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