Kandinsky's Colors

Kandinsky's Colors

Do you remember learning about Scriabin, the composer who was fascinated by synesthesia

Synesthesia: A condition that causes people to see colors when they hear sounds

The artist Wassily Kandinsky had synesthesia, and like Scriabin, he was inspired by the connection between color and music. Kandinsky was one of the world's first abstract artists, and his outside-the-box thinking about color and shape helped him create dynamic, interesting artworks!

“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

Before becoming an artist, Kandinsky was studying to be a lawyer. It was while attending an opera performance that Kandinsky decided to be an artist, instead — and the rest was history!

Black and Violet, 1923 • Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


The opera that inspired Kandinsky was Lohengrin, a work by the Romantic composer Richard Wagner. Lohengrin tells the story of a mysterious Medieval knight who arrives to save the day... but no one is allowed to know his name. 

Wagner is famous for writing huge and very emotional pieces of music. One of his operas takes 5 hours to perform! With passionate stories, moving melodies, and big sounds played by huge orchestras, it's no wonder his music sparked Kandinsky's colorful imagination. 

You may recognize this famous musical theme, which plays near the end of Lohengrin when the mysterious knight gets married: 

Listen to this beautiful moment in Lohengrin while you complete the coloring activity in your magazine: 

Other Interesting Facts to Impress Your Friends & Family:

  • King Ludwig of Bavaria named his famous Neuschwanstein ("Swan") castle after Lohengrin's main character, who rides a swan-led boat.
  • The first performance of Lohengrin was directed by Franz Liszt, the famous Romantic pianist 
  • Wagner is famous for his leitmotifs. These are short melodies that represent a particular character or idea. Inspired by Wagner, composers have continued to use leitmotifs for all types of music, including film scores! You may recognize this famous leitmotif: 




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