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Wednesday
May072008

Erik Satie - Gymnopédies

Erik Satie radical French composer (1866-1925)




At a vernissage here in a Paris art gallery in 1902 Ambient music was born when Erik Satie and his cronies, after begging everyone in the gallery to ignore them, broke out into what they called Furniture Music - background music.

One 3 minute Satie piece is called Vexations. It's a single page of music with the instructions "to be repeated 840 times" scrawled on it. John Cage gave Vexations its first performance in New York in 1963. Ten pianists working in two hour shifts conquered the piece, which lasted 18 hours and 40 minutes.

The ethereal, aloof, and impersonal music went against everything Wagnerian, the rage of the moment in Paris. As a matter of fact, Satie composed his most famous works, the Gymnopédies, while under the spell of the Rosicrucians. Here is a taste of Satie - one of his Gnossiennes

Satie was truly eccentric. Once when asked what he wanted for his birthday he replied -

I saw this beautiful handkerchief the other day....

After his death they found in his wardrobe 84 identical handkerchieves, 12 identical velvet suits and dozens of umbrellas.

Here is a good Satie Resource

And Free Piano Downloads

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