Monday, February 20, 2012

Erik Satie: “Gymnopedie No. 1” (1888)

Eric Satie was born in Honfleur, France. Honfleur is a small port where the Seine River meets the sea.

Satie was born on May 17, 1866. His father Alfred was French and his mother Jane was British. He had a younger brother named Conrad. Satie died on July 1, 1925 at the age of 59.

When Satie was four, he and his family moved to Paris. His father worked there as a translator. When his mother died in 1872, his father sent Satie and his younger brother back to Honfleur to live with their grandmother. Satie learned how to play the organ. When their grandmother died in 1878, he and his brother went back to Paris to live with their father.

Satie’s father soon remarried. Satie’s stepmother was a teacher of piano.

In 1879, Satie went to school at the Paris Conservatory. His teachers thought he played the piano badly and was very lazy. They sent him home. In 1885 he went back to the Conservatory, but he didn’t do any better. He decided to join the military. His bosses there sent him home as well.

In 1887, he got his own flat in the area of Paris known as Montmartre. Soon he was playing the piano at a nightclub, Le Chat Noire, which later became famous. At this time he wrote “Gymnopedie No. 1.”

While working at Le Chat Noire, Satie became friends with Claude Debussy. Ten years later, Satie needed money. To help his friend, Debussy rewrote “Gymnopedie No. 1” so that a whole orchestra could play it. By doing so, he increased the popularity of Satie's music.

Seventy years later an American band, Blood, Sweat and Tears, played their own variation of Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1."

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.