Some investigations into Erik Satie
An article by Ornella Volta.
Unpublished drawing by Jean Sichler (1987)
Satie said one day to Cocteau: "I want to write a play for dogs, and I already have my set design: the curtain rises on a bone".
It often happens with Satie that, amazed by the arresting image he suggests, we forget to dig for meaning beneath the proposal. Such a magic formula - we're happy just to mull it over, even pass it on, to transmit it intact.
Why ask ourselves about the details of such a play? About its plot, its dialogue? Why did he go out of his way to describe the set?
Simply to raise the question touches on the pedantic or superfluous. In a play "for dogs," the bone is at once the content, the set and the plot. The set is the play.
It has often been asked why Satie wrote several of his works "for a dog". Some have seen an allusion to Chopin's Valse op. 64, no. 1 nicknamed "little dog's waltz" - or maybe a sly wink at the "Love Songs To My Dog" (Sins of Old Age) by Rossini. Others have seen, perhaps a bit more to the point, a tribute to Diogenes and other Cynics.
For us, as we have written elsewhere, the dedication of the Flabby Preludes sends us back, automatically and inevitably, to the prologue of Gargantua, which begins by quoting the same portion of the "Banquet" which Satie would use in his "Portrait de Socrate". Let's take up the passage that concerns us here. Having recalled that Alcibiades had compared Socrates to "silenes", those little boxes decorated with funny and frivolous pictures, but still containing many precious ingredients, Rabelais continues:
"(...) Whereunto (in your opinion) doth this little flourish of a preamble tend? For so much as you, my good disciples, and some other jolly fools of ease and leisure, reading the pleasant titles of some books of our invention, as Gargantua, Pantagruel, Whippot (Fessepinte), the Dignity of Codpieces, of Pease and Bacon with a Commentary, &c., are too ready to judge that there is nothing in them but jests, mockeries, lascivious discourse, and recreative lies; because the outside (which is the title) is usually, without any farther inquiry, entertained with scoffing and derision. But truly it is very unbeseeming to make so slight account of the works of men, seeing yourselves avouch that it is not the habit makes the monk, many being monasterially accoutred, who inwardly are nothing less than monachal, and that there are of those that wear Spanish capes, who have but little of the valour of Spaniards in them. Therefore is it, that you must open the book, and seriously consider of the matter treated in it. Then shall you find that it containeth things of far higher value than the box did promise; that is to say, that the subject thereof is not so foolish as by the title at the first sight it would appear to be.
(...) did you ever see a dog with a marrowbone in his mouth, - the beast of all other, says Plato, lib. 2, de Republica, the most philosophical? If you have seen him, you might have remarked with what devotion and circumspectness he wards and watcheth it: with what care he keeps it: how fervently he holds it: how prudently he gobbets it: with what affection he breaks it: and with what diligence he sucks it. To what end all this? What moveth him to take all these pains? What are the hopes of his labour? What doth he expect to reap thereby? Nothing but a little marrow. True it is, that this little is more savoury and delicious than the great quantities of other sorts of meat, because the marrow (as Galen testifieth, 5. facult. nat. & 11. de usu partium) is a nourishment most perfectly elaboured by nature.
In imitation of this dog, it becomes you to be wise, to smell, feel and have in estimation these fair goodly books, stuffed with high conceptions, which, though seemingly easy in the pursuit, are in the cope and encounter somewhat difficult. And then, like him, you must, by a sedulous lecture, and frequent meditation, break the bone, and suck out the marrow (...)".
Cover of one of Erik Satie's music notebooks
(Harvard Univ., The Houghton Library)
We've barely begun to shuffle seriously through the little works which Satie left scattered behind him and to find, after all, that they are not "so foolish as by the title at the first sight they would appear to be."
As musicologists of all stripes turn an ever-closer scrutiny on these works, our first priority is a dusting-off that couldn't be effectively done without having a fund of documentation and archival material at our disposal, open to researchers as such - which the Fondation Erik Satie has been gathering for the last several years.
We believe the first job is to find the simple, basic truth behind each and every work - too often twisted or shunted away from its original goal. Before we bite into these "bones," it would be a good idea to clean them off first...
You will find in these pages several (non-exhaustive) examples of investigations we have carried out, a historical context for both published works and manuscripts, as well as a list of theses and other academic papers on the subject. The Research Notes, which - with a great deal of hope - we've gathered at the end, proves (as if we had any need of proof) that our work has barely begun.
The last ballet composed by Erik Satie - Relâche
(1924) - includes an "entr'acte symphonique" designed to
accompany a filmed intermission, shot especially for the occasion by
René Clair. As for who first had the idea, unheard-of at the
time, to marry cinema and ballet, the debate is wide open. Do we owe
it to Satie - who for a long time had been composing furniture music
for intermissions - and who must have recalled that in 1900, when
moving pictures were still just an exotic curiosity, that short films
(comedies, preferably) were often shown during music-hall revues? In
1921, already, Satie had entitled "Super-Cinéma" a
ballet for Rolf de Maré, who would become the producer of Relâche
- a ballet he and Derain had concocted, but never got around to completing1.
Or was it Picabia's idea, since he also created the scenarios and
designs for both Relâche and René Clair's
"Entr'acte" itself? Could it have even come from Blaise
Cendrars, assistant to Abel Gance and a cinemaphile from day one -
the same Cendrars who wrote the first draft of the Relâche
scenarios (before Picabia kicked him off the project)? Miriam
Cendrars has just published a set of memoirs which, fascinating as
they are, don't shed much light on the question at hand2.
Timing of "Entr'acte." Autograph manuscript by René Clair, 1924. (Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique)
Its exact origins yet to be determined, let's see what has become of the work since. As we know, the ballet and its entr'acte would come to lead two very different lives. Rolf de Maré's Ballets Suédois having dissolved not long after the premiere of Relâche3, the ballet has not been revived in half a century. The René Clair film, stripped of Erik Satie's music (this was still the era of silent films), would lead the most brilliant of careers, especially after film libraries became commonplace the world over.
Toward the end of the 1960s, the Mai musical florentin had the idea of approaching René Clair about a revival of Relâche4.
The director did some research at the Dansmuséet in Stockholm, which contains much of the archives of the Ballets Suédois, and discovered, along with the familiar "entracte cinématographique," there also existed a filmed prologue to the ballet - a prologue he had shot himself, but believed lost, in which Satie and Picabia announce the start of the show - not by striking the stage three times as in French theatrical tradition, but by firing a cannon at the audience.
All the while preparing for the Florence production, René Clair found it only right and proper to complete his film "Entr'acte" with this long-forgotten prologue, and struck a deal with Pathé to produce restored prints with a soundtrack featuring, as it should have all along, the music of Erik Satie5. And so it was done. This edition is, at least on paper, the only one authorized by René Clair, currently represented by his widow, Madame Bronja René Clair6.
As he worked at restoring his film, René Clair could not forget the numerous film libraries all over the world, which had been showing an amputated version for decades. He therefore struck prints of the long-lost prologue for the benefit of curators. It seems, however, that he wasn't quite explicit enough in his instructions, since we can still see, here and there, this "prologue" inserted at random, in the middle of other scenes, at the editor's whim7.
Few libraries had the means to purchase new prints, regardless. Since the sixties also saw an important rediscovery of Erik Satie8, we've seen a number of pianists and orchestra directors hit on the idea of including the film "Entr'acte" in their programs, with live musical accompaniment.
To do this, performers tend to use, without a second thought, the
Satie score entitled "Cinéma"9.
They all marvel, however, at the difficulties they find in making
the music match the rhythm of the filmed sequences, which is no less
surprising when they learn that this is the first example of music
scored explicitly for film, frame-by-frame10.
These difficulties stem from the simple fact that the score entitled "Cinéma" corresponds exactly to the original "entracte cinématographique," and nothing else. The prologue - reinstated by René Clair, as we've just described, at a much later date - should be accompanied by another portion of Relâche - the part of the ballet which Satie called "Projection" in the piano score and, in the orchestral score, by the affectionate diminutive "Projectionnette"11.
According to Satie and René Clair, the intermission film clocked in at 17:15. The timing of the individual sequences communicated by René Clair to Satie, after the film's completion, appears in one of René Clair's manuscripts kept in the Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique, Fonds Erik Satie, Ms 96779. The running time of the version of "Entr'acte" currently distributed by Pathé, prologue included, is 22:00.
Erik SATIE, Notes for Relâche (1924). Autograph manuscript. (Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique)
Cover of Geneviève de Brabant by Lord Cheminot.
Autograph manuscript. (Private collection)
There's a curious story behind this work by Erik Satie and Lord Cheminot. Inspired by a character who, according to legend, languished for years before being miraculously rediscovered, it has suffered the same fate as far as both the score and the libretto are concerned - exhumed, and separately, almost fifty years apart from each other.
It seems Satie never mentioned its existence, since it has no place in the catalogues of his works - published or otherwise - established, if not under his direction, at least with his assistance, by his young friends Roland-Manuel1 and Paul Collaer2. After Satie's death, as Darius Milhaud (one of the first to enter his room in Arcueil) remembered it, "we found behind the piano a notebook containing Jack in the Box and Geneviève de Brabant, which Satie thought he'd lost on the bus"3...
This story, unfortunately, is not confirmed by the manuscripts at hand, because the score of Jack exists in a single sketchbook, apparently whole, of ten-stave notepaper4, while Geneviève was written on eight individual sheets, of twelve staves each, torn out of a different book5.
Even if a third notebook were suddenly to reappear, containing both scores (nothing may have prevented the composer from making several manuscripts,) this would not be enough to prove that they were composed at the same time, as many have speculated since. Not always blessed with means to buy music paper, Satie often used blank pages from an old notepad for his newer compositions - making a whole new chronology for works widely separated in time.
We do know, however, that his method of working demanded an exclusive and almost daily collaboration with any author who shared his work. Jack in the Box, of which the manuscript is dated, was composed in July 1899 as incidental music for a play by Jules Dépaquit6. Geneviève de Brabant was written - at an unspecified date, which our educated guess would place after 1900 - for a play by Lord Cheminot.
In his witty article "Erik Satie, the Velvet Gentleman"7, George Auriol explains that this "English lord" called himself "Condamine (sic) de Latour" when he arrived in Paris incognito. According to the code of in-jokes in force at the Chat Noir (of which Auriol was one of the pillars), this information should be read backwards. Because it was in fact J.P. Contamine de Latour, or rather Patrice Contamine8, who signed the name Lord Cheminot to his literary output around 1900.
Satie had carried on a very intense friendship with him, from the time of his first songs (1887) until Uspud (1892)9 at least.
In his memoirs, Contamine said that at any given time, circumstances would separate them, only to reunite them temporarily a bit later, even though Satie had already left Montmartre for Arcueil. We have seen the name "J. P. Contamine de Latour" attached to works which Satie composed, as we have just seen, between 1887 and 1892, then again for two songs in 190510. In 1900 and 1901, Satie collaborated with "Lord Cheminot" instead11.
It was in this last period that Geneviève de Brabant most likely appeared. The manuscript of this "three-act play in verse and in prose", which is undated as well as the score, was written out, in green ink and in Contamine's dense, barely legible handwriting, on thirty-two sheets of poor quality paper, 25 x 18.5 cm, bearing the trademark "Journal La Presse, 12 rue du Croissant 12, Paris"12. Further research into the articles later published by Contamine in that particular paper could help with the date as well.
Lord Cheminot presents the vicissitudes of the poor duchess, victim of Golo's heartless machinations, in a humorous vein which must reflect a popular fin-de-siècle view of a legendary tearjerker that was more than ripe for parody. We have recovered an engraving in which the legends come particularly close to our author's dialogue, and could well have served as a source of inspiration13. Didn't the duke of Brabant, after all, order several thousand copies of "an 'Image d'Epinal' (...) for the amusement of future generations?" One can sense yet another example of the "chatnoiresque" attitude which we've already had a chance to evoke, and which consists of systematically presenting facts in the exact opposite of the spirit in which they were intended. In a third assault on reality, one of the play's characters, no less than the well-known historical figure Frederick Barbarossa, is depicted as the grandfather of Geneviève's husband. A contemporary - according to legend - of Charles Martel, the latter should have preceded him by several centuries...
Série aux Armes d'Epinal, no. 301, Pellerin et Cie, Epinal (excerpt)
In Cheminot's Geneviève, other details stand out: contrary to tradition, the duchess does not give birth and is not miraculously suckled by a doe (the only allusion to this signal episode of the legend). We're also spared the pathetic death of the heroine, because the play ends with her restoration, amid the rejoicing of the crowd. Instead of being condemned to death, Golo is simply asked to leave the country (and wastes no time in finding greener pastures).
Geneviève did not have a baby and was not befriended by a doe
of any kind, Golo is not killed but only pulled away from his own
destiny, and all ends well amid the rejoicing of the crowd. As it
does in Genoveva by Robert Schumann (1848) as well14;
Satie and Contamine may well have heard a concert version of this
opera at the Salle Harnoncourt in December 1894.
Cover of the Universal edition, Vienna, 1930.
If Lord Cheminot's plot evokes that of Schumann's only opera in certain respects, we could also find - all things kept in proportion, of course - some common ground with the plot of Debussy's only opera, which was under construction at that exact time. Same setting in both cases: a Middle Ages of the imagination, a forest, a castle. Same kind of heroine, too: a young damsel with long tresses, victim of men's heartlessness. Same name, phonetically at least, for the villain, since Geneviève's Golo seems to echo Golaud in Pelléas.
One could of course point out that neither Maeterlinck nor Lord Cheminot invented their characters, who belong to popular tradition. However, Satie's choice of a subject so close to the one which occupied his friend Debussy, could well not have been totally innocent15.
By concocting a Geneviève as simple and direct as Pelléas is rich in subtle implications, our young composer could have been behaving like the storied young boy who pokes fun at the sorceror to which he's supposed to be apprenticed 16. We do know that after having seen Pelléas (in the spring of 1902), Satie was impressed to the point of wanting to start over at square one17. Confronted with the most moving of masterpieces, all joking literally aside, this could also explain why Geneviève never came out of its box. All thought of an impossible confrontation between a grand opera and incidental music of minuscule proportions aside, this score deserves better than the grudging attention its author seemed to have given it. Conceived just as Satie was about to leave "kneeling music" behind for a new interest in popular music (he would become a hired assistant of the songwriter Vincent Hyspa and of the "queen of the slow waltz," Paulette Darty), it vacillates calmly between plainchant and operetta, with a most pleasant contrasting effect. Even more remarkable is its deliberately extreme economy. The four variations on the same theme which make up the prelude reappear separately throughout the piece in the form of intermezzos. And just to make sure we understand it is time to leave the magic of the theater behind and return to our senses, the composer only needs to put a short, brusque interruption in the final chorus, at the very moment when the text explains that "it's all over-ver-ver, all over now".
Geneviève de Brabant premiered on May 17, 1926, for the sixtieth anniversary of Erik Satie's birth, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, which had just become an "Opera/Music Hall", conducted by Daven and directed by Rolf de Maré18. This performance took place, a year after the death of the composer, during a Festival organized, in tribute to Satie's memory, by the Comte Etienne de Beaumont19.
