Divinely-Inspired Composers of Music (Music and the Soul, cap. 24)



Achieved Mystics : Scriabin and Messiaen


pp. 334-9 Alexander Scriabin

p. 334

"Scriabin was one of the few composers in the history of Western music with an intimate knowledge of esoteric traditions {"He embraced Helen Blavatsky's Theosophy." ("ANS--B")} and a desire to express this knowledge through music. ... Scriabin believed [Schloezer 1987, p. 218] himself to be a missionary "of superior powers" who "was sent to earth to reveal the secret truth in its various aspects for the benefit of humanity." He was to be "a custodian and restorer of ancient wisdom.""

p. 335

"Schloezer made the insightful remark that all of Scriabin's later large-scale works

[quoted from Schloezer 1987, p. 97 :] are built according to a uniform succession of states : ... it is built on a series of upswings, with each successive wave rising higher and higher toward a final effort, liberation, and ecstasy."

"Schloezer's description of Scriabin's music, in terms of "a series of upswings" and "successive" waves matches my definition of macrorhythmically composed music. It also implies that Scriabin's music traverses the range ... from sublime to ecstatic. ... Scriabin's music is ... visionary ... in its attempt to picture such things as physical and spiritual lovemaking, as in the Poem of Ecstasy. ...

Schloezer said [1987, p. 332] that in Scriabin's music there two "contrasting elements." One is "... caressing, erotic; the other, ... winged, luminous." ... In the tradition of Tantra, these two "contrasting elements" are Shiva {S`iva} and Shakti {S`akti}. Shakti, as the active principle, is "... winged, luminous," while

p. 336

Shiva, as the passive, is "... caressing, erotic." Scriabin ... expressed the union of Shiva and Shakti in music -- the result of which, in Tantra, is not merely sexual pleasure, but ... spiritual transcendence."

"The Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54, [AS:PE] is one of Scriabin's mystical masterpieces. It begins in the visionary realm ... . ... The climax of the piece is a glorious example of the self-transcending ecstasy ..., as well as a musical illustration of sexual and spiritual orgasm [!], both personal and universal, like the union of Tantric devotees embodying the embrace of Shiva and Shakti.

Prometheus, the Poem of Fire, Op. 60, [AS:PPF] is Scriabin's other mystical masterpiece. In involves a concerto ... and a tastiera per luce ("light keyboard"), which is intended to suffuse the concert hall with various colors of light as the piece progresses. This multimedia work, completed in 1910, ... begins in the magic and mystery ... and ends in the ecstasy ... . One writer has called [Peacock 1985, p. 503] it "two symphonies to be played concurrently," "one of music, the other of light." ...

The harmonies and melodies of the Eighth Sonata, Op. 66, according to Scriabin [Bowers 1969, vol. 2, p. 244], are derived from five melodic fragments ... intended ... to represent the five elements of yogic {as of Pythagorean and Platonic} philosophy : "earth, air, fire, water, and the mystical ether." The combination of themes in the compositional process would provide a mystical parallel to the creation of the material world from the elements."

p. 337

"Scriabin's most terrifying music is intended to exorcise ... . The composer "compels" these forces "to assume an image of divinity, thus divesting them of malevolent power and elevating them to a superior state of being." [Schloezer 1987, p. 248]

{This is the Vajra-yana ritual (often described in Bodish legends) of converting hostile, malevolent divinities into beneficial, benevolent ones.}

Music of this nature ... ends in the transcendent ecstasy ... . Scriabin described [Bowers 1969, vol. 2, p. 245] the Tenth Sonata, Op. 70, which is my favorite, as "... born from the sun ... the sun's kisses." Perhaps he was thinking of the multihued iridescence ... . The sonata closes in a radiant halo of trills -- ... akin to the yogic ... samadhi."

p. 338

"Here is a description of the Prefatory Action, assembled from numerous remarks made by Scriabin ... :

[quoted from Bowers 1969, vol. 2, p. 253 :] Bells suspended from clouds in the sky {cf. peals of thundre from thundre-clouds in the sky} would summon spectators from all over the world. The performance was to take place in a half-temple {cf. Hellenic semi-circular theatres} built in India. A reflecting pool of water would complete the ... half-circle stage. Spectators would sit in tiers across the water. ... The choreography would include ... odors of ... pleasant perfumes ..., frankincense and and myrrh. ... Lights, fires, and constantly changing lighting effects would pervade the cast and audience, each to number in the thousands."

