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September 8, 2009

Music we've been missing (Part 9): Scriabin

The name of Alexander Scriabin should appear more frequently on programs. His solo piano music turns up on recitals with some freqeuncy, I know, but his symphonically inclined works haven't received the attention they should around here -- at least not during my nine years in Baltimore. It's certainly high time we had an opportunity to plunge into that great orgy of sound, "The Poem of Ecstasy," not to mention the Symphony No. 3 ("The Divine Poem").

Scriabin had an extraordinary sense of tone color that influenced many others, and he knew how to create vivid musical structures. There's nothing quite like the great washes of sound he could unleash in his sumptuous orchestral scores. So let's get some Scriabin flowing here soon -- and let the more exposed Russian composers have a rest.

Here's a taste of "The Poem of Ecstasy":

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)


Great to get tuned in to unfamiliar music--and really love it.The Scriabin Ecstasy Poem is a gem. Thanx for expanding our minds. The Baltimore Sun has some good stuff going for it.

You're too kind. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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