Gnossienne: No. Some have viewed certain of his stylistic traits as components of Impressionism, but his harmonies and melodies have relatively little in common with the characteristics of that school. Much of his music has a subdued character, and its charm comes through in its directness and its lack of allegiance to any one aesthetic. Often his melodies are melancholy and hesitant, his moods exotic or humorous, and his compositions as a whole, or their several constituent episodes, short.
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Erik Satie was born in Honfleur Calvados on 17 May He is considered to be the strangest musician of our time. I also owe much to Christopher Columbus, because the American spirit has occasionally tapped me on the shoulder and I have been delighted to feel its ironically glacial bite.
The habitual irony and characteristic strangeness are confirmed by many. I had a great liking for him and he appreciated my friendliness, I think, and liked me in return. With his pince-nez, umbrella and galoshes he looked a perfect schoolmaster, but he looked just as much like one without these accoutrements… No-one ever saw him wash — he had a horror of soap.
Instead he was forever rubbing his fingers with pumice. He was always very poor, poor by conviction, I think. He lived in a poor section and his neighbours seemed to appreciate his coming among them: he was greatly respected by them.
His familiarity with the world of cabaret he supported himself for several years by working as a pianist at Le Chat Noir and other Montmartre nightclubs enabled him to bring elements of jazz and ragtime into his own compositions — one of the first composers to do so. And his Furniture Music — a set of pieces written specifically not to be listened to — anticipates the concept of background music which we now take for granted.
Despite being always immaculately groomed, Satie lived in extreme poverty: after he died, his friends were horrified to discover that his lodgings consisted of a dingy room with a bed, a table, a chair, a half-empty wardrobe, piles of old newspapers, old hats and walking sticks, and an old broken-down piano with its pedals tied up with string.
Actress Madeleine Milhaud, wife of Darius Milhaud, one of the group of composers in the s known as Les Six, had similar memories. He spoke slowly, breaking the syllables up. His delivery seemed artificial in contradiction with what he said, which was spontaneous… In fact, this man, whose thoughts were the epitome of the anti-bourgeois, was dressed just like one with his dark suit and bowler hat.
As they took him to hospital by ambulance for cirrhosis of the liver, Madeleine recalls that, as they passed by one of his many favourite bars, Satie hospitably suggested they stop for a drink. He asked me to go and fetch some linen from [his apartment in] Arcueil.
So, I went there and saw the miserable building in which he lived. The concierge handed me the bundle and I left without asking any questions, though I should very much have liked to do so. Satie at once had a look at what I had brought back. He counted the handkerchiefs. Two were missing — there were only eighty-six! The harmony is an illumination, an exhibition of the object, its reflection… If there is form and a new style of writing, there is a new craft… Great Masters are brilliant through their ideas, their craft is a simple means to an end, nothing more.
It is their ideas which endure… The Idea can do without Art. Each of them is based on a floating melody in calm, even notes over an accompaniment reminiscent of a very slow waltz. By subtle use of dynamics and wide spacings between the bass and the melody, Satie mixes simplicity, serenity and strangeness in a way which has achieved enduring popularity, particularly since Debussy orchestrated the first and the last piece in In addition to his 19 cabaret songs, Satie made numerous arrangements for those he worked with and his notebooks indicate a large number of ideas for works which may have formed part of his performances without ever being turned into finished pieces.
When did Satie compose? That same year The killer is never caught. In the US, George Eastman is granted a patent for his roll film camera, which he registers under the trademark Kodak. During a bout of mental illness, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh cuts off the bottom of his left ear.
The six pieces known as Gnossienneswere all written in the period —, during which time Satie became associated with Josephin Peladan and the offshoot Rosicrucian organisation, the Ordre de la Rose-Croix. Satie published the first three Gnossiennes independently in with the numbers 1, 6, and 2 and then as a set in Others have suggested that the title may refer to Gnosticism.
The first of the Gnossiennes, in F minor, exploits ornaments and a raised fourth scale degree to impart an austere exotic quality. In the sixth, Satie returns to the barless notation of the others, although the regularity and stable accompaniment pattern could easily accommodate bar lines. The Sonatine bureaucratique is an ironic take on the popular pedagogical Sonatina in A major, Op.
There he goes. He loves a pretty, very elegant lady. He also loves his penholder, his lustrous green sleeves, and his Chinese cap. He takes long steps. He rushes up the stairs and mounts them on his back.
What a wind! Sitting in his armchair, he is happy and shows it. He dreams of his promotion. Perhaps he will have a rise in salary without needing promotion. He hopes to move next term. He has an apartment in mind. If only he is promoted or receives a raise! New dream of promotion. He sings an old Peruvian melody which he collected in Lower Brittany at the home of a deaf mute. A nearby piano plays some Clementi. How sad it is. He ventures to waltz he, not the piano.
All this is very sad. The piano resumes its work. Our friend interrogates himself benevolently. The cold Peruvian melody goes to his head again. The piano continues. Alas, he has to leave his office, his good office. As Robert Orledge has pointed out, taken together with his symphonic drama, Socrate, the Nocturnes are his only late works which abjure the cabaret style altogether.
The embryos in question are crustaceans and Satie parodies a different piece in each movement. Poor beasts. How well he spoke. A great moaning. Perhaps I wanted to be humorous. That would not surprise me and would be pretty much in my manner. The ironic wit is there in the titles and in the performance instructions in No.
The pieces show a remarkable capacity to jump key, so that a simple phrase will suddenly be answered by another which, though entirely plausible in itself and consistent with the surrounding material, will also sound like a non-sequitur.
Constructed with precision, poise and carefully crafted irrelevance, one could imagine that Satie was trying to find the musical equivalent of the anarchic humour which so delighted his friends. The Allegro of is included here as postscript. Satie was living with his father and stepmother in Paris at the time.
The tune happens also to be the anthem of the Bailiwick of Jersey in the Channel Islands, which, despite being a British dependency, is historically part of Normandy, and has French as an administrative language. Whether Satie was aware of this association, however, is not clear. Peter McCallum.
Les Gymnopédies d’Erik Satie : France Musique
Les Gymnopédies d’Erik Satie : France Musique