"The Mysterium was to be ... lasting for seven days, and leading, through ecstasy, to ... transfiguration onto a higher plane. ...

p. 339

The apocalyptic ... Mysterium belongs to ... the higher levels of spiritual evolution that take place in nonphysical reality."

"ANS--B" = "Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin -- Biography". http://www.scriabinsociety.com/biography.html

Schloezer 1987 = Boris de Schloezer (transl. by Nicolas Slonimsky) : Scriabin : Artist and Mystic. Berkeley : U of CA Pr.

Peacock 1985 = Kenneth Peacock : "Synaesthetic Perception : Alexander Scriabin's Color Hearing". MUSIC PERCEPTION 2:483-505.

Bowers 1969 = Faubion Bowers : Scriabin : a Biography of the Russian Composer. 2 voll. Tokyo : Kodansha Internat.

Scriabin's Mysterium on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvOsH7jw8Zw

AS:PE = audio of Scriabin's Poe:m of Ecstasy https://play.spotify.com/album/2LWPzHbeR7y8T64OWGJD4B

AS:PPF = audio of Scriabin's Prometheus the Poe:m of Fire https://play.spotify.com/album/2VI2ZxADQG8ZuLwBE8mhPX/5oJ8FIFNYEfViFcWnGVerk

{"'we cannot overlook the eschatological mentality of the pre-revolutionary period' in which Scriabin's Mysterium was conceived, at the time when Mallarme' was actively engaged in preparing Le Livre" (WFNOI 5, p. 105). "The personal and political basis of Mallarme's sympathy with the anarchists is discussed ... in Paula Gilbert Lewis, The Aesthetics of Ste'phane Mallarme' in Relation to His Public (London : Associated University Presses, 1976), pp. 18-19, 78-79)." (WFNOI, p. 105, fn. 3)}

WFNOI = Louis Wirth Marvick : Waking the Face that No One is : A Study in the Musical Context of Symbolist Poetics. Rodopi, Amsterdam, 2004. http://books.google.com/books?id=UdT5NBjIISoC&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq=

pp. 338-40 [AN:APM] redincarnation on Earth of Alexander Scriabin

p. 338

"Scriabin's premature death, at forty-three ..., has long been an object of speculation by esotericists. Cyril Scott felt that it was a result of his having attempted to channel deva-inspired music

without proper guidance or training."

{The life-saving "proper guidance or training" would have been indoctrination in the 6 dars`an.a-s (Nyaya, Vais`es.ika, Sam-khya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Veda-anta), along with undergoing tantrik diks.a ('consecration').}

p. 339

"The history of Scriabin ... was not closed by the composer's death in 1915. There was to be another chapter ... .

... a Russian composer by the name of Alexander Nemtin (1936-1999) had attempted to complete ... Scriabin's Prefatory {/prae-fa-t-/ 'praevious-spoken'} Action from the sketches left behind by the composer at his death.

The record company that issued ... this piece placed a photograph of ... Nemtin next to one of ... Scriabin ... . There was an eerie resemblance ..., the implication was that Nemtin was the reincarnation of Scriabin, who had come back to finish his last great work. ... In twenty-five years of work, Nemtin had produced more than two and a half hours of music from a mere fifty-four pages of musical sketches by Skriabin. ["Skriabin, Preparation for the Final Mystery, realized by Alexander Nemtin, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy (London/Decca 466329)"] ...

`p. 340

Preparation for the Final Mystery provides one of the most prolonged opportunities for exposure to the consciousness-expanding ... in the history of Western music.

The usefulness of Scriabin's music for the yoga of listening lies in how it opens us up to the expanded consciousness ... of transcendental longing for union with the divine, which can motivate us inwardly to prepare ourselves for such a union. ...

Preparation for the Final Mystery may be too much of a good thing ... . ... One potential problem ... is that prolonged exposure to transcendental longing

can produce an eagerness to leave the body and the physical world behind.