On that evening, the name of Lord Cheminot didn't figure in the program or the posters. Looking for all the world like Patrice Contamine, he would disappear forever from the scene only a week later - and not just figuratively.
Marionette representing Geneviève de Brabant. Atelier Mascotte, 1926 (Photo Man Ray).
Perhaps the length of the piece (under a half-hour, including all spoken interpolations) and the fact that it still required a certain number of actors, was not an exact fit for an essentially musical Festival, designed with great variety in mind. It could only be that this score of less than ten minutes was structured enough to hold its own. "Make it snappy" - wasn't this the only advice Satie ever really consented to give? The very real and material difficulties of life between the wars gave rise, in one stroke and because of (or even in spite of) Satie's intentions, to the "minute opera.".
Neither Lord Cheminot nor Erik Satie gave the slightest instruction as to the performance of their piece. Only one detail of the dialogue ("the mob cries out as if it were made of cardboard" ) could lead us to believe that Genevieve, as well as Uspud, was written for the shadow-plays of Montmarte20. Neither Lord Chemimot nor Satie ever indicated that this piece was even written for marionettes - even though a taste for this genre was in the air at the turn of the century (one only needs to recall Alfred Jarry's Théâtre des Pantins) - and that the legend of Geneviève was a common theme in ordinary puppetshows - magic lantern shows, too21.
If the Comte de Beaumont had marionettes in mind, it was because he had seen, several years earlier, the premiere of the Retablo de Maese Pedro by Manuel de Falla, at the salon of Princesse Edmond de Polignac22. The sets and marionettes used in this performance were the creation of the Spanish painter Manuel-Angelès Ortiz. Being only natural that Beaumont should appeal to Ortiz for the set design and marionettes for Geneviève, the latter were built, like those of the Retablo, by Madame T. Lazarskï's Maison Mascotte ("Decorative dolls, cotillion dolls and mascots for Automobiles")23. All this was done behind the back of André Derain who, having sought in vain during Satie's lifetime to participate in the production of one of his works, had already prepared sketches for Geneviève de Brabant, left to gather dust ever since24.
For puppeteers, Beaumont hired the famous Waltons. For the voices of Geneviève and Golo, he requested the services of Jane Bathori and baritone Roger Bourdin from the Opéra-Comique. Roger Désormière - who had been a member of the "Ecole d'Arcueil," founded under Satie's aegis, and who had conducted his last ballets25 was given the task of orchestrating Geneviève and conducting its premiere.
Only the problem of introducing and tying together the various musical fragments remained; Satie seemed to have foreseen the need for interpolations in an otherwise highly compressed plot structure. Lucien Daudet wrote three short, vaguely humorous poems which the actor Edouard Ferras would read, as a sort of prologue, at the beginning of each act.
This performance was such a great success that any other means of presenting Geneviève de Brabant became unthinkable - to the point that this work of Erik Satie has been classified in all catalogues as an "opera for marionettes" ever since. What's more, when Adolph Bolm took it on himself to use this score (probably in a transcription for orchestra alone) for a ballet to be performed in Chicago and Buenos Aires, he left out all references to the poor duchess and simply called his choreography "Marionettes' Ball"26.
In 1929, with the permission of the composer's estate, Roger Désormière signed over his orchestration of Geneviève to Universal of Vienna, as well as Satie's piano score, in his own fair copy. Not having Lord Cheminot's play at his disposal, Désormière might not have been aware of its existence, and Universal completed its edition with a Canticle in honor of St. Geneviève, taken from an "image" by Epinal from the nineteenth century27. Showing the duchess dressed in rags in the middle of a forest, her baby in her arms and the doe at her feet, millions of these "images" had been distributed at county fairs and parish churches during the previous century, to be sung to the tune of "Due devant nous tout s'abaisse et tout tremble" from Lully's Atys28. This tragic air of twenty-nine verses gives a tearful version of the story (Geneviève dies, only to be followed in death by the kind little doe) which couldn't be further from the intentions of Satie and Lord Cheminot, clearly visible in the text of their own arias.
Universal failed to indicate a source for the "Complainte," just as it also did not credit the author of the texts which Satie set to music. Just the same, perhaps taking Satie's first biographer (P.D. Templier) at his word, all subsequent performances and recordings credited the libretto of Geneviève de Brabant to "J.P. Contamine de Latour"29. As a result, commentators regularly attributed to him even the Cantique which used to be sung, in the nineteenth century, on an air by Lully.
Lord Cheminot's original script (let the author keep the pseudonymn he chose for the occasion) has been found, in the course of our research, in the archives of the Comte Etienne de Beaumont.
André Derain, costume sketch for
Geneviève de Brabant by Erik Satie, 1926.
(Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet)
This work has been performed, for the first time in Satie's original version for piano and voice, by the Théâtre Universitaire de Clermont-Ferrand, "Yellow Dogs," directed by Pierre Lagueiniere. Leaving aside the nickname of the theater, whose flair for artistic discoveries could only complement that of the man who first imagined "a play for dogs", this was still its first performance by real people, with flesh and bones.
Geneviève de Brabant, text by Lord Cheminot, was next performed, in Italian, by the puppet theater troupe Monti-Colla of Milan, at La Fenice in Venice, under the direction of Italo Gomez, in April 198330.
The French text was published by Universal as an annex to its latest
edition of the piano score, in 1986.
Le Coeur, October 6-7, 1893, p. 12.
We have therefore resolved, in agreement with Our conscience and confident in the mercy of God, to erect in the metropolis of this Frankish nation, which has gloried in the title of Eldest Daughter of the Church these many centuries past, a Temple worthy of Our Savior, conductor and redeemer of all peoples; We shall make of it a refuge where catholicity and the Arts, which are irrevocably bound together, will grow and prosper under shelter from all profanation and in the total expansion of their purity, which all the efforts of Evil will not tarnish.1889. (Fifth) Gnossienne, dated "July 8, 1889" in the ms10.
After long reflection, We have given to this harbor of revived Faith the name L'église Métropolitaine de l'Art, and have placed it under the divine invocation of Jésus Conducteur. The first, invaluable testimonials of affectionate gratitude and Christian approbation that a great number of Our brothers have deigned to offer have instilled in Our heart at once an ineffable joy and a fortifying seed of courage to resist the pitfalls which Hell may raise before Us.
We implore you therefore, my Brothers, in the name of the Salvation of Humanity, as of our own salvation, to join with Us for the triumph of Our Holy Mother Church, by the purification of Faith and the Arts, which are but one of the pathways by which Providence calls us to Herself, and We kiss You in the Peace and Fraternity of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Given in Paris, in October 1893, the 13th.
Ten years before submitting his collection to Rouart, Lerolle & Cie,
Satie had published the Gnossienne no. 2 in Le Coeur,
no. 6-7, September-October 1893, under the title 6th Gnossienne.
This score, reproduced in facsimile, is dated "April of
'93" and dedicated "to Antoine de La Rochefoucauld".
It already shows the whimsical performance instructions which would
later appear in the Rouart, Lerolle edition. In that same year, Satie
would publish two other Gnossiennes in Le Figaro musical,
no. 24, September 1893, in the "Musical Varieties and
Curiosities" section, under the titles of Gnossienne no. 1
and Gnossienne no. 2. These pieces are not dated and carry no
particular playing instructions or dedications. They would later be
reproduced - this time with playing instructions - in the 1913
collection, as Gnossienne no. 1 and Gnossienne no. 3.
In his otherwise admirable study of Satie's piano music, Jean-Joël
Barbier affirms that the Three Gnossiennes form a coherent
whole and that as a result, one should distinguish them in
performance very distinctly from three other pieces of the same title6.
Perhaps this was a geniune insight, a recommendation that performers
should respect; just the same, the history of these works in print
shows that Satie didn't originally set out to write a triptych. It is
also reasonable that for practical purposes he had Rouart, Lerolle
publish only the Gnossiennes which had already seen print.
An analysis of galley proofs on the first Rouant, Lerolle edition7
show that, in its original state, only the Gnossienne no. 3
(called "no. 2," remember, in Le Figaro musical)
bore the date "1890", and only the Gnossienne no. 2
(called 6th Gnossienne in Le Coeur)
include personalized playing instructions. Those which figure in the
Rouant, Lerolle edition of the Gnossiennes no. 1 and no. 3,
were evidently added at the end of 1912 on a second set of galleys,
Which means, clearly, that we would be mistaken - and a widespread
mistake it is - to assign the date "1890" to Satie's first
use of fanciful playing instructions, and that we also mistakenly
attribute this date to three Gnossiennes taken individually,
under the pretext that Satie so dated the collection as a whole8.
As far as instructions - inasmuch as they are unique to our composer
- are concerned, it is reasonably safe to assume that they made their
first appearance in April 1893, during composition of the 6th Gnossienne,
now known as Gnossienne no. 29.
As for the exact chronology of the seven Gnossiennes composed
by Satie, we will try to determine it here, based on the information
at our disposal:
In his otherwise admirable study of Satie's piano music, Jean-Joël Barbier affirms that the Three Gnossiennes form a coherent whole and that as a result, one should distinguish them in performance very distinctly from three other pieces of the same title6.
Perhaps this was a geniune insight, a recommendation that performers should respect; just the same, the history of these works in print shows that Satie didn't originally set out to write a triptych. It is also reasonable that for practical purposes he had Rouart, Lerolle publish only the Gnossiennes which had already seen print.
An analysis of galley proofs on the first Rouant, Lerolle edition7 show that, in its original state, only the Gnossienne no. 3 (called "no. 2," remember, in Le Figaro musical) bore the date "1890", and only the Gnossienne no. 2 (called 6th Gnossienne in Le Coeur) include personalized playing instructions. Those which figure in the Rouant, Lerolle edition of the Gnossiennes no. 1 and no. 3, were evidently added at the end of 1912 on a second set of galleys, now lost.
Which means, clearly, that we would be mistaken - and a widespread mistake it is - to assign the date "1890" to Satie's first use of fanciful playing instructions, and that we also mistakenly attribute this date to three Gnossiennes taken individually, under the pretext that Satie so dated the collection as a whole8.
As far as instructions - inasmuch as they are unique to our composer - are concerned, it is reasonably safe to assume that they made their first appearance in April 1893, during composition of the 6th Gnossienne, now known as Gnossienne no. 29.
As for the exact chronology of the seven Gnossiennes composed
by Satie, we will try to determine it here, based on the information
at our disposal:
Erik Satie, Sketch of an orchestration for a Gnossienne (ca 1890). (Harvard Univ., The Houghton Library)
With Aldo Ciccolini's latest recording of Erik Satie's complete piano works, EMI has followed my chronology, at least for the six Gnossiennes published to date14. We can also follow, step by step, the evolution of the one form recognizable in Satie as an obsession - the term is Jankélévitch's15 - at several stages and over the course of years.
LA BELLE EXCENTRIQUE
Grande Ritournelle / I
As a result, these four pieces have been performed - and necessarily danced - in the above order for decades3.
Erik SATIE, Sketch for La Belle Excentrique (1920).
(Harvard Univ., The Houghton Library)
The fourth ("Grande Ritournelle") being only an intermezzo designed, as the name indicates, to "return" (at least twice) between the other three.
Despite Satie's indications, admittedly somewhat terse, a comfortable conclusion wouldn't be possible without lending an ear to details of a somewhat anecdotal nature.
For example, the fact that (in Le Coq parisien), it was announced that Mademoiselle Caryathis had worn, for this dance composed especially for her, "three" costumes designed by Nicole Groult7. Also the tale of "Jean Hugo's first failure in his costume-making career," which had to do with "three" costumes he'd imagined for La Belle Excentrique, and that Satie had categorically refused8. All this plainly shows that this work, rather than a dance, should be considered as a series of dances, which explains all the costume changes. The "Grande Ritournelle," written to fill the gaps left by these costume changes, is the only piece not to be danced.
One can find the original running order in Aldo Ciccolini's lastest
recording of Erik Satie's complete piano works9.
Max Eschig has also prepared a corrected edition.
SPORTS & DIVERTISSEMENTS
Indicated as a "work in progress" in the catalogue established by Roland-Manuel in 19162, Sports & Divertissements was described as unpublished in the program of a private recital, which also included a performance of Socrate (1919)3. An unpublished letter, from Lucien Vogel to M. Hepp, director of Rouart, Lerolle & Cie, dated March 6, 1926, written to confirm Vogel's ceding of publishing rights to the latter, confirms that as of February 1923 it still hadn't appeared:
"The publication of Sports & Divertissements", wrote Lucien Vogel, "was an undertaking of my first company (under commission), Lucien Vogel & Cie (...). I paid Erik Satie 150 francs per piece, if memory serves, for the manuscript and all subsequent rights to the same.
"The company of Lucien Vogel & Cie was dissolved after the death of my partner, Emile Lévy, in 1916 (liquidator: Mr Gant, 16 rue de l'Arcade). The work in progress at the time, composed of engraved two-color music plates in reproduction of the manuscript, with original drawings by Charles Martin, was eventually sold to Mr Maynial. In 1922, I made an agreement with Mr Maynial, as head of my new company, 'Les Editions Lucien Vogel et du Bon Ton' to repurchase the rights to this piece (see my letter to Maynial, March 14, 1922). At the very moment that we announced a new edition, substituting newer drawings for the old, drawn by Charles Martin as well, the publishers La Sirène intervened to assert their so-called 'exclusive rights' to publication of all works by Erik Satie (see letters from La Sirène: January 22 and 29, 1923 & February 27, 1923, and my own letters from January 25 and February 5, 16 and 22, 1923). Mr Gant is my witness in this case (...)"4.
The disagreement with La Sirène mentioned in the letter above seems to have been resolved not long after, because Satie's exclusive four-year contract with the publishers was not signed until January 6, 1920, six years after his original contract with Vogel5. Since Paul Collaer's catalogue, published in March 1924, indicates that Sports & Divertissements was treated to a "deluxe edition (L. Vogel)"6, we are confident in dating the work's publication to 1923.
Charles Martin, Le Water-Chute, 1914.
"(...) The preparation with Vogel and Maynial of a large album, Sports & Divertissements, in which twenty plates were to accompany Erik Satie's music, indicates a Martin willing to follow the most arcane procedures. The lines of his compositions are etched with acid - not by his own hand, true - but he has ample evidence as to how this enhances his precise and painstaking graphic art. The copper etchings are finished, all is ready, when war breaks out (...). The war over with, Charles Martin retrieves his finished plates for Sports & Divertissements; but time has passed swiftly; new ideas, germinating since before 1914, have won new hearts and minds: his compositions seem dated, all is to be redone, and he sets to work while succumbing to the influence of cubism (...). It is amusing to compare the first version of Sports & Divertissements with the second: it can be done with one special edition, published by Maynial in only ten copies and containing both series. Despite certain appearances it's not readily apparent that cubist theory had completely expropriated the artist's more traditional ideas. Rather our attention is drawn to another important element, which is his human sensibility. Cubism has done a useful and necessary cleaning job, Martin would say, but it should be admitted that, from purification to purification, one eventually hits a wall which obliges an about-face and a return to classical conceptions. We have profited all the same, on the way back, from what this theoretical period has taught us (...)'8.
