind the "Luce" note signs (he made this copy for the conductor I.Micklashevsky). That is why, after careful checking the results of our analysis, we ventured surprising conclusion, which goes beyond "light symphony" subject: the note line of "Luce" is a clue to comprehension of Scriabin's harmonies of his later period. (Because the notes of "Luce" are none other than fundamentals of harmonies - in "mobil" part, and tonalities - in a "slow" part).

We have come to that conclusion by assuming (as well as Sabaneyev and many other researchers did) that genesis of "Luce" is based upon Scriabin's scheme of correspondence between circle of fifths and cirle of colors. Our monography presents three versions of that scheme from Sabaneyev's works of different years, and two more - by Ch.Mayers and M.A.Scriabina. All of them follow one and the same locic (laying aside some synonimic alterations).

The "table of lights", which Scriabin drew in the margins of "Parisian" score, does not differ significantly from these versions: C, G, D, A, E, H, Fis-Ges, Des, As, Es, B, F, C. It was drawn in a hurry, some letters are illegible (remember where it took place - in the restoraunt "Prague"). And in Russia we had dealt with the reprint, not the original score. So it happened, our colleague from Scriabin Museum had read the next to last "F" in Scriabin's list erroneously as "G" (though, as one can see, "G" is present already at the beginning, next to "C"). More than that, she had read the following Scriabin's words "the circle is closed" as "the circle is coming apart" (both phrases in Russian careless writing are rather alike) [4, p.47]. How on Earth it can "coming apart" if it begins with "C" and ends with the same "C"? Has not she noticed, that her variant of the circle of 12 tonalities missed "F", while "G" is duplicated? And when she wrote then "the circle is coming apart, cosmos is infinite" [4, p.51], one might feel embarrassed, knowing that nice phrase is constructed on the error. Any specialist on "Prometheus", familiar with the genesis of "Luce" and, excuse me, the structure of circle of fifths, hardly would make such mistake (even foreign specialists have read and translated the text right!). Unfortunately, in this case the mistake had led to the following conclusion: "It is easy to notice sharp contrast of that, really Scriabin's version, to all others" (!) Alas, it's not true, the manuscripts should be read more carefully...

It seems that due to the these mistakes O.Tompakova ventured one more unexpected and rather incomprehensible discovery in her next book: "Scriabin, being "color hearing" person, precisely linked THIS OR THAT CIRCLE of tonalities and harmonies with a certain color scale" [5, p.7] (italics is mine - I.V.). Here the word "that" probably relates to the above erroneously read circle of fifths. Beside that, she took for "counterpoint" the mess of colors raised by that mistake, when she wrote: "Music and light in "Prometheus" do not go parallel each other" [6, p.36]. But Scriabin himself warned: "I aimed to parellelism in "Prometheus""! [1, p.13]. From the same origin go her speculations on the possible connections between light and timbre - indeed, there are some, but only in that moments when the change of timbre occurs simultaneously with the change of tonality (and therefore color).

Let's lay further details aside. It is clear, that false starting point, caused by mistaken reading of Scriabin's notes, inevitably would obscure even the obvious merits of the materials under discussion. We may agree, from the very first look at the score copy, that Scriabin's remarks demonstrate his favoring of figurative attribution of colors (not breaking the limits of the whole scheme, but only in their titles and other nuances). He added to color's names such epithets as "moonly', "transparent", "ghastly", "strange", "more mild", "more clear", etc. And, first of all, one can see Scriabin's desire to make the lighting material adequate to music, regarding the complexity of their arrangement (which results in such remarks as "waving" and "glimmer" of the light; "flashes", "lightnings", "the fire is flaming up", "bloody haze", "cascades of fire", "fire", "sparkles of fire", "some sharp forms", "wavy, trembling and pale-reddish", "immediate darkness", "the thinnest streams of light", "some lighting shapes", "fantastic ripple", "the circles and sparkles moving outwards, like waves in the pond", "the ray is cutting through the darkness", "the sun is flaming up", "firework", "the gleams and tongues of the flame", "black lightnings" and so on).

It is obvious, that all these images, more than once repeating, developing, meet thematic development of the music and philosophic program of composition. By the way, similar links can be traced with regards to colors -- for all the sketchiness of the above correspondences, the internal locic of color's changes (from "spirit" ones to "material" and back to "spirit") is determined here by the logic of tonality-harmony development (having the same structure, "spirit-matter-Spirit").

Even before this score copy had become known, a good many light-musical performers did not restrict themselves to simple reproduction of the existing "Luce", which refers to colors only. They introduced into performance the shapes and moving of light. Surprisingly enough, their lighting arrangements quite often appeared to be in strong accord with Scriabin's remarks. From other side, this is not very astonishing, for these coincidences were conditioned by one and the same music. And now, having the score which is sanctified by the composer with his own hand, any talented producer has got an opportunity to use author's "hints" for more complex and fine arrangements of lighting substance. As for general historic and theoretical aspects, the discovery of "Parisian" score did not cause any significant revolution, just as it should be expected. It's essential content had been dissolved formely in a numerous Sabaneyev's publications and therefore was actually available for the specialists.


The Museum of A.N.Scriabin have made a lot (and going on now) for collection and preservation of documental materials, and for popularization of the ideas of grear composer. At the most hard present conditions this small collective put into common circulation things that were hidden in archieves for many years. They are brilliant in the field of biography, bibliography, history, iconography, educational activity. But if the Museum has the intention to include in the sphere of its interest analytical science, and if they need assistance of a proper specialists - surely they would be greatly welcome. As one can guess, for the broad audience, for almost all people, the Scriabin Museum is not only the "primary source" of documents, but also the most competent organization. Therefore the Museum bears great responsibility, as well as the other researchers of Scriabin's heritage do.

How regretfull the slips might be, one can judge by the following example. In O.Tompakova's book, after the story about Scriabin's experiments with 12 colored bulbs we suddenly meet: "ALL ATTEMPTS TO PERFOM "PROMETHEUS" WITH LIGHTING WERE UNSUCCESFUL AS YET. Maybe, this will become possible due to unwearying Museum's search" [6, p.36]. And further once again the reference to the "mysteries" of Parisian score. The statement in italics is far from reality. This proves again, that "unwearying search", with no assistance of specialists, is not only fruitless, but leads to confusion.


  1. Sabaneyev L., "Reminescences on Scriabin". - Moscow: Muzsector Gosizdata, 1925 [in Russian].
  2. Alexander Scriabin, Hrsg. von O.Kolleritz. - Graz, 1980.
  3. Vanechkina I., Galeyev B., "Poem of Fire (on the conception of light-music synthesis by A.N. Scriabin)". - Kazan: KGU Publ., 1981 [in Russian].
  4. Tompakova O., "On the newly found score". - In: Transactions of Scriabin Museum, No.3. - Moscow: Scriabin Museum Publ., 1998 [in Russian].
  5. Tompakova O., "Calling to light: Alexander Scriabin in England". - Moscow: Muzyka, 1999 [in Russian].
  6. Tompakova O., "Scriabin and Moscow art life at the end of XIX - beginnng of XX centuries. New Trends". - Moscow: Muzyka, 1997 [in Russian].

Published in Conference "Prometheus-2000". Collected theses. - Kazan: FEN, 2000. - pp.51-54