Erik Satie

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Erik Satie (1866-1925) (Erik Alfred Leslie Satie) was a french music composer, and a performing pianist, though mainly for café- and cabaret audiences. Satie wrote theatre- and ballet music, as well as piano music. His compositions are original, humorous, often bizarre, and very minimalistic. His music is sometimes called furniture music, supposed to be in the background of everyday life. It is evidently is a(nti)-romantic and also anti-impressionistic. Satie evenually became a leading figure of the french avant-garde.

He started to take music really serioulsy when he was 40 years old. In 1916 the first performance in Paris of the ballet Parade (for orchestra and typewriter) caused a scandal, which established his name as a composer. Satie wrote this ballet together with Cocteau and Picasso for the Russian impresario Diaghilev, leader of the Ballets Russes.

His other works include:

  • Trois Gymnopédies (1888), piano
  • Trois morceaux en forme de poire (1903), piano
  • Messe des Pauvres (1895)
  • Descriptions Automatiques (1913), piano
  • Sonatine Bureaucratique (1917), piano
  • Socrate (1920), symphonic drama
  • Relâche (1924), ballet

His complete works have recently been published on Swedish Society Discofil, performed by Olof Hojer.

Satie gave his piano pieces names like On a boat, About a lantern, or About a helmet. He accompanied the scores of these pieces with all kinds of written remarks, through which he admonished the performer to tell a story with his music.

It is a well-documented fact that every day of his working life Satie left his appartment in the 8th arrondissement to walk across the whole of Paris to his studio (a distance of approx. 15km) to spend the day composing before walking back again in the evening.

Satie was known as an eccentric, and amongst other things he started his own church (with himself as only member). Debussy and Ravel were among his friends. He was not hailed by the masses, but was admired by many young composers and musicians. In fact, Satie was the center of the Groupe des Six, a group of six French composers (Auric, Durey, Honegger, Germaine Tailleferre, Milhaud and Poulenc. The group advocated clear musical language, and opposed impressionism (for example Debussy and Ravel), slavism (Stravinsky) and post-Wagnerism (Schönberg) in music.


Please fill out more, this guy deserves a longer article.