These reflections of Charles Martin belong, obviously, to just such a time of "return." The date on the definitive version of his illustrations - 1922 - leads, in any case, to a new interpretation of their extraordinary harmony with Satie's calligraphied plates. Far from comprising - as has commonly been believed - a kind of homage (or at least proof of the composer's esthetic adhering to that of the painter) such harmony seems rather the result of a fascination the painter felt toward the graphic layout of the scores, all the more exceptional at that time.
Given the absence of all correlation between the situations treated by the illustrator and those described in the "instructions" written between the staves9, these two artists must have worked separately and without any collaboration; at the very least Satie must not have been aware of the first version before completing his work. Didn't he dream of one day scoring whole ballets, conceived in silence?10. He would come to realize this dream at least once - unheard-of at the time as well - by composing a score for René Clair's 1924 film "Entr'acte"11.
Thanks to a collector, we can now compare the 1914 illustrations to those of 192212. Below are the two variations as well as Erik Satie's score for "Water-Chute": note how the 1914 picture could very well have inspired Satie's text13, while the 1922 drawing suggests the opposite, a sort of imitation in its play of curved lines; a visual effect parallel to that which the composer often associated with his sound.
Erik SATIE, score of the Choral inappétisant and sketch for Sports et Divertissements, 1914.
Autograph manuscript. (Henri Sauget Collection)
If Vogel had chosen "sports" as the theme of his album, it may have been to capitalize on a newly-developed craze for sporting activities, which offered a varied but unified set of situations. As for the "divertissements" which complete the panoply of distractions favored by the Gazette du Bon Ton's female readers, remember that Sports & Divertissements was also a rubric traditionally used in tourist brochures from Deauville and other beaches in Normandy.
Either way, the choice of subject had to precede the choice of composer. We know that Vogel originally had Stravinsky in mind (a rising star after the "succès-scandale" of the Sacre du Printemps in 1913) and it was only after the latter had turned him down that he appealed to Satie, on the advice of a woman who worked on his staff as a designer: Valentine Gross, later to be Valentine Hugo. Of course it's still possible that our composer was responsible for at least one of the titles in that collection, namely the "Flirt", malicious as it might seem. Certainly this title has left more than one reader perplexed as to its authors' intentions: did they consider flirting a sport? Or rather a diversion? It may not be pointless to recall that on May 15, 1913, the Ballets Russes had just premiered the first ballet in which the plot makes allusions to sporting activities: Jeux by Debussy. In this case, it was a tennis match that quickly grew into romantic competition - a sort of game, both of love and of chance, but also a three-way "flirt", if you will. It seems that Satie first thought of calling the album Jeux et Divertissements. At least this was its title in Roland-Manuel's catalog (1916), which announced its appearance "aux éditions de La Gazette du Bon Ton".
As legend has it, Stravinsky had refused Vogel's commission because his sum appeared insufficient, while Satie had also begun by refusing the sum offered him (and which had to be less than the one Stravinsky refused), for being too high. If this little anecdote squares with Satie's beliefs and his repugnance at mixing the greed of the marketplace with the work of artists, it may not quite square with the truth. A second version, more credible, made its way around certain circles close to the composer in which Satie had a falling-out with Roland-Manuel (who advised him to ask the editor for a certain sum - "hardly agreeable" in Satie's opinion), upbraiding Roland-Manuel for trying to push him into excessive pretentions which could make him lose the commission altogther.
According to notes preserved in his sketchbooks, Satie delivered his
twenty-one pieces in seven groups of three, drawing a corresponding
portion of his fees each time14.
In Lucien Vogel's letter to Rouart, Lerolle & Cie
mentioned above, the agreed-on price would have been 150 francs per
piece (composition and calligraphy included), or 3,150 francs. It is
possible that the plate bearing the "Préface" and
the "Choral inappétissant", unforeseen to begin
with, didn't figure in this total; in his biography of Cocteau,
Steegmuller asserts that Vogel paid Satie during the winter of
1924-25 - thanks to Valentine Gross's intervention - the sum of 3,000
francs, which would have been "the highest he had ever received
up to then"15. In fact,
Steegmuller describes it as payment for "three songs for La
Gazette du Bon Ton," but he could be mistaken16.
The author provides no source for this information but alludes
further on to his conversations with Valentine Hugo. The latter held
fast to an idea of herself as Satie's benefactress, even to the end
of her life, so she could well be indulging in selective memory - the
same kind she has exercised before on the subject of Satie and
Cocteau's first meeting (which she had in fact brought about)17.
Charles MARTIN, Le Pique-Nique (1914). (Private collection)
According to a rough draft from 1914, Satie had a specific running order in mind for his twenty-one pieces, different from that used by the editor, and followed by all performers since. All, that is, except Marcelle Meyer who - no doubt with the blessing of the composer to whom she was very close - gave one of the first performances of this collection in yet a different order 19.
Erik Satie by Igor Stravinsky
SPORTS & DIVERTISSEMENTS
With the sole exception of its dedication "to the Most High, Luminous and Permanent Indivisibility of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity", this booklet has the unique characteristic, as has been shown a number of times, to be printed exclusively in lower case - for the first time in the history of typography, as near as we can determine.
Satie would later publish the four musical fragments of Uspud, this time minus libretto, in an even smaller booklet, which also includes a reproduction of his letter to Alexandre Natanson, dated April 19, 1895, which could therefore be contemporaneous or after5.
R. Casas, Erik Satie, December 1890,
Both of these booklets featured a medallion drawn in charcoal by Suzanne Valadon, in "1892-1893"6, the only difference being that the artist's signature was erased in the 1895 version - Satie perhaps wishing to indicate the definitive break of his "liaison d'amour" with Suzanne Valadon. The first booklet was published at the same time as his affair - between January 14 and June 20, 1893, if we take Satie himself at his word7.
Three successive versions of the Uspud libretto have been discovered to date, of which the latest was published in 1893; both earlier versions remain in manuscript form. In both cases, the text was inserted piecemeal into the score, perhaps to draw some kind of connection between the music and the dramatic action. His bold style also suggests a text meant to be read aloud, alternating perhaps with each musical phrase.
The fact that both manuscripts are in Satie's hand is not itself proof enough to bestow fatherhood for the text on the composer, whose affinity for monkish labor is well-known8.
As for Uspud, in any case, we know from Contamine that the libretto - signed by him alone - was the fruit of his collaboration with Satie9. So it may only have been because of his wish for a sort of balance in the finished results, maybe a kind of literary shyness as well10, that the composer only signed the score.
The first manuscript of Uspud - the oldest - is dated November 17, 189211. The authors defined this date as "the 72nd of the works of hermetic consolation". One could wonder forever about this little formula, as hermetic as the consolations promised by its works. It may be enough to remember that, in occult numerology, 72 is considered "the symbol of solidarity in multiplicity"12.
In its first version, the libretto contains the most varied of
interpolations, many of which are in Contamine's handwriting. Several
years later, Satie would offer it to his friend Ernest Legrand, a
most exotic and secretive composer, who ended up destroying most of
his own work13. Toward the end of
his life, Legrand donated the manuscript in turn to a composer we
have yet to identify14, who finally
bestowed it on its current owner. Thanks to the latter's gracious
cooperation, we are now able to reproduce it completely, for the
first time, all interpolations and repetitions included15.
We will, however, refrain from transcribing the score itself, which
is virtually identical to the posthumous Salabert edition, based as
it is on the second manuscript of Uspud16.
The latter was prepared in the greatest possible haste, on the night
of December 16-17, 1892, our two accomplices suddenly having to give
a "human shape17 to their
work" for their imminent interview with the director of the Opéra.
Erik SATIE, Uspud, fragment of Act III, 1892 (publ. 1893, excerpt)
(Archives de la Fondation Erik Satie), click to enlarge
The third version was prepared - several weeks or months later - in the course of an 1893 edition. More condensed than ever, it can be found in Rollo Myers' biography18.
To set these three versions side-by-side shows that, here as elsewhere, to revise any text (his own or another author's) Satie always proceeded by elimination, tightening, slimming down. The greatest result of this procedure at work would be the libretto of his "symphonic drama" Socrate which he realized by "suppressing" words, paragraphs, chapters, even whole Dialogues, in the works of Plato19.
As Contamine tells it, Satie began by playing Uspud at the
Auberge du Clou, the artists' cabaret at the foot of Montmartre,
where he was employed as "second pianist". Only Debussy, a
regular himself, took the work seriously20.
To silence all this joking and laughter, Satie threatened to have it
staged at the Opéra. After a hilarious run of menacing
letters and challenges to a duel, he would succeed less than a month
later in gaining an audience, for himself and Contamine, with
Eugène Bertrand, director of the Théâtre
National. Already satisfied with this crazy exploit, he settled for
the vaguest of promises21. The
great irony was that, after a long period of obscurity, it was a
successor of Eugène Bertrand (Rolf Liebermann) who took the
initiative to premiere Uspud - if not at the Opéra,
then at least at the Opéra-Comique. All of this coming to
pass, obviously, several decades later than Satie's darkest
predictions to anyone on the fate of his piece.22
Erik Satie's mixups with Mr Bertrand have a hallowed place in the annals of "montmartrois" jokemongering, sometimes with a few spicy variations23. Apart from the anecdote itself, the choice of two performance spaces as widely separated as the Auberge du Clou and the Opéra (to put it as mildly as possible) raises more questions than it answers. It's easy to attribute this choice to the attutude of systematic irreverence that Satie attached to official institutions throughout his life, the fact remains that in the case of his own works, he was never outright irrational. In fact, not one of his compositions seem destined for a well-defined listener, to the point of seeming that a framework of any kind, as long as it proved constraining, was indispensable for him to express himself 24.
A. Grass-Mick, portraits of Satie and Debussy,
Also, instead of reading this assault on the Opéra as simple bravado, we tend to believe that Satie really thought he stood a chance to be heard in this presitigious place. Not in the same way as at the Clou, obviously.
Let's see what could have brought Uspud to the Auberge du Clou in the first place. In the 9th arrondissement of Paris in the avenue Trudaine, not far from the buildings which once housed the Divan Japonais and the Chat Noir, one can still frequent today this mythical place which has kept its name, even its original address. On the ground floor, there's room for just the counter and a few tables. A hall on the second floor, however, is spacious enough for the piano which once accompanied the chansonniers, the main attraction in this neighborhood. As for the basement, now mostly taken up by "la cave du patron", on can still make out, here and there, traces of original frescos painted by Georges de Feure25 . The presence of these paintings suggests that this cellar was once put to better use. Throughout 1892, for example, the Catalan writer, painter and art critic Miguel Utrillo has installed a "Théâtre d'Ombres chinoises" in this room, modelled on that of the Chat Noir26.
At this time, Utrillo was romantically involved with Suzanne Valadon,
having accepted paternity of her seven-year-old son Maurice in 189127
In spite of other hypotheses formulated from time to time (without
proof) of just what brought Satie and Valadon together, the most
plausible is that Utrillo had provoked it himself28
It wouldn't even be stretching the truth to say that the decisive
spark was produced at the very same Auberge du Clou where, not long
before the start of his affair with Suzanne, Satie had composed a
"Noël" on words by Vincent Hyspa for Utrillo's shadow plays29
and that, soon after breaking forever with Suzanne, the latter left Paris entirely30.
It was most likely Satie who provided keyboard accompaniment for the shadow-plays at the Clou. The title "second pianist" they blessed him with could mean simply his use of the "second" house piano, the one in the basement. A piano, or more likely a harmonium, because it was this type of instrument which accompanied the "ombres" at the Chat Noir. For one of the shows at this cabaret, La Marche à l'Etoile, Satie had shared the role of organist with Georges Fragerolle31.
The fact that Utrillo had use of a harmonium for his plays is even more probable, since just such an instrument had sat for a number of years in the various lodgings of Rusiñol and Casas, two other Catalan painters, then fixtures at the Moulin de la Galette. Writing in a Barcelona newspaper about their party on St. Sylvester's Day 1890, Rusiñol described how this old carcass, apparently fit only for the roadshow, suddenly produced the most exquisite sounds, under the fingers of a "musico griego", a nickname indicating none other than Erik Satie, composer - so it was said - of "armonia griega"32. It may be useful to remember here that Patrick Gowers has demonstrated the rigorous use, in Uspud, of a melodic mode based on the chromatic scale of ancient Greece33.
It's often been said that the libretto of Uspud (of which the outrageously stark and lyrical style is in deliberate contrast to any "imperturbable" music) sounds suspiciously like a parody of Flaubert's Tentation de saint Antoine, of which he even quotes certain elements, point by point. That this work was, as Contamine tells it, Erik Satie's bedside reading at the time is no contradiction, our composer having often practiced that exercise, salutary against the dangers of fanaticism, which consists of mocking precisely those things we hold most dear. We also know that Satie's discovery of the shadow-play took place at the Chat Noir, on the occasion of a "féerie à grand spectacle" La Tentation de saint Antoine, a discovery that, according to his brother, made quite a strong impression34. At the beginning of his career at the Clou, Utrillo had also staged an adaptation of this work by Flaubert, an adaptation which was, contrary to the one before, a flat-out comedy. Prefiguring the finale of "Simon du Désert" by Buñuel, Miguel Utrillo's hermit, instead of fleeing the Devil (incarnated as an Epicurean philosopher), chose to follow him - after having thrown his frock into the brambles35.
All of which leads us to believe that this nth variation of La Tentation which is Uspud could well have been conceived directly for the Ombres as well. At least this would explain certains peculiarities in the setting (beginning with a single character, surrounded by numerous apparitions), not to mention the speechifying style of the text. It would also explain those summary allusions to flutes and harps which show up in the score for keyboard and could refer, as Andrew Thomson pointed out, to the flute and harp stops on a harmonium36. This would also explain its first performance at the Clou, home at the time to the only "Théâtre d'Ombres" in Paris besides the one at the Chat Noir at which Satie, angry at Rodolphe Salis, would never show his face again.
But how does one reconcile these conclusions with Uspud's being presented to (not to mention at) the Opéra, where shadow-plays certainly never had pride of place? It's possible that, from the beginning, Satie had dreamed of this alternate solution which alone would justify, in our view, the quality of "ballet" attributed, from the very first manuscript, to a scenario with one single character and music that, among all of Satie's scores, is probably the least apt to be danced. In effect, in February 1891, a "ballet à grand spectacle" based on La Tentation de saint Antoine (libretto by Jaine and G. Duval, music by G. Auvray) had been performed at the Théâtre Lyrique, formerly the Eden Théâtre37. The director of this establishment, from 1891 until his nomination as chief of the Théâtre National de l'Opéra, was Eugène Bertrand himself.
Miguel Utrillo and Eugène Bertrand - both of them theatrical
directors, after all - had recently shown an interest, independent of
each other, for plays inspired by Scripture. Could this not have been
enough to give a couple of young autuers some crazy ideas -
passionate as they were for these very same subjects and impatient to
make it known?
Henri Rivière, Le Sabbat, in La Tentation de Saint Antoine, 1887.
Théâtre du Chat Noir. Ed. Plon, Nourrit et Cie.
