Now for one of the Russian front runners Stravinsky versus the guy who started it all for Russia, Glinka.
Glinka is an interesting dude. He traveled extensively and ended up in Italy for three years. In Italy he met composers such as Berlioz and Mendelssohn. He was also exposed to the music of Donizetti and Bellini who were establishing a unique voice for Italian music.
Glinka returned to Russia by way of Vienna and Berlin in order to write in a slavic style and to create a Russian sound. He accomplished that with his opera A Life for the Tsar.
Stravinsky wins. I don’t think much elaboration is needed there.
However, it has been determined that Glinka will get another shot at the second round by facing off against Shostakovich as well.
The next match is Prokofiev versus Scriabin.
At first glance this is a walk in the park for Prokofiev but upon closer inspection we see that Scriabin is a titan in disguise.
During his lifetime Scriabin was primarily known as a pianist. His life as a composer grew in stature after his death — imagine that.
In retrospect, many musicologists consider Scriabin to have been a major influence on Prokofiev and Stravinsky. Some speculate that had he lived he would have been classified with Schoenberg as a pioneer in tonality.
Scriabin became immersed in Theosophy after flirting with Nietzsche’s ubermensch philosophy. This appears to have had a profound affect.
According to the Scriabin Society website, “Scriabin considered his last music to be fragments of an immense piece to be called Mysterium. This seven-day-long megawork would be performed at the foothills of the Himalayas in India, after which the world would dissolve in bliss. Bells suspended from clouds would summon spectators. Sunrises would be preludes and sunsets codas. Flames would erupt in shafts of light and sheets of fire. Perfumes appropriate to the music would change and pervade the air.”
When a composer intends to write the end of the world, we need to give him his due.
Prokofiev wins this one but only because of the battle on the ice from Alexander Nevsky is the end of the world.