Erik Satie
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- Music samples -
This is a collection of music samples, sorted in chronological order.
Comments on each work are mostly excerpts from Olof Höjer's CD compilation "Erik Satie - the complete piano works vol. 1-6".

MP3 audio files: 16-bit 22,1 KHz stereo (FM quality - recommended).
RA audio files: 16-bit 20,7 Kbps streaming mono (medium wave quality).
These audio samples are suitable for practically everyone, even those
with older computers and with limited bandwidth connection.

E S in 1924. Photo by Man Ray.
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Allegro (1884)
Satie's earliest known composition, based on the popular tune J'irai revoir ma Normandie. A little musical "postcard" from his summer holidays in his home town Honfleur.
Performed by Olof Höjer. © 1996 Prophone, Sweden. Cat.no. SCD 1070.
mp3 format - mpeg (142 KB) | ra format - realaudio (36 KB)

Chanson (1886)
Lyrics by the Spanish poet and author J.P. Contaime de Latour (1867-1926) who was to become one of Satie's most important friends and collaborators. Certainly, Chanson, with its everyday, sturdy tone of the salons, or perhaps an echo of the café stages, appealed most strongly to his father, who later published it separately as opus 52!
Performed by Märta Schéle and Olof Höjer. © Intim Musik, Sweden.
mp3 format - mpeg (460 KB) | ra format - realaudio (157 KB)

Ogives (1886)
Can be described as a kind of paraphrase on the antiphonal, liturgical song. The pieces are confusingly alike, as though Satie had composed the same piece in different ways (a technique to which he later returned). All follow the same pattern: a quasi-Gregorian melody is intoned, piano, and then repeated three times, first in sonorous parallel fortissimo chords, then in pianissimo in another harmonic guise (reminiscent of an organ's action), after which the fortissimo version concludes the piece. The pattern could also be described: choir leader - choir - organ (action) - choir.
Performed by Alessandro Fabbri. © 1998 Slasc(h) dal, Italy.
mp3 format - mpeg (194 KB) | ra format - realaudio (49 KB)

Gymnopédies (1888)
The title might mean "a dance accompanied by song and performed by naked Spartan girls" but the term Gymnopædia was an Apollonic celebration in ancient Sparta where men of all ages danced, not naked, but unarmed. It's not known exactly where Satie found his inspiration to these piano pieces. The works consist of a thin, ascetic, "naked" piano structure in which lonesome and singularly expressive melodies circle like falling autumn leaves; a monotonous, low bass line accompaniment, and against it softly dissonant chords in the middle register, constantly repeating the same iambic rhythm-pattern. Together this creates an atmosphere of vague melancholy, of mysticism and exoticism. Perhaps there is also a fin-de-siècle feeling, even some salon nostalgia.
Performed by Andrea Tedesco. © 1996 Felmay / Robi Droli, Italy. Cat.no. 1298067522.
mp3 format - mpeg (449 KB) | ra format - realaudio (113 KB)

Gnossienne No. 5 (1889)
A little piece where slowly wandering chords (mainly triads in root position and the odd seventh chord, shifting between G major and E minor) carry a melody filled with arabesque-like ornaments, both oriental and church tonal in its nature. He called it a Gnossienne - and thereby gave Satie researchers yet another enigmatic title to investigate.
Performed by Pascal Rogé. © 1984 Decca, England. Cat.no. 410 220-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (364 KB) | ra format - realaudio (125 KB)

Gnossienne No. 4 (1891)
Here Satie has found a different structure: against a slow and monotonously undulating accompaniment of broken triads, a melody filled with long "Oriental" melisma is placed.
Performed by Branka Parlic. © 1988 bparlic@ptt.yu, Yugoslavia.
mp3 format - mpeg (543 KB) | ra format - realaudio (326 KB)

Sonneries de la Rose + Croix: Air de l'Ordre (1892)
Satie's third and last real Rosicrucian piece, 3 fanfares for trumpets and harps. Only available in piano version, possibly Satie's own. Here, Satie return to the quasi-liturgic, antiphonal pattern of Ogives.
Performed by Reinbert de Leeuw. © 1980 Philips Classics, Holland. Cat.no. 420 473-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (360 KB) | ra format - realaudio (91 KB)