The following text is written in red and black ink in a forty-six-page notebook of ruled paper, 16 x 25 cm, paper cover with green crosshatching made by Lard-Esnault, Papeterie-Reliure "founded in 1795", and purchased at H. Lard, 25 rue Feydeau, Paris, where Satie at one time purchased all his music supplies.
The "Several Testimonials" were written out on three sheets of (unruled) white paper later glued into the notebook, no doubt by the authors.
The manuscript is entirely in Erik Satie's hand, except for the two letters addressed "to Erik Satie" and "to his Enemies...", respectively, by Contamine de Latour, as well as numerous signatures by the latter.
Most of the text is written in red ink. Words represented here in bold characters were written in black.
Each fragment of the score is represented by ellipses (...). Music was originally notated in black, except for the treble clefs, which were drawn in red.
The title makes use of a particular graphic style which Satie would reuse in the manuscript of the Danses gothiques (March 1893) in which the letters were double-traced in black, with the spaces between each trace filled with a series of small diagonals in red ink.
Also worth noting are the signatures of the two authors; Contamine's is followed by a single cross, Satie's by two crosses. This manuscript is the only one in which the two crosses added to Satie's signature are not connected. In several documents, all written after Uspud (between 1893 and 1900), this symbol is replaced by two connected crosses - one Greek, the other Latin.
True and accepted genealogical descent of the family of Uspud.
Irnebizolle, sister of Uspud; Jindebude, mother of Saint Plan;
To the Most High, Permanent and Luminous Indivisibility of the Three
Persons of the Holy Trinity
Lutèce, on this 17th day of a gray November, in 1800 and 92
My Most-Beloved Friend;
In spite of these evils of winter, I bring to you Uspud, this mystical and half-Christian ballet, object of your most pure desires; this because you are my brother in humanity, and that nothing having to do with the Regeneration of Intelligence is alien to me, inasmuch as I have been initiated by yourself.
Uspud is not a psychological fact, nor even an immaterial one; but only the pale reflections of those souls released from a terrible Burden and whose thirst for love, conquered by the purification of the senses through pain, makes them altogether indifferent to worldly things; as such, it motivates and makes manifest the most intense expression of moral heroism, and is above all here below who bear witness to it.
I look for neither approval nor criticism; but only the inner Peace which gives me the idea on which it feeds; and for this reason wishes only about me peace, reflection, silence, and for you the sanctification of the Blessed or of Eternity.
And, with Respect, Deference and Veneration, call you "tu":
Very rich young pagan; a young man most handsome and prized in
ancient high society.
Our Holy Mother Church, Jesus crucified, Cherubim, Virgins, Thrones,
Powers & Dominations, etc.; invisible wings; Flaming
Comet-Trails; Stars; assorted Trees & various Animals; Phenomena
and elements of nature.
Paris, 17th day of the month of November of '92
friendly Theme of Superiority and Certitude
After having told me to walk during the Fifty-two Red Months, you left me while gazing upon me with your eyes turned inwards1. And, just as you had announced to me, my right hand brings forth sound and my head has acquired a sensitivity it did not have before; joy is also on my clothing and in my food. I owe to you, Immense Benefactor, after having seen the Swollen2 stretch out their arms which no longer had any hair; and thus is my Penetration broken, which is an unforgettable Pride. I collect and abase myself before your Sacriligious Song.
And with respect, deference and veneration call you:
Erik Satie + +
1As a sign of deep meditation.
2Represents the Pretentious of the world.
by J.P. Contamine de Latour
music by Erik Satie
Act One (...)
Statues, on enormous pedestals, arranged in a half-circle.
In the middle, a table with the leftovers from a feast. To the side, a barrel, the interior of which is studded with nails. In the distance, cadavers and assorted human bones.
Uspud appears at the base of the desert, playing osselets with tibias.
He crushes the tibias
The rising smoke changes
into the wings of Cherubs which tremble in the air;
Uspud falls stricken;
he buries his face in his hands
and reflects deeply. (...)
Aerial saltation of young girls, robed in white and carrying lyres.
Suddenly the sky turns white. A woman of great beauty and transparent
as crystal rises up before Uspud. She is the Christian Church; she
removes her black cape and appears robed in a golden tunic.
Uspud, astonished, takes some sand and rubs his eyes with it.
Then he throws stones at the vision. The stones become globes of fire
which explode violently; the last and largest trails flames behind it.
At the same time an enormous clap of thunder is heard; the statues
fall, their jaws working open and shut.
A volcano erupts in place of the banquet table, and its crater shoots
Uspud falls senseless !
When he awakes, his beard has grown and his hair has turned white.
End of Act One
Saint Chassebaigre, the ingrate;
the blessed Melou, l'estropié;
to the Powerful and Superhuman faith, in Jesus our divine Master,
of the Twelve Apostles
including Judas, before his deplorable betrayal
J.P. Contamine de Latour +
Several testimonials on the quality, usefulness and shining truth contained in this work, as expressed by the spirits of many competent judges from the Hereafter (three hermetic magicians having turned the tables):
Carolus Linnaeus, naturalist
These testimonials, of extremely high value, were obtained by
means of extraordinarily heavy tables.
Same setting. Uspud in a yellow robe and turban.
Uspud reflects deeply on his paganism. He tries to worship the statues, but they change shape and and take on the heads of a dog, jackal, turtle, goat, fish, lynx, tiger, wolf, ox, seagull, unicorn, sheep, antelope, ant, spider, gnu, snake, agouti, a blue billygoat, baboon, cuckoo, crab, albatross, ostrich, mole, secretary bird, an old bull, a red caterpillar, boar, crocodile and buffalo.
Uspud tries to flee, but is surrounded by a circle of black dogs,
each with an enormous golden horn on its forehead, which howl and
tremble as they circle him.
Uspud, frightened, tries to kill himself by leaping into the barrel;
the barrel explodes and then reforms as soon as he turns away. He
addresses a prayer to the statues of the gods, which take the form of
trees and other plants: myrrh, lotus, gum tree, cedar, coconut tree,
aloe, palm, oak, etc.
Rain begins to fall: fetid lakes appear on the ground, and the vapors they release form hideous flying frogs. In the distance we see the glow of a great fire.
An enormous tempest is unleashed; mountains of petrified sand erupt,
great chasms appear, caves open in the earth. The statues fall with a
hellish noise. Uspud annihilated calls on Heaven.
The Christian Church appears, and the dogs flee, howling: crucifixes
fly through the air between bolts of lightning; in the sky Uspud sees
a vision of a pagan tribunal: arrows, execution blocks, racks,
hatchets, red-hot pokers and other instruments of torture all covered
with blood :
He weeps blood, for all the chopped heads and shreds of burned flesh,
for a long time.
The Christian Church expands immeasurably and becomes more transparent;
as she fades away, she reaches out to Uspud, and the vapors and
visions give way to an intense clarity.
An enormous Christ rises from the earth and ascends into Heaven, at
the same time as the Church. When they have disappeared, we hear the
choirs of angels, archangels, cherubs, Powers, Thrones and
Dominations, and the Blessed singing a hymn.
Little by little the light dims, the daylight takes on its usual
brightness. Uspud, alone among the debris of statues and vessels,
raises his arms to Heaven with an ecstatic grin;
then he falls, face forward, and tears his yellow robe, under which
we see a camel-hair shirt.
He tears at his beard as he shouts with all his might:
I am a Christian !
End of Act Two
Abridged from the De Profundis
Prayer for the departed before Act Three
J.P. Contamine de Latour +
Erik Satie + +
To the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Déclamation
Individual Theme of Liturgical Chastity
My child, I have entered into your classrooms; my Spirit was so gentle that you could not have understood me; and my behavior amazed the flowers; because they thought they were seeing the Artificial Zebra1.
And despite my extreme youth & my delicious Agility, by your ignorance you have made me despise the vulgar Art which you teach; by your inexplicable hardness, you have long made me mistrust you.
Now that All Exterior Vegetation2 is in Me, I absolve you of your sins toward me; pray the Lord that he forgives you; bless the unfortunate Souls which you will educate until the day when the Capital Force will tear them from your profane hands and entrust them to the Seraphim of the Virgin Mary.
I have spoken.
Erik Satie + +
1Taken as the true place of a sympathetic being.
2This indicates my great sensitivity for the things of Nature.
To the Dissecting, Immobile and Preparatory
J.P. Contamine de Latour to his Repugnant and Goiterous Enemies
I repudiate you, as On High, as were the Rebellious.
Same decor minus props - except the barrel.
Uspud is prostrate before a crucifix.
For a long time he remains immobile.
Suddenly, he rises, untangles his hair, tears the hem of his robe,
and plunges the scrap of fabric into the barrel; he removes it soaked
with water which he pours on his forehead, saying :
I baptize myself in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
His robe turns green.
Christ rises into the sky. Uspud stretches out his arms to Him.
A profound faith suffuses him : a mystical shining light spreads over
his face : he knows truth and happiness; he dances and claps his
hands; flaming comet trails spin around him.
He stops, seized with an unquenchable thirst for suffering.
A long procession of saints and saint-martyrs parades before him, in
Saint Cléophème spits her teeth into her hand.
Saint Micanar tears at his cheeks; the Blessed Marcomir carries his
head under his arm; Saint Induciomare forces arrows into his legs.
When the procession has disappeared, Uspud hears voices which call him to martyrdom, he sees visions of palms and crowns.
Seized with a frenzy
cuts off his eyelids with
sharp stones and lacerates his body.
He suffers and is happy.
Uspud wishing for death, throws himself into the barrel studded with
nails and rolls about inside;
He climbs out horribly swollen and is chagrined to be still alive.
A black dog, with a golden horn on her forehead passe, followed by pups with Negro features and horses' tails; Uspud takes the pups, tears them apart with his bare hands and waters the ground with their blood; the blades of swords grow on the spot and Uspud rolls on top of them. The black dog begins to howl.
Other dogs arrive with their offspring; they all throw themselves on
Uspud and tear him apart. Christ appears in the sky. We hear a
celestial music; and Uspud dies under the dogs' fangs, crying out :
"I am a martyr !"
End of the Third and Final Act
Erik Satie + + J.P. Contamine de Latour +
Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace.
This work was completed to our great joy
the 72nd of the Works of Hermetic Consolation
J.P. Contamine de Latour +
Erik Satie + +
EDITIONS AND MANUSCRIPTS
Erik Satie's first works were published by his father, a music editor in his spare time. The label "Paris, Alfred Satie éditeur, 66 bd Magenta", address of a stationery store run by the family, appears in the margins of three scores by Erik Satie - one of these being a triptych of songs - published in 1887 and 1888.
As soon as he found a welcoming audience, Satie preferred to compose for specific events and performers. Since he couldn't count on this type of solicitation in the early going, he began by confronting the poems of his close friend José-Patricio Contamine de Latour. However, he hardly tried to render their profound rhythm in musical terms, opposing it with his own.
Even as he chose songs expressly to endear himself to the public, Satie left it to a popular magazine, La Musique des Familles, to print his first waltzes for piano as well as his first Gymnopédie. Waltzes, slow ones particularly, would reappear often in his work.
In 1888, having left home for good and managing to cadge 7,000 francs in the process1, Satie wastes no time in having his third Gymnopédie ("one of the prettiest"2, he would call it in a press release), published at his own expense. He ordered a deluxe edition from the Dupré printing firm: hand-trimmed Bristol paper, title in Gothic characters, the whole printed in red ink. Soon afterwards, he would use an almost identical format for his Ogives, four pieces conceived while contemplating the Gothic arches of Notre-Dame as reconstructed by Viollet-le-Duc3.
He would soon come under the spell of a personage who shared his taste for a certain form of beauty in solemnity. It was "in the name of the Rose+Cross" of which Sâr Péladan was the "Grand Maître", that the Sonneries - which Satie had composed specially for the ceremonies of his Order - were printed, still on quality paper and still by Dupré. It was no random choice to decorate the cover with a sanguine by Puvis de Chavannes, who was his aesthetic model at the time.
Having separated from Peladan, for fear that the Sâr's burdensome company would tarnish his image, Satie took advantage of his first consistent income of any kind (perhaps the generosity of a friend) to publish the 1st and 2nd Gymnopédies under the same conditions as the third piece of that title.
By contemplating these editions together, Claude-Achille Debussy was seduced to the point of orchestrating two of the three pieces, the only works of another composer to which he ever spontaneously donated a bit of his time. With the exception of a "Sarabande" which would later be seen as influenced by the 2nd Sarabande of Satie, these orchestrations were the only works Debussy managed to finish in 1896, probably the year when the two composers were closest. As if reminding us that the 3rd Gymnopédie was the first to be published, Debussy reversed the titles of the two pieces in his orchestrated version. Without taking the slightest offense, Satie went so far as to copy out carefully by hand the orchestrations sketched by his friend, as a service to the publisher Emile Baudoux, who agreed to print them.
The privilege of benefitting from an orchestration by Debussy, already in high esteem, brought Satie the first performance of any of his works in a traditional concert hall - on February 20, 1897, under the auspices of the highly respected Société Nationale. The conductor was Gustave Doret, "the blond Doret, wild for the music of Erik Satie", l'Ouvreuse du Cirque d'Eté (Henri Gauthier-Villars, a/k/a Willy) wrote later, not without some asperity4.
Thanks to the contact furnished by Debussy, Baudoux also published the preludes of Fils des Etoiles, "wagnérie kaldéenne" by the Sâr Peladan, in a sumptuous edition printed in red and prefaced by a "Dédicatoire" from Erik Satie "to his peers", reproduced in facsimile of the autograph manuscript, which was drawn in red ink on a sheet of paper decorated with the symbol of the "Eglise Métropolitaine d'Art de Jésus Conducteur," which the composer founded "to attack society by way of music and painting"5.
Within the group of Publications by the "Eglise," but under
the seal, already used by Gide and Claudel, of the Librairie de l'Art
Indépendant, Satie had also published at his own expense a
portion of the Messe des Pauvres, "Commune qui mundi
nefas" and a fragment of plainchant, "Intende votis
supplicum." Two brochures which, in addition to the
"Christian ballet" Uspud, confirm his taste for a
hodge-podge of media, pages of music alternating sharply with open
letters and other perfervid tracts, all aimed at the most highly
visible figures of Paris intellectual life.
By accepting Satie's Fils des Etoiles, Emile Baudoux could have had no idea that this character, draped as he was in the dignity of being "Parcier et Maître de Chapelle", would very soon sing another tune to his successors, Bellon, Ponscarme & Cie. In effect, transformed into the Velvet Gentleman by an ensemble of seven identical velvet suits (which he would not leave behind for another seven years or more), turn-of-the-century Satie would feed the repertoires of songster Vincent Hyspa and the "queen of the slow waltz", Paulette Darty, whose superb pink décolleté - photographed by Reutlinger - would contribute more than anything else to the successful launching of his sheet music. One of his songs would later be published in a revue dedicated to the "humor of Hyspa"6, while two others were featured in a special number of the Album musical which reprinted the same chansonnier's "ten greatest hits".
