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Erik Satie \ Introduction

Eccentric yet visionary French composer Erik Satie was born at Honfleur, near Le Havre, on 17 May 1866. Despite being labeled the laziest student at the Paris Conservatoire in 1881, Satie was a gifted pianist, and by 1890 was engaged as musical director at the bohemian Chat Noir cabaret in Montmartre. Already Satie had written his three famous Gymnopédies, completed in the spring of 1888.

His friend and fellow composer Claude Debussy called Satie "the precursor" in recognition of his harmonic innovations, and described him as "a gentle medieval musician lost in this century." In fact Satie anticipated many developments on 20th century music, from chromatism to serialism to minimalism, and made virtues of simplicity, economy and wit. These qualities, coupled with a shrewd awareness of developing trends in modern art, from Matisse to Man Ray, Picabia to Picasso, Cocteau to Brancusi, Dada to Surrealism, make Satie the personification of the espirit nouveau, and not merely the composer of the popular classics Gymnopédies and Parade.

Erik Satie's legacy is both profound and unique. The timeless, unresolved quality of much of his work was a key influence on later composers such as John Cage, while his concept of musique d'ameublement (furniture music) anticipated ambient and environmental 'muzak' by half a century. The simplicity of Vexations, in which three short lines of music are repeated 840 times, provides minimalism with an important historical precedent.

LTM offers an extensive catalogue of carefully selected Satie recordings with explicit links to the unconventional, the mystic and the avant-garde:

Across two separate CDs we also explore Satie's close association with Jean Cocteau and Les Six.

Erik Satie

"Erik Satie was the only musician who had eyes." (Man Ray)

"The smallest work by Satie is small in the way a keyhole is small. Everything changes when you put your eye to it - or your ear." (Jean Cocteau)

"It's not a question of Satie's relevance. He's indispensable." (John Cage)