Satie Erik Essay Research Paper Satie ErikThe

Satie, Erik Essay, Research Paper

Satie, Erik

The French composer Erik Satie was born on May 17, 1866, and died on

July 1, 1925, was the son of an English mother and a Parisian music publisher.

He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1879 but failed to benefit from

academic education, which he embarked on again only in his 40th year, when he

enrolled as a pupil of Vincent d’Indy and Albert Roussel at the Schola Cantorum.

Long before that, however, he had composed a number of short piano pieces, whose

eccentric titles and unfashionable and yet convincing simplicity of melody were

matched by an individual sense of harmony. It is still a moot point whether

Satie got his harmonic ideas from his fellow student and friend Claude Debussy,

or whether the debt was on Debussy’s side. It is quite clear, however, that

Satie’s tasteful principles influenced Debussy in the composition of his opera

Pelleas et Melisande and that Satie was the main influence in helping Debussy to

free himself from the musical domination of Richard Wagner. Satie became

interested in plainsong through his association with a so-called Rosicrucian

group, while he earned his living as a cafe pianist in Montmartre.

Satie was a conscious eccentric and a determined enemy of all

establishments, including the musical. The comical titles that he attached to

his small piano pieces are characteristic of the Bohemian wit in the Paris of

his day. Irony and a deceptively childlike attitude, a dislike for pomposity of

all kinds, and an instinctive secretiveness were hallmarks of both the man and

his music. In 1916, Satie was befriended by Jean Cocteau and wrote the music

for a ballet, Parade, on which Pablo Picasso and Leonid Massine also

collaborated. By far the most important of Satie’s works is Socrate , an harsh

setting for four sopranos and chamber orchestra of Plato’s account of the death

of Socrates. The young composers who formed the essentially Parisian group

known as Les Six regarded Satie as a kind of tutelary genius, and in 1923 one of

them, Darius Milhaud, tried to found an “Ecole d’Arcueil,” named for the obscure

Paris suburb where Satie lived in extreme poverty.