Erik SATIE, Gymnopédie, Publ. Dupré, 1888
The charms of the music-hall could not hold Satie for long: would he not come to judge this milieu "dumber and dirtier than nature"?7. Only toward the end of his life would he recognize his debt to popular music: "The music hall, the circus have a true innovative spirit"8.
Deciding once more, and not for the last time, to start all over again, Satie hocks his velvet suit for the uniform of a minor bureaucrat. This anonymous getup, designed to make a man invisible during his journey in the desert, made the explosive nature of his work stand out all the more clearly by contrast.
This from an Everyman in his forties who returned humbly to school to learn counterpoint from a professor younger than himself. Having judged the first fruits of his studies as too unripe to justify the search for a publisher, it was the turn of the publisher to come to him - in the person of Alexis Rouart, soon to be associated with his cousin Jacques Lerolle.
Encouraged by the campaign in favor of Satie's role as "precursor", waged in the early 1910s by Ravel and the "jeunes Ravêlites", with the help of the S.M.I. and the S.I.M.9, Rouart, Lerolle & Cie started by reprinting the works in Baudoux's catalog which they had just purchased, soon after to publish themselves a number of pieces which Satie long had under wraps: the Morceaux en forme de poire (1903), Trois Gnossiennes (1890), as well as three "Airs à faire fuir" and three "Danses de travers" which he combined under the title Pièces froides (1897), perhaps to emphasize that they weren't published hot out of the oven...
In all the confusion, and against the advice of the Jeunes Ravêlites, hostile as they were to d'lndy and the establishment he built - this Schola Cantorum, Satie's self-imposed finishing school - our composer succeeded in having Rouart, Lerolle & Cie publish his latest work, En Habit de Cheval, of which the title evokes the constraints all good students must suffer. He will claim to have invented, for that very occasion, "the modern fugue which never existed before, especially the expositions"10.
As soon as he laid hands on the first galley proofs of his Pièces
froides, Satie wasted no time in showing them to the great
pianist Ricardo Viñes, already linked to Ravel and Debussy,
of whom he would make an active accomplice in years to come.
The austere period of the Schola behind him, the time has come to recreate himself yet again. Leaving his "habit de cheval" and other vexing restraints behind, he now throws himself into a playful genre which he would himself call "fantaisiste" in tribute to a certain school of poetry which manipulates the smallest phonemes with subtlety and skill - to which he also testified with his sounds.
For this latest series, he would often use material excerpted from the works of other composers, reserving for them a special treatment which sometimes takes on an air of twisting (if not dynamiting) away from a certain cultural heritage. What he manipulated were the "embryos" of melodies, reduced to their simplest possible expression - which is to say "dried", then "turned every which way", or even confronted with others by an "automatic" process of free association. Also, each score constitutes a self-contained puzzle whose key is, in general, hidden in the playing instructions, presented under cover of little stories with poetic humor.
The listener having to take in this music by an almost subliminal path, without the distracting weight of words, the job of decoding is reserved for the pianist: "It's a secret, Satie explains, between the interpreter and me". It was during his "fantaisiste" period that he paid most attention to notions of sound and its duration, to the point of defining himself as a "phonometrographer" ("I have more satisfaction in measuring a sound than hearing it")11.
Even as he continued to exploit his caf'conc' songs, inherited from Bellon, Ponscarme & Cie, the firm of Rouart, Lerolle & Cie seemed content to confine him to a role as author of the Gymnopédies. For his "fantaisiste" pieces, Satie began the inevitable quest for a new publisher.
After an initial failure with Jacques Durand (publisher of Debussy and Ravel) - who returned his manuscript "like a glove" - Satie obtained, on the strength of a single interview, a contract with E. Demets. It was Demets, then, who reaped the abundant harvest of these years - except, of course, its summit: the collection Sports & Divertissements, commissioned by Lucien Vogel. As an illustrated album, truly a jewel of published music, this collection would not see print for nine years, because the war which exploded into being in August 1914 dealt a near-fatal blow to all artistic production and display. Satie temporarily gave up composing, since - perhaps even more than his colleagues - he needed an audience of active listeners to express himself.
The war would follow its course for several years, but artists did not keep silent quite as long, because the smallest pretext must have been good for a performance of any kind. There was still talk in the cafés of Montparnasse, for example, of the sumptuous production of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Max Reinhardt in Berlin, in 1910. Edgard Varèse, who contributed to the musical portion, encouraged his friends to prove that the French could do even better. After all, as Jean Cocteau observed when he nominated himself to adapt the play, the Englishman Shakespeare is an "Ally;"; he couldn't be on the side of the Huns!12 Theatres being dark for the duration, they planned to use the grounds of the Cirque Médrano, which led to the idea of, among other things, mixing clowns with actors. As for the incidental music, they would replace Mendelssohn (traditional for the play at that time) with a "pot-pourri of French music", composed especially for the occasion. Among the composers solicited, Satie was the only one to answer the call. His Cinq Grimaces were destined from the beginning to be unplayed and unpublished until much later, as a posthumous work13, since the Midsummer project came to naught. He could not have grieved for long, because there were performances of several of his works to attend for the dedication of the Salle Huyghens, the atelier of a painter from Montparnasse which Blaise Cendrars - having returned from the front minus one arm - had transformed into a concert hall and which would soon be used as an art gallery as well. An "Instant musical" by Erik Satie accompanied the first group exhibit (Picasso, Modigliani, Ortiz de Zarate and Kisling) which also included, for the first time, Negro sculptures presented not for their ethnological value, but for their artistic qualities. For two years, the Salle Huyghens would never want for an audience. Seeing Parisiens quickly take up their habitual passion for life and art, despite the bombs and the artists' comings and goings at the front, music publishers would soon get back to work themselves. And so Rouart, Lerolle & Cie brought out, among other things, a number of Satie's new compositions: some pieces for piano and three songs, not to mention the ballet Parade which brought Satie and Picasso together - the very same Parade which Cocteau dared to call "the greatest battle of the war". Dragged into court at the height of this battle by the critic Jean Poueigh who accused him of slander, Satie feared the seizure of his modest royalties as agreed by his publishers. Faced with the risk of losing all possibility of financial help (he was never exactly spoiled in this sense, anyway), he simply switched allegiances and offered his subsequent work - a Sonatine bureaucratique - to a fly-by-night publisher named Stéphane Chapelier. This Chapelier had shown a great admiration for the ballet then under fire by arranging several excerpts himself, under the pseudonymn Hans Ourdine ("en sourdine" translates as "muted") with a totally Satiean modesty.
The war finally over with (at roughly the same time as his run-in with the law), five Nocturnes came to haunt the composer's mind. The first three made up a "complete work" in his opinion14, so he was careful to distinguish them from the remaining two by not submitting the two groups to the same publisher. They were, in fact, his "parting gifts" to Rouart, Lerolle and E. Demets, because his friend Blaise Cendrars - who had just founded La Sirène with the financier Paul Laffitte - managed to score an exclusive contract. At Cocteau's urging, the factory siren Cendrars used as inspiration for the name became a feminine silhouette with the tail of a fish 15.
It fell, therefore, to La Sirène to publish, in 1920, his crowning work which is
the "drame symphonique" Socrate, "pure and white as the
ancient world". La Sirène would also publish the products of a
highly effervescent climate as envisioned by Cocteau and the Six,
like La Belle Excentrique, a sly wink at the music-hall of days gone by,
a nostalgic trifle.
Logo for the Library of Independent Art,
La Sirène's activities having slowed considerably after 1922, Satie looked to escape his contract. At the very same time - coincidence or consequence of his little deception? - his output grows sparse. The Musique d'Ameublement - which he had every plan to disseminate on on a vast scale, a thing of mass production, was taken seriously by no publisher (like every other effort he ever made to increase the number of musical genres.) It's worth noting that the following works went unpublished in his lifetime: a composition to accompany the reading of a literary text (Leitmotiv pour "Le Panthée", The Dreamy Fish, The Angora Ox, Les Pantins dansent), as well as music composed for himself alone: (Danses gothiques, Vexations).
Near the end, overcome with illness and directing all his energies toward his last commissions (the ballets Mercure for Count Etienne de Beaumont's Soirées de Paris and Relâche for the Ballets Suédois), Satie had no plans to publish the first of these scores. As for the second, which includes the "entr'acte symphonique" Cinéma, it would become the product of his very last contract, signed at Saint-Joseph Hospital - where Jacques Lerolle, knowing him to be in danger, hurried to acquire the rights to five minuscule songs, the Ludions, on poems by Léon-Paul Fargue.
Satie died on July 1, 1925. Having forced open the door of the "Four Chimneys", the inside of which nobody else had seen for thirty years, his friends discovered dozens of the tiny notebooks he always carried in his pockets, forever ready to seize an idea on the run. Didn't Apollinaire see him one evening, in the middle of the street, taking notes by gaslight? And didn't Blaise Cendrars discover him composing while lying under the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde during an air raid?17
His notebooks contained a number of unpublished works. Believing himself unable to gauge their worth, Conrad Satie (whose devotion to his older brother could be compared to that of Théo Van Gogh for Vincent), entrusted them to Darius Milhaud, whose qualifications as a musician and a friend he never had reason to doubt.
After a quick initial study, Milhaud split the pieces he considered
worthy of publication between Rouart, Lerolle and Universal
of Vienna - the city which had had the courage to defend, through the
intermediary Arnold Schönberg (yes, Monsieur Boulez...), the
music of Satie and Les Six, at a time when the latter had not quite
won the day.
Forced to leave France during the Nazi invasion, Milhaud donated the manuscripts that he had had time to examine to the Bibliothèque du Conservatoire de Paris; he had already put several examples on display at the Violon d'lngres exposition which took place in December 1938 and January 1939, at the Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet. He carried the rest to the United States where they were featured in a 1940 exhibit at Mills College, California, at the headquarters of the Boston Symphony and at the Chicago Art Club; they ended up in Dumbarton Oaks thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wood-Bliss, then ultimately in the Houghton Library at Harvard.
In 1965, the pianist and musicologist Jean-Joël Barbier published a new edition of the Ogives with Le Chant du Monde, originally printed by Satie in a tiny vanity edition. One year later, for the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth, François Lesure organized an exhibit of the manuscripts conserved in the Bibliothèque du Conservatoire which he then transferred to the music department at the Bibliothèque nationale, of which he was director at the time18.
Under the initiative of Robert Caby, who befriended Satie at the end, éditions Salabert (along with their offshoot, Musique Contemporaine) and Max Eschig found much in this lot to enrich their respective catalogs. Most were uneven in their musical value; fragments and unfinished sketches were published alongside other works with which Satie had evidently been satisfied, since he had taken the time to sign and date them. Salabert having acquired the Rouart, Lerolle catalog in the meantime, also picked up the pieces which had been published earlier by E. Baudoux, Bellon, Ponscarme & Cie, and Lucien Vogel. Max Eschig, who succeeded Demets after 1924, purchased the Sirène backlist in 1943 (it had belonged to Michel Dillard since 1927). Still following its solitary little path, the Sonatine bureaucratique passed in December 1917 to Louis Philippo, along with the rest of the éditions Chapelier (including its director), to wind up in 1975 with Combre, successor to Philippo. Erik Satie's work has largely lapsed into the public domain, and new editions have appeared sporadically in certain countries;19, in Japan, taking advantage of more lenient copyright law, two firms - Doremi Music and Zen On - each have published a "Complete Works" for piano.
Conrad only entrusted the musical manuscripts to Darius Milhaud and kept the various drawings and literary texts for himself. Some of the latter went to auction at the Hôtel Drouot on March 28, 1933 (expert G. Andrieux), others were offered to some of Satie's friends (not to mention his first biographer), still others stayed with Conrad and disappeared in the destruction of his house - apparently provoked by grudge-bearing neighbors after his death.
Other manuscripts, most of them musical, all of them designed with the greatest possible care, were passed around by Satie himself; some went to publishers and patrons, others to people who had helped him along the way, or those whom he quite simply wished to please. Some of them are jealously guarded by the descendants of their original owners, others were donated to Harvard or to the Bibliothèque nationale; still others wound up at the auction house or in the hands of autograph dealers to find their place in a private collection (generally Anglo-Saxon) or at various institutions such as the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet - or even the Fondation Erik Satie.
SCHOLARLY WORK ON ERIK SATIE
Anne REY, Dada et le pré-surréalisme dans l'oeuvre d'Erik Satie, D.E.S., dir. J. Chailley, Univ. de Paris, 1967.
Marie-Claude FLEURIEL, L'oeuvre de piano d'Erik Satie, Mémoire de Maîtrise, dir. E. Weber, Univ. de Paris-Sorbonne, 1978.
Mireille BERTHE, Parade, ballet cubiste, Mémoire de Maîtrise, dir. M. Honegger, Univ. de Strasbourg II, 1979.
Chr. SIRE, Le Socrate d'Erik Satie, Mémoire de Maîtrise, dir. J. Bellas, Univ. de Toulouse II, 1979.
P. DUCHESNE, Les langages d'Erik Satie dans sa musique pour piano (...), Mémoire de Maîtrise, dir. J.M. Bailbé, Univ. de Rouen, 1980.
Frédéric BOUESNARD, De la spiritualité en architecture :
Françoise CAILLEUX, Erik Satie et l'aphorisme, Mémoire de Maîtrise, dir. J.R. Julien, Univ. de Paris-Sorbonne, 1985.
Bernard CLANET, Essai sur une personnalité particulière:
Erik Satie, Mémoire, dir. P. Morel, Univ. de Caen,
Faculté de Médecine (Certificat d'Etudes
Spéciales de Psychiatrie), 1985.
Michèle MADONNA-DESBAZEILLE, La musique expérimentale
en Angleterre depuis 1968 (p. 26-46, "Erik Satie: une
leçon de simplicité"), Thèse de Doctorat
d'Etat, dir. P. Rafroidi, Univ. de Lille II, 1983.
Outside of France
William Patrick GOWERS, Erik Satie: his studies, notebooks and critics, Ph. D., Cambridge Univ., 1965.
Barbara FERRELL HILL, Characteristics of the music of Erik Satie that suggests the Id, D.M.A., dir. H. Waltz, Univ. of Colorado, 1966.
Alan Murray GILLMOR, Erik Satie and the concept of the Avant-garde, Ph.D., dir. A. M. Walter, Univ. of Toronto, 1972.
Giuseppina CAMPIOTTI, Erik Satie nella cultura del suo tempo, Tesi di Laurea in Lettere, Univ. Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milano), dir. S. Martinotti et G. Vecchi, 1973.
A. Margery A. KOON, Aspects of harmonic structure in piano works of Erik Satie, D.M.A., Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1974.
Earl ROSENBAUM, Erik Satie, Parade, M.A., The California State Univ., 1974.
Charles Timothy BLICKHAN, Erik Satie: "Musique d'Ameublement " with dialectics for orchestra, D.M.A., The Univ. of lllinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1976.
Massimo PRIVITERA, Erik Satie: Produzione & Riproduzione, Tesi di Laurea, dir. G. Stefani, Univ. di Bologna, 1981.
Marie-Isabelle COLLART, Biblio-discographie descriptive d'Erik Satie, musicien et écrivain, Liège, Institut Provincial d'Etudes et de Recherches Bibliothéconomiques, 1982.