Vexations (1893)
This is a sort of cendensation of his Rosicrucian music. The basic material is extremely simple: a theme in bass, a cantus firmus, without time-signature or bars, encompassing thirteen beats and all the twelve tones of the chromatic scale but one (A flat/ G sharp).The theme then becomes the basis for two harmonisations, identical but inverted and using only dimished and augmented triads (every chord but one includes a tritone). If you call the basis theme A and both harmonisations B and C, the form of the piece can be written ABAC. What makes this piece so debated was the odd note added to the music by Satie: "In order to play this motif 840 times to yourself, it will be useful to prepare yourself beforehand, in great silence and serious immobility."
Performed by Olof Höjer. © Prophone, Sweden. Cat.no. SCD 1071.
mp3 format - mpeg (314 KB) | ra format - realaudio (152 KB)

Messe des Pauvres: Dixit Dominus (1895)
This mass, with its flavour of "work in progress" and its harshly ascetic and mystical music, has been described by Alan Gillmor as "perhaps the fullest realization of the composer's carefully cultivated Gothic dream". It was to be Satie's last real religious piece.
Performed by Choeurs René Duclos. © EMI, France. Cat.no. CZS 7628772.
mp3 format - mpeg (211 KB) | ra format - realaudio (53 KB)

Caresse (1897)
This posthumously (1968) published sketch with title by Robert Caby, is a softly sensual meditation distantly related to the Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes, interrupted in the middle in an almost surrealistic way by a sudden, ephemeral "quake".
Performed by Olof Höjer. © Prophone, Sweden. Cat.no. SCD 1072.
mp3 format - mpeg (462 KB) | ra format - realaudio (116 KB)

Gnossienne No. 6 (1897)
This posthumously (1968) published sketch with title by Robert Caby, is evidently based on the same material as Airs à faire fuir.
Performed by Reinbert de Leeuw. © Philips Classics, Holland. Cat.no. 412 243-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (304 KB) | ra format - realaudio (76 KB)

Petite Ouverture à danser (c 1897)
This posthumously (1968) published sketch with title by Robert Caby, is a slightly nostalgic bagatelle with irregular chunks of music, which seems to have its origins in some cabaret context.
Performed by Reinbert de Leeuw. © Philips Classics, Holland. Cat.no. 412 243-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (344 KB) | ra format - realaudio (86 KB)

Pièces froides: Air à faire fuir No. 2 (1897)
This piece appears like a kind of intermezzo between no. 1 & 3, a well-calculated contrast in the shape of a simple, song-like tune with an accompaniment that almost seems culled from salon or cabaret music. As demonstrated by Robert Orledge, it is in fact a processed version of the English folk song The Keel Row - yet another musical ready-made, a forerunner of what would later become one of the most characteristic artistic effects of his music.
Performed by the CC Chamber Orch. © 1970 Deram/London, UK. Cat.no. DES 18036.
mp3 format - mpeg (415 KB) | ra format - realaudio (104 KB)

Pièces froides: Danse de travers No. 1 (1897)
The three "slanted dances" demonstrate another singularity typical of Satie, which are already apparent in the Ogives, Sonneries de la Rose+Croix and perhaps also the Gymnopédies: composing the same piece in several different ways, bringing to mind his oft-quoted statement: "Before I compose a piece, I walk around it several times, accompanied by myself". The dances are remarkably alike and all based on rising triad figures from which a melodic line detaches itself. One at first associates to Schumann or Fauré: a toneful, muted lyrical atmosphere, strangely imploring musical gestures. However, the romantic atmosphere gradually passes into monotony and finally tedium.
Performed by Alessandra Celletti. From the CD "Esotérik Satie". © 2000 KHA, Italy.
mp3 format - mpeg (350 KB) | ra format - realaudio (120 KB)

