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Erik Satie

(1866 - 1925)

Erik Satie was born on May 17th, 1866 in Honfleur as Alfred Eric Leslie Satie.

From his first composition of in 1884, he signed his name as Erik Satie, as he said he preferred.

When he was four years old, his family moved to Paris.

In 1879 Satie entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he was soon labeled untalented by his teachers.

After being sent home for two and a half years, he was re-accepted in the Conservatoire at the end of 1885 but was unable to make a much more favorable impression on his teachers than he had before, so he finally resolved to take up military service a year later.

By 1891 he was the official composer and chapel-master of the Rosicrucian Order.

By mid-1892 he had composed the first pieces in a compositional system of his own making, had provided incidental music to a chivalric esoteric play, had had his first hoax published.

From 1899 on he started making money as a cabaret pianist.

Satie was the 'godfather' of the group called 'Les Six'.

This group consisted of a loosely knit band of composers all working under the artistic advice of Jean Cocteau. "Les Six" are Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric, Louis Durey and Germaine Tailleferre.

Satie was a great eccentric and extremely anti-establishment.

In 1915 he composed music for the ballet Parade, a commission from Diaghilev, in collaboration with Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau.

His music for Parade was adapted to feed the latest popular music craze, but also included such sound effects as a typewriter, a siren, and pistol shots.

A critic described the work as "surreal", coining the term "Surrealism" to describe artistic creation that explores the world of dreams and of the subconscious mind.

The word "surrealism" was soon applied to a whole new artistic and literary movement.

After years of heavy drinking, Satie died on 1 July, 1925, from cirrhosis of the liver.

He left a legacy of over 150 solo piano pieces, fourteen songs, six stage works, Mass for voices and organ, Socrate, and a new musical tradition that was followed by Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and Poulenc among others.



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