Steven M. WHITING, Erik Satie and Parisian musical entertainment,
1888 to 1909, D.M.A., Univ. of Illinois, 1984.
Geneviève MURITH, La Musique: un produit de consommation, Mémoire (Brevet de Musique), dir. A. Wenziker, Conservatoire de Musique de Lausanne, 1984.
We are looking for the following documents, not located as of 1987. For each document, we have listed all essential information of which we are currently aware (genre, first printing and/or premiere, performances, patrons).
a.n.i. : author not identified.
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPTS BY ERIK SATIE
MANUSCRIPTS BY OTHERS
"La Perdition", poem, Contamine de Latour.
2 Miriam CENDRARS, "Les métamorphoses d'un Ballet suédois", in Continent Cendrars, no. 1, 1986. Pages 23-24 show an autograph manuscipt reproduced in facsimile - edited in 1952 and conserved in the Bibliothèque de Berne - in which Blaise Cendrars revendique without proof the creator of the "entracte cinématographique." <return to text>
3 Relâche, first performed December 4, 1924, was the final production by the Ballets Suédois, without counting a holiday revue ("Ciné-Sketch") mounted by René Clair and Picabia, with music by Satie, for St. Sylvester's in 1924. The Ballets Suédois ceased to exist in March 1925. <return to text>
4 This revival of Relâche took place in Florence, at the Teatro Comunale, as part of the XXXIIIe Maggio musicale fiorentino in 1970. Pour la circonstance, René Clair n'avait plus tenu compte de l'argument de Picabia et avait complètement réécrit le scenario avec le concours du chorégraphe Aurelio M. Milloss. Il avait conservé, en revanche, les décors d'origine, reconstitués par Jacques Dupont. <return to text>
5 This version was first shown in Paris, at Le Racine, in October 1968; the soundtrack recording was directed by Henri Sauguet. - See the article "René Clair,'Entr'acte,' A nous la Liberté" in L'Avant-Scène-Cinéma, no. 86, November 1968. <return to text>
6 As legal executor of the Ballets Suédois, producers of the film "Entr'acte" by René Clair, M. Bengt Häger, director of the Dansmuseet in Stockholm, is somewhat less categorical. It's hard to understand, after all, that it could be forbidden (as Mme René Clair and Pathé-Cinéma see it) to perform Erik Satie's work under the conditions in which the author conceived it, which is to accompany the projection of the film with real, flesh-and-blood musicians. <return to text>
7 We have been able to intervene in some cases, most notably at the Cineteca Italiana in Milan, to restore the editing to the sequence intended by its authors. <return to text>
8 Twelve separate works (and four translations) on Erik Satie - in which many of the composer's own writings are published for the first time - have come out since 1974, as opposed to two sole monographs published, in 1932 and 1948, since his death in 1925. <return to text>
Satie had composed this work for the orchestra of the Ballets Suédois, directed in this instance by Roger Désormière. The autograph manuscript of the orchestral score, originally belonging to Désormière, is presently housed at the University of Texas, Austin, Harry Ramson Humanities Research Center.
The piano score must still have preceded the orchestral transcription, which conforms to Satie's working habits; there were to be no "reductions" after the first performances of Relâche, because Satie already suffered from the illness which would claim him six months later.
Darius Milhaud transcribed Relâche and "Cinéma" for piano four hands in 1926. <return to text>
10 René CLAIR, "Picabia, Satie et la première d''Entr'acte'", in Le Figaro littéraire, June 1967. <return to text>
11 To re-establish the exact
synchronization of music to film, as imagined by the composer, the
film must run at its original frame rate, which was 16 frames per
second in 1924. In his 1967 restoration, René Clair adapted
"Entr'acte" to the 24 frames-per-second standard in use
today. <return to text>
GENEVIEVE DE BRABANT
2 Paul COLLAER, "Catalogue de l'oeuvre d'Erik Satie", in Arts & Lettres d'Aujourd'hui, IIe année, no. 11, Brussels, March 16, 1924, pp. 255-257. <return to text>
3 Darius MILHAUD, Notes sans musique, Paris, Julliard, 1940, pp. 198-199. - According to other oral sources, the story of the bus only concerned Jack, the score of which Satie had copyrighted at SACEM in 1905. <return to text>
4 Harvard University, Houghton Library, Satie's Manuscripts, no. 15. <return to text>
5 Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique, Fonds Erik Satie, Ms 15 333. <return to text>
6 Play by Dépaquit with incidental music, was first performed by the Rideau de Paris, in a program dedicated to "The Humor of Erik Satie" at the Salle d'Iéna, November 29, 1937. <return to text>
7 La Revue musicale, V, no. 5, March 1, 1924, pp. 208-216. <return to text>
8 The initials J.P. have intrigued Satie's biographers, who often plump for either Jean-Pierre or Jean-Paul. We now know for certain that this great companion of the composer's youth - Patrice to his friends - was named José-Maria, Vicente, Ferrier, Francisco de Paula, Patricio, Manuel Contamine and that he was born in Tarragone (Catalonia), on March 17, 1867. He died in Paris, May 2, 1926, after marrying - in extremis - for the third time. According to P.D. Templier, he met the composer through the intercession of some minor modistes he was courting at the time. Satie called him "le vieux Modeste" or "Ch'timi" ("cher ami" in the patois of Arras where he had done his military service). Templier goes on to mention that Contamine claimed descent from Napoleon (P.D. TEMPLIER, Erik Satie, Paris, Rieder, 1932; repr. Plan-de-la-Tour, Ed. Aujourd'hui, coll. Les Introuvables, 1975, p. 12). Michel Herbert reports that a certain "Condamine [sic] de Latour, pretender to the French Crown", took part in the "cabaret artistique" Chez Bruault, in the Latin Quarter (M.H., La Chanson à Montmartre, Paris, La Table Ronde, 1967, p. 277.
Journalist by profession, Contamine signed "P. Contamine de Latour" three articles entitled "Erik Satie intime, Souvenirs de jeunesse" in Comoedia, August 3, 5 and 6, 1925; and "J.P. Contamine de Latour" poems and other new writings between 1887 and 1889, as well as the libretto to Uspud, 1892. One of his poems, "Miroir plein," was published in La Lanterne japonaise, I, no. 7, December 8, 1888. Another poem, "Parfum d'avril", dated "April 1888" and dedicated to Erik Satie, a fait l'objet d'une plaquette, s.l.n.d. Several other poems by "J.P. Contamine de Latour" were set to music by either Erik Satie or Charles Lévadé. We also find his Cinq Nouvelles under this signature (the first, "Miriam", is dedicated to Erik Satie) and published in Paris, Société des Publications Internationales, 1889. An excerpt of a poem by J.P. Contamine de Latour, "La Perdition", written in quill pen, figure en exergue in the autograph of Satie's first Sarabande, 1887) B.N., Fonds E. Satie, Ms 14 457). It was most likely in another of his friend's poems, "Les Antiques", that the composer first came across the word "gymnopédie" (an excerpt of this poem has been published en exergue in the (first) Gymnopédie, in La Musique des Familles, August 18, 1888).
Besides Geneviève de Brabant, Contamine signed "Lord Cheminot" another play, Monsieur Mouche, and two fairy tales, The Dreamy Fish and The Angora Ox - an even more bizarre title than the famous "Boeuf sur le toit", which would later fire the imagination of so many). Satie composed a score for all three of these pieces, all unfinished and unpublished in his lifetime - The Dreamy Fish in March 1901, and Prélude pour "La Mort de Monsieur Mouche", April 21, 1900, were finally published between 1968 and 1970 by Salabert. A short story by Lord Cheminot, La Veilleuse, was printed without author's credit in a review called Humour 1900 by Jean-Claude Carrière, Paris, Ed. Ditis, J'ai lu l'essentiel, 1963, p. 322-323.
In "1892-1893", Suzanne Valadon made charcoal drawings of J.P. Contamine de Latour and A.L. Erik Satie in profile, superimposed on a medallion designed for the cover of Uspud and reproduced in P.D. Templier, Op. cit., plate XI, and in L'Ymagiér d'Erik Satie by O. Volta, Francis Van de Velde/Opéra de Paris, 1979, p. 30. On the basis of physical characteristics visible in this portrait, Patrice Contamine has been tentatively identified in two photos conserved in the archives of the Fondation Erik Satie and reproduced in P.D. Templier, Op. cit., plates XIX, 1 and XXV. In the first, we see Satie decked out in his Velvet Gentleman suit, having dinner in the company of the alleged Contamine - a gentleman of somewhat darker complexion with an impressively well-tended mustache - in a restaurant decorated with a painting strongly suggstive of a Spanish artist, as well as two drawings by Erik Satie featuring a pair of knights. They are the exact doubles, (if not the geniune article) of two drawings now kept in the archives of Darius Milhaud and reproduced L'Ymagiér d'Erik Satie, p. 99). In the second photo, Satie wears a more "everyday" suit and a straw boater, and the supposed Contamine, with fuller hair and a mustache trimmed down in relation to the other photo, are seated on the terrace of a "Brasserie", situated at no. 60 on an unidentified street. The tavern owner and two waiters, wearing long aprons, also posed for this photo, with several other customers. <return to text>
9 Which proves again that in 1919 a sister of Patrice Contamine, Barbara, married - only to divorce three years later - Henry Pacory, lyricist of the caf'conc' song "Je te veux" by Erik Satie. Pacory was born in Arcueil-Cachan, the suburb in which Satie lived for the last twenty-seven years of his life, and he may well have played a role in Satie's choice of address. <return to text>
10 P. CONTAMINE DE LATOUR, "Erik Satie intime", art. cit. <return to text>
11 "Impérial Oxford" and "Légende californienne", submitted to the SACEM as "songs without words", August 18, 1905. On his declaration form, in the blank labeled "Authors", the name J.P. Contamine de Latour was written then scratched out in both cases. The manuscripts of these scores carry no text whatsoever (Harvard Univ., Ms n. 34). <return to text>
12 Voir supra. <return to text>
14 Série aux Armes d'Epinal, no. 301, Imagerie d'Epinal, Pellerin & Cie. - See Pierre LAGUEUINIERE, "Debussie? Jarry? Saty? A Dada?", in Les Chiens Jaunes, Journal de théâtre, no. 14, February 1983. <return to text>
15 See "Schumann, Genoveva", in L'Avant-Scène-Opéra, no. 71, January 1985, p. 145. <return to text>
In the early stages of their friendship, Satie made known to Debussy his plans to write incidental music for Maeterlinck's La Princesse Maleine. Debussy not long afterward requested permission from the Belgian dramatist for this very same work, forcing Satie to renounce his project, no doubt with some bitterness. It was Pelléas and not La Princesse Maleine in which Maeterlinck and Debussy ultimately met. See also the elliptical and slightly romanticized version of this story in Jean Cocteau, "Fragments d'une conférence sur Erik Satie", in La Revue musicale, V, no. 5, March 1, 1924, p. 221. The ins and outs of Debussy's treatment for La Princesse Maleine have been described by Léon VALLAS, Claude-Achille Debussy, Paris, P.U.F., 1949, p. 213-214. The score, with no author's name, of a "Menuet de la Princesse Maleine" - of which the title is hand-written in the Gothic characters which Satie affected in the early 1890s - figure in a painting by Maurice Denis, "Marthe au piano", 1891, priv. coll., reproduced in the catalog of an exhibit called "Erik Satie e gli artisti del nostro tempo" by O. Volta, Chiesa della Manna d'Oro, Festival des Deux Mondes, Spoleto, 1981, pl. X. A drawing by Maurice Denis (precursor to to the stained-glass "Femmes au ruisseau", 1894, Musée du Prieuré) also adorns the cover of this score. We know that Maurice Denis also illustrated, in 1892, La Demoiselle élue by Debussy (published in 1893). The latter, of which Alfred Bruneau confirmed in 1897 that he had written several pages for La Princesse Maleine, never drew the titles of his scores in Gothic characters of any kind. Maurice Denis used none for the title page of La Damoiselle élue, either. As of 1987, we discovered that it was in Gothic letters that the title of Maeterlinck's La Princesse Maleine appears in the original edition (Brussels, Paul Lecomblez, 1890), which of course leaves all hypotheses open. <return to text>
16 These few hasty notes, taken by Conrad Satie on September 30, 1914, after a conversation with his brother, show clearly that Satie considered Debussy - even in everyday life - a paternal figure who could terrorize you, all the while fostering an irresistible giggle-fit: "Erik and Debussy. Their intimate friendship;. How the other scolds him. Jupiter. Chouchou, nine years old, Debussy and Kiki (Erik)'s daughter. Playing at bows and arrows. They walk down the promenade, are scolded..." (coll. part.). <return to text>
17 After Pelléas, summit of an esthetic in which he believed to have a hand in forging; Satie would later say: "Either I find somthing else, or I am lost". Not long after, at the age of thirty-nine, he would return to school to take up the study of counterpoint. <return to text>
19 The proceeds from this Festival were to fund a grave monument for Satie, carved by Brancusi, in the little cemetery of Arceuil. The receipts having proved insignificant - 580 francs in all, despite the most brilliant of audiences (Tout-Paris had been invited) - they gave up on the sculptor's contribution (without consulting him, by the way) and covered the grave of Erik Satie with '"an ordinary stone, of which they turn out millions every year, around all the various cemeteries of all the cities in which men live. It's certainly proper and convenient, but it's as sad and ridiculous as death itself" (extract of a letter from Conrad Satie to Brancusi, s.d., reproduced in Brancusi, by Pontus Hulten, N. Dimitresco and A. Istrati. Paris, Flammarion, 1986, p. 167). <return to text>
20 At the Chat Noir, the silhouettes of the théâtre d'ombres were cut out of cardboard, when nobody had the means to purchase zinc. <return to text>
21 Marcel Proust described the projections of a magic lantern show based on Geneviève de Brabant and the charm they exerted on him; they transformed the walls of his room into "a multicolored stained-glass window, shifting from moment to moment;" (Du côté de chez Swann, Ed. de la Pléiade, p. 9). <return to text>
22 This work was first performed on June 25, 1923 in the private salon of Princess Edmond de Polignac, avenue Henri Martin. For the details of this performance, se El Retablo de Maese Pedro by O. Volta, in the program printed by La Fenice of Venice, for a revival of this play in April 1983. Geneviève de Brabant by Lord Cheminot was also on the program. <return to text>
23 All documentation relating to the Festival Erik Satie, 1926, is conserved in the archives of the Fondation Erik Satie. <return to text>
24 The series of nine drawings by André Derain for Geneviève de Brabant, gouache on paper 33.5 x 24.5 cm - plus several rough sketches - is now conserved in the Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet, Mss 11 147, 1 to 9. <return to text>
25 Désormière had conducted the premiere of Mercure at the Théâtre de la Cigale, for Count Etienne de Beaumont's Soirées de Paris, on June 15, 1924, and of Relâche at the Théàtre des Champs-Elyseés, for the Ballets Suédois of Rolf de Maré, on December 4, 1924. <return to text>