{This "eagerness to leave the body and the physical world behind" is fulfilled already for each person every night, in dreams during sleep. If hearing of music can enhance one's understanding and valuation of dreams, then the utility of such music is vast, for it is encouraging our main readily feasible means of communicating with supernatural worlds (namely, via dreaming). [To die is no means of leaving the material world behind, because immediate metempsychosis is the consequence of mere death of the material body.]}

When such an approach is balanced, as in Tantra, with practices that increase our willingness to be present in the body and on the planet, we ... achieve that union."

{This is possible because the literature of the tantra (including also, agama, nigama, and pan~ca-ratra) is able to shew how the divine is immanent in the material body and in the natural material world.}

AN:APM = audio of Nemtin's Acta Prealable to Mysterium https://play.spotify.com/search/Alexander%20Nemtin

pp. 341-3 Olivier Messiaen

p. 341

"The works that Messiaen produced ... from the late 1920s to the late 1940s are the most accessible and enjoyable. These include ... Le banquet ce'leste (The Celestial Banquet) ... and Les corps glorieux (The Glorious Bodies)."[M:CG]

"Visions de l'Amen ...

{an allusion to "the Amen, the faithfull and true witnesse" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 3:14)}

is one of the few pieces by Messiaen likely to appeal to listeners from beginning to end. It includes mystical visions of ... angels, saints, ... stars, the rings of Saturn, ... and ... is usually more jubilant ... than beastly."

p. 342

"The Turangalila-symphonie ... is one of the masterworks of mid-twentieth-century music. The word Turangalila comes from Sanskrit and means the divine play of time ... in the cosmos, including ... "the spiritual-physical union of love."" (Hayes 1995, p. 191) [M:T-LS]

p. 343

"Two works of the composer's last years bring back some of the splendor ... of his pre-1950 music : E'clairs sur l'au-dela` (Illuminations of the Beyond) [M:EAD], Messiaen's last completed work; and Concert a` quatre (Concerto for Four), which he was working on when he died".

Apokalupsis of Ioannes 3:14 http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1611_Revelation-3-14/

Hayes 1995 = Malcolm Hayes : "Instrumental and Choral Works to 1948". In :- Peter Hill (ed.) : The Messiaen Companion. Portland : Amadeus Pr.

M:CG = audio of Messiaen's Les corps glorieux https://play.spotify.com/album/3W8AdxINVEo5k2mY2SY3PH

M:T-LS = audio of Messiaen's Turanga-lila Symphony https://play.spotify.com/album/265MuQrF5WhP2vCzO4sKbj & https://play.spotify.com/album/0YaaZSZLFh5Sqf8LtNaOFK & https://play.spotify.com/album/2E2q1z6aFbuRODbYhReoIU

M:EAD = audio of Messiaen's E'clairs sur l'au-dela` https://play.spotify.com/album/7cu0CXOlsPg7NUsQaleWAz

pp. 344-8 Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time

p. 344

"Messiaen's most popular piece is his Quatour [sic : read "Quatuor"] pour la Fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of Time) ... . [M:QuFT] The work was composed ... while Messiaen, having been captured ..., was interned ... in Silesia ... . Messiaen was lucky that the commanding officer in charge of the camp was a music lover. ... Legend has it that the piece was premiered in the camp ... . Messiaen's Quartet is dedicated to the rainbow-haloed angel who appears during the Apocalypse ... (Revelation 10:1-7). ... The eight movements of the Quartet for the End of Time depict a musical ascent to heaven. ... An angelic dance of ... ecstasy breaks out ...; after which ... tangled up in the rainbows of the apocalyptic angel ..., we're gradually lifted toward heaven ... . The psychic signatures of the eight movements of the Quartet are unusually stable ... . I recommend listening to this work ..., one movement at a time. ...

p. 345

The first movement of the Quartet for the End of Time is entitled "Liturgie de cristal" ("Crystal Liturgy"). ... We're on Earth ... . ...

The second movement is called "Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps" ("Vocalise for the Angel Who Announces the End of Time"). ... The music is violent and dramatic ... . ... Messiaen described ... the vocalise as "far-away chimes" intended to represent "the impalpable harmonies of heaven." As I mentioned in chapter 15, I once heard chimes like these in one of my

p. 346

adventures in consciousness, in which I was told that they represented the nearly inaudible call of the Source to align ourselves and journey toward oneness with it.