Je te veux (c 1897)
This waltz song for voice and piano seems to be Satie's debut as composer of light chansons. Song by Henry Pacory and to be performed by the at that time very popular singer Paulette Darty. Satie also scored Je te veux for brasserie orch and for full orch, adding a new Trio in the process. The text was at first more daring but quickly adapted for the published version in 1902 where Satie may have been of some assistance.
Performed by Constanze Brüning and Johannes Cernota.
From the CD "Sport & Vergnügen". © 2001 JARO Medien, Germany. Cat.no. JARO 4239-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (469 KB) | ra format - realaudio (158 KB)

Jack in the Box (1899)
This little three-movement "suite anglaise", a kind of stylized circus music, is in its way a curious work in Satie's career. The sometimes hectic forced gaiety in the jig-like rhythms and the often rather garish tones, with dissonant and sometimes bitonal colouring, make Jack-in-the-Box appear as a sudden flash of blinding light from a grey sky. There is nothing like it in his earlier production of almost constant slow tempo and introvert, melancholy atmosphere. The music presages the works from his last years, like La belle Excentrique or Relâche. Yet it is written with the same sort of montage technique as his Rosicrucian pieces.
Performed by Utah Symphony Orch. © Omega Record Group, N.Y. Cat.no. OVC 4030.
mp3 format - mpeg (488 KB) | ra format - realaudio (163 KB)

Verset laïque et somptueux (1900)
This meditation, filled with almost still, chorallike chord sequences, seems to be nostalgic of the Rosicrucian period and the atmosphere of Messe des pauvres. The autograph is in Satie's beautiful, Gothic hand and bears the double cross he used to add to his name as Parcier of Église Métropolitaine d'Art. It was published in the anthology Autographes de musiciens contemporains 1900 in the context of the World fair held in Paris in 1900.
Performed by Aldo Ciccolini. © EMI, France. Cat.no. CDC 7497032.
mp3 format - mpeg (476 KB) | ra format - realaudio (119 KB)

Geneviève de Brabant (1900)
The original text of Genevieve of the Brabant was recently rediscovered after a long time of forgetfulness. Contaime de Latour had written it, under the pseudonym of Lord Cheminot (i.e. Poor guy Lord). It will be seen how, under the feather of our two accomplices, the legend of Genevieve is detached considerably from the tradition larmoyante which one knew until then.
Performed by Andrea Tedesco. © Felmay / Robi Droli, Italy. Cat.no. 129806752 2.
mp3 format - mpeg (378 KB) | ra format - realaudio (95 KB)

Petite Prélude de "La Mort de Monsieur Mouche" (1900)
Similar to Jack-in-the-Box one can encounter the same rather desperate cabaret style in this fragment from another failed theatre project, written for a play by Contaime de Latour and published as No. 18 in the collection Carnet d'esquisses, published in 1968 by Robert Caby.
Performed by Olof Höjer. © Prophone, Sweden. Cat.no. SCD 1073.
mp3 format - mpeg (513 KB) | ra format - realaudio (129 KB)

Trois Morceaux en forme de Poire (1903)
These three "pear-shaped" pieces (in fact they are seven) share the fate of Vexations of being among his least known works - though most have heard of them. It is usually held that this was an ironic statement on Debussy's implied suggestion that Satie should use a more traditional formal language. The piano duet was made public in 1911 and first performed in 1916 when Ricardo Viñes and Satie played them at the Société lre et palette. This first movement, "A way of beginning", is simply a Gnossienne from the first act of Joséphin Péladan's 1891 play Le Fils des étoiles.
Performed by Bracha Eden and Alexander Tamir. © Decca, London. Cat.no. SXL 6551.
mp3 format - mpeg (494 KB) | ra format - realaudio (168 KB)

Le Picadilly (1904)
Le Picadilly was written in 1904 as a march for piano with the original title La transatlantique. Here Satie again uses the ragtime style, and also (as in the 1884 Allegro and the 1897 Airs à faire fuir No. 2) adopts an outside tune. The main part of the march (after the eightbar introduction) is based on material from the 1899 Hello! Ma baby by Howard Emerson.
Performed by Pascal Rogé. © Decca, UK. Cat.no. 410 220-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (471 KB) | ra format - realaudio (118 KB)

