Hear two brilliant musicians with famously idiosyncratic personalities come together today at 2:00pm. Pianist Glenn Gould and composer Alexander Scriabin.
Gould was known to hum and sing while he played; he would perform concerts only with a chair his father had made; he avoided the cold and wore heavy clothing and gloves even in warm places; he disliked social functions and hated to be touched. Conductor George Szell once commented about Gould’s personality and performance in one simple statement: “That nut’s a genius.”
Scriabin’s contemporaries noted that he showed signs of mental instability early on; he alienated his teachers Sergei Taneyev and Anton Arensky who flunked him, and Rimsky-Korsakov said he was “self-opinionated, warped, strange and distorted.” Scriabin eventually became interested in mysticism, which influenced his compositions, and he began to announce to friends that he was the Messiah. His visions just grew more bizarre... or artistic. Still, like Gould, he was widely recognized as an unmatched talent. Leo Tolstoy described Scriabin's music as "a sincere expression of genius," and he influenced Stravinsky and Prokofiev. At his funeral that was so well attended tickets had to be issued, Rachmaninoff was a pallbearer and afterward undertook a concert tour to perform only Scriabin’s music.
Despite earlier era impolite descriptions of their misunderstood personalities, the genius of each was also widely agreed upon. Glenn Gould performs the Piano Sonata #3 by Alexander Scriabin for today’s Midday Masterpiece at 2:00 pm.
May 19, 2022