The third movement ... is called

"Abi^me des oiseaux" ("Abyss of the Birds").

{This is an allusion to the Qlippo^t of the Qabbalah : ["D&A"] "broken shells of previous sephiroth, accumulated in the Abyss." "Qlippoth ... are .. the left-over egg shells after the bird has been born" (Sethur, writing in "QUH"). These Qlippo^t (broken shells) are the remains of hatched eggs of, specifically, "carrion birds" (LA--C 2:7).}

According to Messiaen, the abyss ... is the world of time. He feels that we're imprisoned within the world ... as if in an abyss.

{According to the Golden Dawn, we remain imprisoned therein until we shall have crossed said "Abyss".}

The fourth movement is called "Interme`de" ("Interlude"). In this ... movement, the predominant center is ... exuberance ... . Life in the world involves ... humor and joyful play.

The fifth movement, entitled "Louange a` l'Eternite' ..." ("Praise of the Eternity ..."), is ... the mood of transcendental longing for union with the divine ... . ...

The sixth movement is called "Danse ... pour les sept trompettes" ("Dance ... for the Seven

Trumpets"). ... This movement portrays

an ecstatic ... angelic dance. ...

{aequivalent to H.asidic ecstatic dancing}

p. 347

The movement is a tour de force of rhythmic ingenuity and intensity ... . ...

The seventh movement is entitled

"Fouillis d'arc-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps" ("Tangle of Rainbow, for the Angel Who Announces the End of Time").

{In the Qabbalah, the rainbow is likened to angel Sandalpo^n (FCh, pp. 258-9).} {Sandalpo^n is able to transport one's self upwards through a hollow column "made of ... colors of the rainbow." (THM)}

It's comprised of two contrasting kinds of music that alternate with each other.

{The other kind of music would perhaps be intended to apply to Sandalpho^n's angel-"twin" Mit.at.ro^n.}

The first employs ... passionate transcendental longing ... . ... It becomes both more sublime and mysterious and more full of devotional longing and love. The angel who announces the end of time makes another appearance in the more violent music of contrasting sections ... . ...

The eighth, and final, movement, entitled "Louange a` l'immortalite' ..." ("Praise for the Immortality ..."), is playing with great expression ... . The music demands both mastery and transcendence ... .

p. 348

Messiaen said that he intended this movement to represent the human ... raised up to immortality. As the melody rises, it depicts "the ascension of man ..., of the creature become divine towards Paradise." ... For me, one sign of Messiaen's being an achieved mystic is that the cosmic consciousness ... is wonderfully present in the last [movement]. Here, the transcendental longing of the earlier movements is fulfilled, as we arrive at the goal of ... yogic mysticism : union with the divine."

"D&A" = "Da<ath and the Abyss". http://hermetic.com/caduceus/qabalah/046_kab.html

"QUH" = "Qlippoth : Universal Hell". http://www.pagan-network.org/forums/index.php?topic=10649.0;wap2

LA--C = Commentary on Aleister Crowley: Liber Ararita. http://iao131.com/commentaries/liber-dcccxiii-vel-ararita-sub-figura-dlxx/liber-ararita-chapter-ii-resh/

FCh = David Joel Halperin : The Faces of the Chariot. TEXTE UND STUDIEN ZUM ANTIKEN JUDENTUM, 16. Mohr Siebeck, Tu:bingen, 1988. http://books.google.com/books?id=_ICO0Mv3cw4C&pg=PA258&lpg=PA258&dq=

THM = Ina Cüsters-van Bergen : The Temple of High Magic : Hermetic Initiations in the Western Mystery Tradition. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, 2010.

M:QuFT = audio of Messiaen's Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps https://play.spotify.com/album/2CAy2rWqnICWNsyYoqeu5C/3pquobHvT6blOqXebCT1FZ


Kurt Leland : Music and the Soul : a Listener's Guide to Achieving Transcendent Musical Experiences. Hampton Rds Publ Co, Charlottesville (VA), 2004.