Kandinsky is generally considered to have had the neural condition called
synaesthesia wherein two senses cross over or combine. Not only was he
deeply influenced by music, but Kandinsky is believed to have seen it. Much
of his work is believed to be visual representations of music; what he
actually saw in his mind's eye when he heard musical sound. Wagner's
"Lohengrin" was an early influence upon Kandinsky's art.
Sometime later Kandinsky was closely aligned with the thinking of Viennese
composer, Arnold Schoenberg, whose music rejected thematic repetition.
Listen to some of Schoenberg's music and you'll see an immediate
correlation. Kandinsky's thinking was also aligned with Russian composer
Scriabin who looked for similarities between tone and color. Scriabin's
symphony "Prometheus: A Poem of Fire" is an example of this.
It's interesting that Kandinsky, who was also a trained musician, felt that
music was a superior language to painting. His goal was what the German
language refers to as "gesamtkuntswerk" (total work of art).
Although this probably seems off base from the original question about music
and Kandinsky, consider that Kandinsky--because of synaesthesia--more than
likely saw in his mind's eye colors and shapes that were associated with
musical sound and that he transcribed in paint what he saw.
Sorry to get so off track, but I have recently been reading and writing
about this topic and find it fascinating. I'd be curious to see what sort of
artwork your students create.
Pamela Geiger Stephens, PhD
Northern Arizona University
School of Art
Department of Art Education
PO Box 6020
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6020