26 This choreography is generally dated 1925. According to documentation conserved in the archives of Count de Beaumont (donated to the Fondation Satie), Adolph Bolm was not aware of the score for Geneviève until January 1926. <return to text>
27 Universal 1930, renewed 1968; piano, UE 9386; orchestra UE 9956. <return to text>
28 See Claude-Françoise BRUNON, "Geneviève en image et en chanson", in L'Avant-Scène-Opéra, no. 71, January 1965, p. 22-27. <return to text>
29 The name "J.P Contamine dé Latour" (the only one Satie's friends ever recognized) is now understood as the pseudonym Lord Cheminot, thanks to information furnished by Conrad Satie after the death of his brother. <return to text>
30 The text in French and the Italian translation of Lord
Cheminot's play, undertaken by our efforts, were published in the
program that evening. <return to text>
2 Erik SATIE, Morceaux en forme de poire, avec une Manière de Commencement, une Prolongation du même & un En Plus, suivi d'une Redite, September 1903. Autogr. Ms., 30 p., Bibliothèque de l'Opéra de Paris, Rés. 218. <return to text>
3 This particular Gnossienne - obviously untitled - is located at the end of Act One of Fils des Etoiles, Thème de la Volonté. Composed in 1891 for the Soirées de la Rose+Croix, this final work was published by Salabert in 1973, E.A.S. 17 100, edited by Robert Caby. <return to text>
4 Erik SATIE, Quatrième, Cinquième, Sixième Gnossienne, Salabert, Musique Contemporaine, 1968. MC 287, MC 288, MC 289. <return to text>
5 Satie liked to shuffle the deck in matters of arithmetic as well as chronology. His sketchbooks show a working title of "Poème d'Amour no 3" for the second of his Trois Poèmes d'Amour, and "Poème d'Amour no 2" for the third. Of course, he took no offense whatsoever at the reversal of titles in the Gymnopédies orchestrated by Debussy. <return to text>
6 Jean-Joël BARBIER, Au piano avec Erik Satie, Paris Librairie Séguier Vagabondages, 1986, p. 45. <return to text>
7 Erik SATIE, Trois Gnossiennes, Rouart, Lerolle & Cie, P.L. no 9884, galley proofs corrected by the author, Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique, Fonds Erik Satie, Rés. Vma 163. <return to text>
8 Having first taken it on himself to date his Gnossienne no 3 to "1890", effectively the date this work was composed, Satie dated the entire collection the same way, striving perhaps for consistency. In 1913, at the very moment Ravel and the "jeunes Ravêlites" were hailing Satie as a "precursor" the publishers felt it important to show - however approximately - that these works had been written over twenty years before. See also Erik SATIE, Ecrits, collected by O. Volta, Paris, Champ libre, 1977; 2nd edition: 1981 pp. 241 et 244-245. <return to text>
9 It should be noted that this innovation of Satie's came about shortly after his collaboration on Uspud, which may have whetted Satie's appetite for writing in general. As for the chronological details, it bears repeating that the personalized playing instructions in Fils des Etoiles were added at press time as well (by Baudoux & Cie, 1896), five years after the score was complete (1891). <return to text>
10 Erik SATIE, Gnossienne, July 8, 1889. Autograph manuscript, signed and dated, brown ink on 2 p., 16.2 x 25.8 cm, Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique, Fonds Erik Satie, Ms 10 054 (1). <return to text>
11 Erik Satie, January 22, 1891. Untitled autograph manuscript, signed and dated. Black and purple ink on 4 p., 23.4 x 31 cm. Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique, Ms 10 051 (2) <return to text>
12 We have no further information on the Gnossienne no 1, besides the fact that it was the only one to keep its original number throughout and that it first appeared in September 1893. There's still reason to believe it preceded, not only the other four already mentioned, but the Gnossienne dated "April of '93" as well, since the latter would become known as the "sixth". <return to text>
13 Erik SATIE, Gnossienne, January 1897. Autograph manuscript, dated and signed. Brown ink on 2 p., 23 x 31 cm. Bibliothèque nationale, Ms 10 054 (2). <return to text>
14 EMI - Pathé Marconi, 1987, 270 30 11 - PM 375. <return to text>
15 Vladimir JANKELEVITCH, Le Nocturne,
Paris, Album Michel, 1957, p. 137. <return to text>
LA BELLE EXCENTRIQUE
2 Same title as above, Max Eschig, 1954. - In an early draft, Satie looked to compose three dances, each situated in a different point in time : 1. Marche pour une grande Cocotte, 1900; 2. Elégance de cirque (Ecuyère), 1910; 3. Cancan moderne, 1920 (Harvard Univ., Cambridge, Houghton Library, Satie's Manuscripts). <return to text>
3 In addition to Caryathis, for whom La Belle Excentrique was composed, this work was danced by Moses Pendleton (Paris, Opéra-Comique, 1979), by Lorca Massine (Venise, La Fenice, 1980) and by Kuniaki Ida (Milan, Teatro dell-Arte, 1985). <return to text>
4 The sketchbooks are in the Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique, Fonds Erik Satie, Ms 9605 (1 to 4). The original manuscript for orchestra went on sale at the Hôtel Drouot on March 18, 1933. Several pages of the four-hand piano reduction are located in the Bibilothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet, fonds Elise Jouhandeau. <return to text>
5 Satie submitted his declaration to SACEM for this work on July 22, 1921 (copyright no. 252 808, April 14, 1922). Here the composer listed the running time of La Belle Excentrique as twelve minutes, basing his total on a reprise of the Grande Ritournelle (two times two and a half minutes). <return to text>
6 Erik Satie's correspondence, edited by our efforts, was published by Bibliothèque Artistique et Littéraire, Montpelier. <return to text>
8 Jean Hugo relates: "(...) I imagined for the Marche de la coffer d'un lustre, et de l'affubler, pour le Cancan, with a skirt of ostrich feathers. Despite the example of Gaby Deslis, it proved difficult to dance in this contraption. Caryathis still showed the sketches to M. Satie. It wasn't at all what the "bon maître" wanted, and there the matter ended until I could find a costume appropriate to the 'Mystérieux baiser dans 1'oeil'" (Jean HUGO, Le Regard de la Mémoire, Le Paradou, Actes Sud, 1983, p. 191-192).
Three sketches by Jean Hugo for the three dances of La Belle Excentrique, gouache on paper, the first two (Marche and Cancan) 40 x 30 cm format, the third (Valse) 24 x 18 cm, are now conserved at the Fondation Erik Satie (dépôt Loretta Hope-Nicholson - Jean Hugo).
Other painters were consulted - Marie Laurencin, Van Dongen - who also failed to find Satie's favor. Jean Cocteau (mentor of Caryathis for the occasion) ended up finding the solution, by designing one simple and audacious costume for all three dances, of which there is a photograph - Studio Henry - at the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet (Fonds Elise Jouhandeau).
Caryathis would premiere La Belle Excentrique along with several other dances accompanied by music of the Six, at the Colisée on June 14, 1921. The poster was designed by Bakst. Other costumes for the dancer were conceived for the performance by Gontcharova. <return to text>
9 EMI Pathé Marconi, 1987, 270
30 11 PM 375. Here the four pieces were recorded in the following
order: 1. Marche franco-lunaire; 2. Grande Ritournelle; 3. Valse du
mystérieux baiser dans l'oeil; 4. Grande Ritournelle; 5.
Cancan Grand-Mondain. <return to text>
SPORTS ET DIVERTISSMENTS
There exist several versions of this piece, the difference being the number of illustrations it may or may not contain. As for the rest, the 900 copies of the first print run, which was never reprinted as such, are identical so far as the cover is concerned: similar to stiff drawing paper, 40 x 45 cm, with a pink dust-jacket and decorated with ribbons of the same color, on which is glued the title page designed by Charles Martin, printed on off-white paper. This same page, printed on a single sheet of white bristol (39.3 x 43.1 cm) like the rest of the package, shows up inside as well as at the head of each copy. The whole makes up a suite of twenty-one hand-drawn scores by Erik Satie - engraved on the reverse of the title page for for each piece and drawn by Charles Martin - and a table of contents, designed by Charles Martin as well. As for the illustrations, however, there exists :
In 1926, Rouart, Lerolle & Cie repurchased the rights for this edition from Vogel and brought out a new edition which only featured Erik Satie's scores, reproduced in facsimile, but on ordinary paper, format 24 x 30 cm, in black and white, and loaded with symbols which Charles Martin had designed for the title page of each score. This edition was re-released, intact, in 1964 by Musique Contemporaine (Salabert), M.C. 194.
In 1962, Dover Publications (New York) published a booklet containing both the Satie scores and the Charles Martin illustrations, in black and white, 23 x 30.6 cm format, accompanied by an (uncredited) English translation of Satie's text between the staves. The cover uses the illustration for "Tango", in color. The title of this edition is "Erik Satie, Twenty Pieces for Piano (Sports et Divertissements), illustrations by Charles Martin".
In 1986, the Japanese firm Zen-On brought out a publication which mirrors the Vogel edition (twenty illustrations), the only difference being its format as a bound booklet rather than a folder and that the 23.2 x 30.8 cm format, shrunk in relation to the original, does not follow the same proportions as the latter (as was the case with the Dover edition). Satie's text is translated in Japanese at the end of each piece. Contrary to the original, in which the table of contents is printed on the final page, in the Japanese edition this table is placed at the beginning. < return to text>
2 ROLAND-MANUEL, Op. cit., p. 11.< return to text>
3 We can see on the invitation card, with no indication of the year, that "Mesdames Lucien Vogel and Charles Peignot, Messieurs Charles Peignot and Lucien Vogel invite you to hear Socrate and a few little novelties, entitled Sports & Divertissements, by M. Erik Satie, at the home of Madame Vogel, 18 rue Bonaparte, December 14, at 9:00" (priv. coll.). We know that "Madame Charles Peignot" has since made her fame as a vocalist of refinement, under the name Suzanne Peignot. Having performed Socrate a number of times, she tells us how Satie personally attended the rehearsals, asking her to sing "with no expression". - "Whatever you do, don't sing it like Pierre Bertin!" he's supposed to have said. However, we have at our disposal a copy of Socrate, with a dedication signed by the composer: "For you, mon cher Bertin, this little song which you speak so movingly" (Archives de la Fondation Erik Satie, dépôt P.B.).< return to text>
4 Priv. coll.- Lucien Vogel, who founded La Gazette du Bon Ton, Jardin des Modes and Vu, was the son of French School painter Hermann Vögel, born in 1856 at Flensburg, Germany, and died in Paris in 1918, and who was an illustrator for the Bibliothèque Rose (Hachette).< return to text>
5 December 3, 1922 - precisely the time when Sports & Divertissements finally saw print - Satie wrote Paul Collaer that things were going "très mal" with La Sirène (Archives Paul Collaer). We've also discovered a form letter - probably typed by a legal professional - which the composer could have used to break with this publisher before the expiration of his contract on January 6, 1924 (Archives de la Fondation Erik Satie). We don't know if Satie ever took this path. He must have considered himself obligation-free in any case, when he signed his last contracts with Rouart, Lerolle & Cie in February 1925, on his hospital bed (for Relâche and the Ludions).< return to text>
7 We have one of the drawings with Satie so categorically rejected, no doubt unsatsfied with the intended result. These are the tentative false starts of a collection which do not correspond to those which made their way into the final edition (priv. collection); The original manuscript of the twenty-one plates has yet to be found.<return to text>
8 Charles Martin, critical study by Marcel Valotaire, preface by Pierre Mac-Orlan, Henry Babou editor, les Artistes du Livre (April 1928), pp. 16-19.< return to text>
9 From 1913 to 1917, Satie constructed, in the form of little stories, the bulk of the playing instructions found in his scores. They could often be called "textes à clé:, and their solution reveals a number of musical quotations (more or less deformed) which show up in the corresponding pieces. An inventory of these quotes from opera, operetta, popular songs, appeared in the introduction to to the catalog of the exhibit Satie et la tradition populaire, organized by the Fondation Erik Satie in Paris, Musée des Arts et des Tradition Populaires, in May 1988.< return to text>
10 See Moïsé KISLING, "Souvenir de Satie", in La Revue musicale, no 214, June 1952, pp. 108-109.<return to text>
11 A letter from Erik Satie to René Clair, dated October 23, 1924, shows that the composer was waiting to see the details of this film, before undertaking the music (L'Avant-Scène-Cinéma, no. 86, November 1968, "René Clair, 'Entr'acte'", p. 8).< return to text>
13 Here is the text inscribed by Erik Satie between the staves of "Water-Chute" : "Graciously. - If you have a solid constitution, you will not make yourself too ill. It will seem that you have fallen from a scaffold. You will see how curious it all is. Careful ! Don't change color. - I feel uneasy. - This proves that you need to have some fun". Erik Satie, April 14, 1914 .< return to text>
14 Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique, Fonds Erik Satie, Mss 9627 (1 to 10). <return to text>
15 Francis STEEGMULLER, Cocteau, translated by Marcelle Jossua, Paria, Buchet-Chastel, 1973, p. 102. <return to text>
16 At the end of autumn 1914, Satie really did compose three songs, under the title Trois Poèmes d'Amour, published par Rouart, Lerolle & Cie in 1916. It is doubtful, however, that he conceived them with the Gazette du Bon Ton in mind; the latter had ceased publication at the beginning of the war.<return to text>
17 See Ornella VOLTA, Satie and the Dance, Layton, Utah, Gibbs M. Smith, Peregrine Smith Books (under press as of 1987).<return to text>
18 Priv. coll.< return to text>
19 Salle des Agriculteurs, 1923-1924 season,
Troisième Concert Jean Wiéner, December 21, 1923.
<return to text>
2 Erik SATIE, Uspud, ballet chrétien en trois actes, argument de J.P. Contamine de Latour, for piano. Paris, Salabert, Musique Contemporaine, 1970, M.C. no. 443.<return to text>
3 Uspud, ballet chrétien en trois actes de J.P. Contamine de Latour. Musique sacrée de Erik Satie. Présenté le 20 décembre 1892 au Théâtre National de l'Opéra. Paris, Imprimerie Artistique, E. directed by Woestiendieck, s.d. (1893). Broché, 12 pages, 23 x 14 cm.<return to text>
4 Reynaldo HAHN, "L'humour d'Erik Satie", in Le Figaro, December 19, 1937, p. 3. - In this article, Hahn calls Satie "an inoffensive personality (...), author of lucubrations sonores and fumisteries insignifiantes". But this was the same Hahn who must have alerted Proust, at the start of the 1890s, to the name of Satie as that of a musician in the avant-garde (see Marcel PROUST, Les Plaisirs et les jours, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1896, p. 92).
What Hahn may never have forgiven Satie was the fact that Parade (Satie, Cocteau, Picasso - Ballets Russes, 1917) so thoroughly made old hat of Le Dieu bleu (Hahn, Cocteau, Benois - Ballets Russes, 1912).
