Saturday, April 15, 2006

Erik Satie

Not many people can take credit for helping found three different artistic movements. The Dada, Impressionism, and ambient music movements all owe a great deal to Erik Satie, as you'll see. (The drawing to the right: Erik Satie, by Pablo Picasso)

Satie can be viewed as the complete opposite of Richard Wagner; his music, instead of being extremely grand, long, and climactic, is directionless and short. Satie's harmonic language is unlike anyone else. He would recieve lessons from well-known teachers, but if they told him to fix an unconventional element in his style, he would only ask, "why?" Many see Satie as a precursor to the Dadaists; his music and behavior could be very absurd. He wore only velvet suits for a period of time, and only ate white food. He titled the second piece he ever wrote "Opus 62" and hardly ever used bar-lines in his compositions. His works are full of ridiculous jokes, including a piece on this disc that begins "ending" about half a minute before the actual end of the piece (You'll know what I'm talking about if you hear it.)

Satie was a staunch anti-Wagnerian, and when he met a young Claude Debussy, he inspired him to avoid Wagner's path. Debussy and his contemporary Maurice Ravel heeded Satie's advice, started writing formless, quiet, Satie-esque pieces, and began the movement known as Impressionism.

Satie's anti-Romantic style can be best heard in his "furniture music," intended for nothing else but background music- Brian Eno credits Satie with being the first ambient composer. His Gymnopedies are considered by some to be furniture music, but were not meant to be; they are just beautiful examples of rhythm and melody taken to a bare minimum. Claude Debussy was so impressed with Satie's Gymnopedies that he famously orchestrated them, but I prefer the intimate solo versions on this disc.

Pascal Roge- Satie: Piano Works


At April 17, 2006, Anonymous mvl said...

I would add the Satie helped the minimalist movement too, with "Vexations" a 18 hours lasting piece for piano solo (to be played by several pianists in turn) consisting of a short composition to be repeated 840 times!!!!

At April 17, 2006, Blogger Miss F said...

w0w, so nice to see thiS!!!

I can't wait to hear the GymnopediEs! i rememBer th0se are very sLy and wiTTy pieces, whimsicaL and alluring. ^^*

thanks for the enLightening inforMation, I wouldn't have kn0wn any of these thiNgs if it weRen't for you. ^^*

honestLy when i firSt heard the gymNopedies i thought it's from a jazz pianist from the 1940's! so I'm really surpriSed to hear about aLL this...

thank you for yet aGain another steLLar poSt!~~~

Mabuhay from Manila, Philippines~

At April 18, 2006, Blogger Korpus said...

That was a beauty Pasqua with Satie

At April 18, 2006, Blogger jeff said...

thanks for this, and all the other hard work.

At April 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said... will come some more contemporary music.

At April 22, 2006, Anonymous slackdog said...

i've really liked Satie for a few years and i was really happy to see you post this great article and album!

love your blog, keep up the awesome work.

At May 23, 2006, Blogger ปวร said...

first to compose ambient music? wow.
i remember one time when i sat on my non-classical friend's car and heard the song from his proudly-to-present chillout album. he said this song was so beautiful in its innovativity of the piano sound. i acknowledged him that that was the rework of gymnopedie by erik satie which was of course classical music. he was stunned to learn that this song was composed long time ago!

At August 21, 2006, Anonymous bhagya said...

Hi there, I'm a stranger on this site and a huge music lover with way too many CDs. I've come across some music on the website for an exhibition of Giacometti at our local gallery and it is stunning. I just want to know what it is. Believe it or not, the gallery has a contract with someone to provide them with music for their website and they don't know what it is!
I'm stunned. Anyone have any idea? It is totally lovely and to my taste.
It is the first piece that plays when you to to:


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