I discovered Erik Satie in 2008 while studying life and works of John Cage. Until today, I continue to believe both in the importance and in the responsibility of sharing the thought and the works of this extraordinary artist. There are several works that could not have come into existence had Satie not lived. Satie’s cult lasted just for a relative short period of time, yet his influence helped direct the course of the music during the years to come. As with John Cage and “the silence,” we inherit Satie in his “Musique d’Ameublement” anew every day. An essential invention, invisible at the sight, tangible only in a unconscious way. He possessed the mind par excellence of an inventor. Satie’s personality, his character, his aesthetic position and, above all, his ability to hide the beauty with the aim to make pedants and academic teachers fall into errors. These were the weapons Satie used to win his personal battle against tradition. All of this I loved and still love.
As Jean Cocteau once wrote: “Each work of Satie is intimately connected to the previous one, nevertheless it takes distance from the preceding one to live of its own life; therefore, it is an original substance, a surprise, a delusion for everyone who is constantly obsessed by traditions”.I imagined my works when reading these words written by Cocteau. I decided just to use materials that allowed me to create simple works, respecting the deep originality of Satie, the simplicity. I started melting one hundred of record vinyl, then I modified a lamp, a couch and a group of flowers, and I made them sonorous. I worked with Plexiglas and I refurbished an old offertory. I used the wood and some frames before installing 840 speakers on a painting making it reverberate.
A faunal goatee, pince-nez glasses, a seriously sarcastic smile around his lips and an ironic gaze from his myopic eyes: in this way Erik Satie is characterized in Man Ray’s portrait, by Cocteau’s and Picasso’s drawings, as well as in his self-portraits.
Honfleur is a small city in the south of Normandy, situated in north France. Eric Alfred-Leslie Satie was born there on 17 May 1866—Eric with “c.” “K” was an idea he had later. He attended conservatory in Paris, where he proved a good student but immediately showed a deep interior unease towards academic style. For all his life, Satie tried to fight a lonely battle against traditions, considered by him as barriers which did not cede place to the new. Between great economic, physical, and personal difficulties, he succeeds in its intent.
What matters is what he left us: the 20th century, from a musical point of view, variously remains a debtor to Erik Satie, even if canonical music never included him alongside such acclaimed artists of the time as Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Mahler.
Satie was precursor of ambient music and repetitive music, thanks to his Musique d’Ameublement and to his Vexations. With Cocteau and Picasso, he composed the music for Parade, considered the most important avant-garde opera at the beginning of the century. Satie wrote music for Entr’acte, a short movie produced by René Clair, in which he performed as well. He set up his own church and created his own religion, but with only one believer: Satie himself. And then one must mention all his drawings, his theater plays, his wallpaper and ballet music.
Satie’s production is broad and can be essentially divided into 3 different periods: the “mystical and symbolic” (1885-1895), the “folk and scholastic” (1897-1911), and the “humorous and Dadaist” (1912-1925) periods. He fell and injured himself in 1925 before dying on the first of July the same year owing to a cirrhosis complicated by pleurisy.