Reynaldo Hahn met Erik Satie in the salon of Edouard Risler. <return to text>
5 Uspud, ballet chrétien en trois actes de J.P. Contamine de Latour. Musique sacrée de Erik Satie. Présenté le 20 décembre 1892 au Théâtre National de l'Opéra, s.l.n.d. (1895). Broché, 8 pages, 11 x 13,7 cm.<return to text>
6 This medaillon, which never left Satie's room during his life, is now kept in the Placard d'Erik Satie, 6 rue Cortot, in Montmartre.<return to text>
7 Satie revealed the chronological details of his "liaison d'amour" with Suzanne Valadon in a medaillon which he drew in red and black ink and hung on the door of his room in the rue Cortot. The original is now conserved at the Département de la Musique de la Bioliothèque nationale (gift of Robert Le Masle). The text was first published in Erik SATIE, Ecrits, p. 184.<return to text>
8 Satie insisted, for example, on completely recopying by hand the orchestral score which Debussy had published for the first and third Gymnopédies (Autograph manuscript by Erik Satie, transcription for orchestra by Claude Debussy, priv. coll.).<return to text>
9 P. CONTAMINE DE LATOUR, "Erik Satie intime (...)", art. cit.<return to text>
10 At this time, Satie had not yet signed his name to any text or published article, with the exception of an open letter he had printed in Gil Blas, in August 1892, to dissociate himself publicly with the Sâr Peladan. There is equally strong evidence of his writing style in sevral articles printed in La Lanterne japonaise, under a borrowed name or no signature at all (See Erik SATIE, Ecrits, p. 102-113).<return to text>
11 Priv. coll. Charles Koechlin made a handwritten copy of this manuscript in January 1927, held up to then by Ernest Legrand. Robert Orledge has analyzed this copy, now kept in a private collection, in "Satie, Koechlin and the Ballet Uspud", in Music and Letters, LXVIII, no. 1, January 1987, p. 26-41. <return to text>
12 Cesare MUTTI, Pittura e alchimia, Parma, 1970, p. 11. - After explaining that the number "72" corresponds to the formula EN TO PAN, in the center of the hermetic circle, Motti reminds us that "72 are the Kabbalistic attributes of Divine unity, 72 the angels according to the calculations of the Assyrians and Chaldeans, 72 the solar years of which earthly time corresponds to that of the Great Platonic Year; 72 the Sages gathered about Moses, 72 the rungs of Jacob's ladder, according to the Zohar (...)". <return to text>
13 Ernest Legrand glued onto the final page of the Uspud notebook a sheet of white paper containing, on the reverse, a drawing of a castle by Erik Satie, accompanied by the inscription "Hôtel de messere Ernest Le Grand" and, on the other side, the following handwritten dedication: "To my bon vieux Erneste Le Grand, I offer this precious manuscript made specially for the sole glory of the Lord, My Eternal Father. May he accept it from my resplendent hands, may he respect it forever, that is what I wish. His Brother in creation, Erik Satie" (Unpubl., priv. coll.).<return to text>
14 The composer in question probably belonged to Koechlin's entourage. Legrand accompanied his donation with a letter, dated May 23, 1934, from which we quote the following passage which is particularly illuminating as to the quality of Legrand's relations with Satie : "Mon cher Ami (...) allow me to offer you a little rectangular record which, if you were to spin it, would remain no less silent. It is my only remaining souvenir of a being which I have venerated for his talent and charming speech, which was quasi-divine (...)".
The "rectangular record" refers, obviously, to the sketchbook which contains the manuscript of Uspud. The "venerable being" is none other than Erik Satie.<return to text >
15 We have released an Italian translation of the text in Erik SATIE, Quaderni di un Mammifero, a cura di Ornella Volta, Milan, Adelphi, 1980, pp. 120-129. In this work, aimed at the public at large, we have still left out the numerous repetitions of dates and signatures and slightly modified the layout, for purposes of clarity.<return to text>
16 Uspud, "ballet chrétien en trois actes de J.P. Contamine de Latour, musique de Erik Satie. Paris, November '92". Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la Musique, Fonds Erik Satie, Ms 9631. <return to text>
17 P. CONTAMINE DE LATOUR, "Erik Satie intime", art. cit. Contamine gives no date for their meeting with Bertrand; we have deduced it from a letter from Satie to Ernest Legrand.<return to text>
18 Rollo MYERS, Erik Satie, translated from English by Dr. Robert Le Masle, Paris, Gallimard, 1959, p. 144-145.<return to text>
19 Erik SATIE, Socrate, "drame symphonique en trois parties, avec voix, d'après les Dialogues de Platon, traduits en français par Victor Cousin. Ouvrage composé pour les réceptions privées de la Princesse de Poilgnac". Paris, La Sirène, E.D.2 L.S.- The copyright is dated 1920 on the cover and 1919 inside.
For the opening "Portrait de Socrate", Satie chose, from among the thirty-nine chapters of the Banquet, four passages from ch. XXXII, one from ch. XXXIII and one from ch. XXXV.
For Part II ("Les Bords de l'Ilissus") he chose, from among the sixty-four chapters of Phaedra, two passages from ch. IV and one from ch. V.
For Part III ("Mort de Socrate") he excerpted, from the sixty-seven chapters of Phaedo, four passages from ch. III, one from ch. XXXIII, two from ch. XXXV, three passages from ch. XXXVIII, two from ch. LXV, and one from ch. LXVII.
By combining these twenty paragraphs (for a grand total of one hundred words), he kept to their original order, without adding a syllable of his own.<return to text>
20 P. CONTAMINE DE LATOUR, Art. cit. - According to Conrad Satie, it was at the Clou where Satie and Debussy first met. October 27, 1892, two weeks before the completion of Uspud, Debussy had written on copy no. 45 of his Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire, the famous dedication "to Erik Satie, gentle medieval musician, having wandered into this century for the joy of his dear friend Claude-A. Debussy" (priv. coll.). <return to text>
21 Here is a report of the interview which Satie wrote to his friend Ernest Legrand in an unpublished letter, dated December 18, 1892: "Mon Cher et Vénérable Maître (...Bertrand received me yesterday, along with Latour. This led me to believe that Uspud was soon to appear at the Opéra in the 1927 season or, at the latest, that of 1943. A toi de tout coeur et d'esprit. Erik Satie" (the complete text of this letter was graciously given us by Jean Roy).<return to text>
22 See note (21) above. Uspud was premiered at the Opéra-Comique, as part of a "Complete" Erik Satie which took place under the initiative of Rolf Liebermann, General Director of the Opéra, in May 1979. Pianist Michel Tranchant, reader Hubert Camerlo, simultaneous projection of slides (not exactly pertinent, truth to tell), specially conceived by Robert Doisneau.<return to text >
23 Here, for example, is Florent Schmitt's version: "(...) Then there was [Satie's] little adventure with that madman who directed the Opéra (his name is not important), guilty of having refused that Tibetan epic which is Uspud. Provoked by Satie to a duel, fate decreed that the inhospitable doctor would succumb to the troisième friction. This tragic and sweet-smelling end, which made a great noise in theatrical circles, would later suggest to Gabrielo d'Annunzio the dénouement to one of his greatest dramas (...)" (Florent SCHMITT, "Erik Satie", in Montjoie I, 1, no. 11-12, December 1913, pp. 11-22).<return to text>
24 In his 1958 "Introduction" à to Erik Satie's works, see the "Scholarly Work". Yves Gérard explains the interaction many have inferred betwen the music of Erik Satie and the various milieus he frequented.<return to text>
25 Information gathered from unpublished notes by Conrad Satie, Archives P.D. Templier. In a thesis on the cabarets of Montmartre, Mariel Oberthür posits other theories on the creators of these frescoes (which were superimposed on older ones) going so far as to suggest Picasso, among others (Mariel OBERTHÜR, "Lés Cabarets artistiques au pied de la colline de Montmartre", Thèse de 3e cycle, Univ. de Paris IV, 1979).<return to text>
26 Santiago RUSIÑOL, "El Reino de las Sombras. Cartas ilustradas. Artistes catalans in Paris. Desde el Molino" in La Vanguardia, March 31, 1892; quoted in his work Desde el Molino, Barcelona, "L'Avenç", 1894; reprinted several times (even in Paris, by éd. Garnier, 1909), but never in French translation.<return to text >
27 See Catherine BANLIN-LACROIX, "Miquel Utrillo i Morlius, critique d'art", Masters' thesis, prof. P. Guinard, Univ. de Paris IV, Etudés Ibériques, 1971, p. 32 ss.<return to text>
28 A painting by Rusiñol, "Raval de Paria" (1891), depicts Valadon and Utrillo on the banks of the Seine, the latter in a French army uniform loaned by Erik Satie ("Els Quatre Gats, Art in Barcelona Around 1900", exhibition catalog by Marilyn McCully, The Art Museum, Princeton University, 1978, p. 122). According to C. Banlin-Lacroix (op. cit.), Utrillo was the first Catalan in Paris to meet Erik Satie, whom he later introduced to his artist friends.<return to text >
Without precisely dating the "Noël" by Erik Satie (now lost), Hyspa places it at a time when the composer abandoned the velvet suit which earned him the nickname Velvet Gentleman, to adopt the uniform of a minor bureaucrat. Because this sartorial reinvention did not come about until after 1900 and that Utrillo's theater only existed in 1892, we must assume Hyspa to be mixing up his memories when, at the end of his life, he was trying hardest to put them in order. <return to text>
30 Utrillo would leave in 1893 to show his "ombres chinoises" - transformed into "ombres parisiennies" for the occasion - at the Universal Exposition in Chicago. He was to stay in the U.S. for two years before returning to Barcelona (See C. BANLIN-LACROIX op. cit., p. 22 ss). Utrillo's memoirs show he had no great love for Erik Satie, barely mentioned and with obvious bitterness (M. UTRILLO, Historia anecdotica de Cau Ferrat, unpubl. autograph manuscript, 1930 ca, p. 34, Barcelona, Museo de Arte Moderno).<return to text >
La Marche à l'Etoile, mystery play in ten scenes by Georges Fragerolle and Henri Rivière, was first performed at the Théâtre du Chat Noir, January 6, 1890 (see Paul Jeanne, Les Théâtres d'Ombres à Montmartre, Paris, les Ed. dés Presses Modernes du Palais-Royal, 1937, p. 62). <return to text>
32 Santiago RUSIÑOL, "El Réveillon", in op. cit., January 18, 1891. - Having affirmed (remember this is still in 1891) that the name Erik Satie was destined to live forever (at least as long as fate isn't playing a dirty trick), Rusiñol explained that this "composer-poet" was trying to "create in musical terms what Puvis de Chavannes had succeeded in doing for painting, which was to make extreme simplification an essential quality of art, to say in two words what a Spanish orator could not say in long, eloquent sentences, and to imbue his work with a je ne sais quoi of indeterminacy which allows the listener to follow, according to his state of mind, the path he has traced himself which is perfectly straight, woven with harmonies and emotions". And again: "This tactic seems to owe much to the Orient. Our friend has christened his own music 'Greek harmony.'" Rusiñol made a portrait of "Erik Satie, tocando el Harmonium" in 1891.<return to text>
33 Patrick GOWERS, "Satie's Rose+Croix Music", in Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 92, 1965-1966, pp. 16-17.<return to text>
34 Conrad SATIE, Notés inédites (op. cit.). - "La Tentation de Saint-Antoine" by Rivière and Fragerolle was performed at the shadow-plays of the Chat Noir on December 28, 1887 (see P. JEANNE, op. cit., p. 61). <return to text>
35 S. RUSIÑOL, "El Reino de las Sombras" (art. cit).<return to text>
36 The English composer and musicologist Andrew Thomson has offered to demonstrate this discovery by the Fondation Erik Satie, of which he is a member, by staging Uspud as a shadow-play at the next Camden Festival.<return to text >
37 Annie LEDOUT,
"L'Eden-Théâtre, 1883-1893", in R.I.M.F., vol.
VI, no. 17, June 1985, p. 115.<return to text>
EDITIONS AND MANUSCRITS
1 P. CONTAMINE DE LATOUR, "Erik Satie intime", art. cit.<return to text>
2 La Lanterne japonaise, I, no 6, December 1, 1888, p. 3.<return to text>
3 Conrad SATIE, "Erik Satie", in Le Coeur, no. 6-7, June 1895, p. 3.<return to text>
4 "Lettre de l'ouvreuse", in L'Echo de Paris, November 30, 1896.<return to text>
5 Santiago RUSIÑOL, "Impresiones de Arte (VI. El Greco en casa, 1894)", in Obres completes, Barcelona, Editorial Selecta, vol. 2, 3rd ed., 1976, p. 740.<return to text>
6 "Un dîner à l'Elysée", music by Erik Satie, drawings by Jules Dépaquit, in Vincent HYSPA, Chansons d'humour, Paris, Enoch & Cie, 1903, pp. 107-113.<return to text>
7 Unpublished letter from Erik Satie to his brother Conrad, January 17, 1911. Transcription by P.D. Templier. <return to text>
8 Erik SATIE, Ecrits, 1981, p. 164. <return to text>
9 The trademark S.M.I. stands for Société Musicale Indépendante, founded in 1909 as a splinter faction of the Société Nationale, led by Maurice Ravel. S.l.M., however, stands for the Société Internationale de Musique, which published a newsletter that eventually became the Revue musicale S.I.M. The latter ceased publication during WWI, to resume in 1920 as La Revue musicale. <return to text>
10 Erik Satie, unpublished letter to Roland-Manuel, September 6, 1911. Priv. coll.< return to text>
11 Erik SATIE, "Ce que je suis", in Revue musicale S.l.M., 8, no. 4, April 15, 1912, p. 69.<return to text>
12 "Allié" (entrefilet non signé), in Le Mot, no. 15, March 27, 1915. Cocteau was chief editor and illustrator of this newspaper (with Paul Iribe).<return to text>
13 Erik SATIE, Cinq Grimaces pour "Le Songé d'une Nuit d'Eté", Universal, 1929; version for orchestra, Universal, 1929, no. 9697. <return to text>
14 Erik Satie, unpublished letter to Valentine Hugo, August 24, 1919. Transcription by Jean Roy. <return to text>
15 In his memoirs, "Jéroboam et la Sirène", published in Les Nouvelles Littéraires in 1952, Cendrars simplifies the story by claiming he wanted to call his publishing house "L'Usine" ["Factory"] (see "La Sirène" by Pascal Fouché, Bibliothèque de Littérature Française Contemporaine, Université de Paris VII, 1984, p. 219).<return to text>
16 Le Piège de Méduse, "comédie lyrique d'Erik Satie avec musique de danse du même Monsieur", color illustrations by Georges Braque, Paris, Ed. de la Galerie Simon, 1921. <return to text>
17 "Blaise Céndrars vous parle", fragments collected by M. Manoll (1952), in Blaise CENDRARS, Oeuvres complètes vol. VIII, Paris, Denoël, 1965, p. 648.<return to text>
18 In 1953, several notebooks conserved in the Bibliothèque du Conservatoire were discovered to have pages missing or torn by "researchers," none of whom have seen fit to return the fruits of their pillage. <return to text>
19 By Broeksmans & Van Poppel (Amsterdam), United Music MSM Music Publ. and by Novello (London), California Music Press and Copa (U.S.A.), J.B. Cramer (Canada)... <return to text>
Francis PICABIA, illustration from "A Mammal's Notebook" by Erik Satie,
in 391, no. 17, June 1924.