Erik Satie  

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Erik Satie
Erik Satie

"Everyone will tell you that I am not a musician. That is correct. From the very beginning of my career I classed myself as a phonometrographer. My work is completely phonometrical."--Memoirs of an Amnesiac (1912) by Eric Satie

"It is hardly necessary to consider here the fantastic fashionings of Erik Satie, the "newest" French composer. He seems to have out-Schoenberged Schoenberg in his little piano pieces bearing the alluring titles of Embryons desséchés, preludes and pastorales. Apart from the extravagant titles, the music itself is ludicrous qua music, but not without subtle irony. That trio of Chopin's Funeral March played in C and declared as a citation from the celebrated mazurka of Schubert does touch the rib risible. There are neither time signature nor bars. All is gentle chaos and is devoted to the celebration, in tone, of certain sea-plants and creatures. This sounds like Futurism or the passionate patterns of the Cubists."--Ivory, Apes, and Peacocks (1915) by James Huneker

"Carl Van Vechten has told us of Erich Satie, the eccentric French composer, who sets snails and oysters to music, and, no doubt, has composed a Cooties Serenade for wind instruments with a fine-tooth comb obbligato, and we are amazed at the critical exposition of such a perplexing "case." To let his music speak for it self, would be unwise, as it is not sufficiently explicative. Rhizopods can't converse. Just here is where your music-critic, your calico cat, intervenes. After Van Vechten has polished off his man, we feel that we know all about Satie, so much so that we never wish to hear a bar of his crustacean music. The difference between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee is infinitesimal, but that very difference may contain great art."--Bedouins (1920) by James Huneker

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Eric Satie (1866 – 1925) was a French composer and pianist known for compositions such as Gymnopédies (1888-1895).


Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde and his work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd.

An eccentric, Satie was introduced as a "gymnopedist" in 1887, shortly before writing his most famous compositions, the Gymnopédies. Later, he also referred to himself as a "phonometrician" (meaning "someone who measures sounds") preferring this designation to that of a "musician", after having been called "a clumsy but subtle technician" in a book on contemporary French composers published in 1911.

In addition to his body of music, Satie also left a remarkable set of writings, having contributed work for a range of publications, from the dadaist 391 to the American culture chronicle Vanity Fair. Although in later life he prided himself on always publishing his work under his own name, in the late nineteenth century he appears to have used pseudonyms such as Virginie Lebeau and François de Paule in some of his published writings.

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