Les Oiseaux (c 1905)
Posthumously published in 1978 as one of three songs "without words". The text is lost or perhaps never written.
Performed by Constanze Brüning and Johannes Cernota.
From the CD "Sport & Vergnügen". © 2001 JARO Medien, Germany. Cat.no. JARO 4239-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (469 KB) | ra format - realaudio (158 KB)

Véritables Préludes flasques (pour un Chien): Sévère Réprimande (1912)
As is often the case with Satie the title raises both questions and hypotheses (which was certainly what he wanted). In Sévère Réprimande, a kind of toccata reminiscent of baroque clefs and organ music, fiery figurations in the right hand are set against a choral-type melody in thundering octaves in the left. The right-hand figures are based on minimal material: a minor triad with a major sixth (the notes D1-F1-A1-B1), constantly repeated but with the notes changed around and transposed.
Performed by Pascal Rogé. © Decca, UK. Cat.no. 421 713-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (825 KB) | ra format - realaudio (276 KB)

Les trois Valses distinguées du Précieux dégôuté: Son Binocle (1912)
These "three distinguished waltzes of the disgusted snob" have traditionally come to be seen as an ironic comment on Ravel, a renowned fashion snob, and his Valses nobles et sentimentales. In this second waltz, "His lorgnette", Satie seems to be quoting his own gymnopédies, perhaps in reference to Ravel's bold contention that he had written the fourth gymnopédie in his Entretiens de la Belle et la Bête (from the suite Ma mère at l'oye). Here too he provides the piece with an ambivalent motto, this time from Cicero's De Republica, on how the old custom of forbidding nubile young people to show themselves naked in their minds (perhaps this was an allusion to the naked dance in the gymnopédie?).
Performed by Klára Körmendi. © HNH, UK. Cat.no. Naxos 8.550698.
mp3 format - mpeg (488 KB) | ra format - realaudio (163 KB)

Le Piège de Meduse (1913)
A lyrical comedy in one act by Erik Satie with dance music by the same gentleman. Satie described his play as follows: "This is a pure fantasy... unreal. A joke. There is no point in trying to interpret it in any other way. Baron Medusa is a kind of portrait... my self-portrait, even... in full length." At the play's premiere Satie put pieces of paper between the pianostrings in order to obtain a mechanical effect - the first known example of prepared piano. This music sample is really odd, you will not hear a piano but an accordion...
Performed by Teodoro Anzellotti. © Winter & Winter, Germany. Cat.no. 910 031-2.
mp3 format - mpeg (335 KB) | ra format - realaudio (114 KB)

Sports et Divertissements: Yatching (1914)
"Sports and Entertainments", which served as a musical-poetic "illumination" to drawings by the illustrator Charles Martin (1884-1934), is quintessential of Satie's different creative attitudes and has become one of his most famous piano compositions. This is a multimedial work of art in which picture, music, text and notation are meant to work together. The story of its orgin is often retold. The publisher first asked Igor Stravinskij to compose these pieces, but Stravinskij declined, finding the fee too low. Someone then suggested Satie, who was offered the same amount. However, the hypermoral and radical leftist Satie found the fee unconscionably high and refused indignantly. It was only when the publisher had agreed to cut the fee to half the original amount that Satie accepted.
Performed by Klára Körmendi. © HNH, UK. Cat.no. Naxos 8.550698.
mp3 format - mpeg (519 KB) | ra format - realaudio (130 KB)

Avant-dernières Pensées: Méditation (1915)
Even if the title of these "penultimate" pieces themselves sounds like cheerful irony, there is not much pleasantry in evidence, either in the strictly neutral sub-headings (unusual for Satie), the guiding prose poems or the music. From a purely musical point of view, these pieces are written with detached clarity and clockwork precision. In the not very meditative Méditation, the right hand whisks up a mechanical, constantly-repeated pianissimo triplet and the left hand contributes melodic interjections in other keys with an occasional flavour of "tonepainting".
Performed by Olof Höjer. © Prophone, Sweden. Cat.no. SCD 1074.
mp3 format - mpeg (353 KB) | ra format - realaudio (88 KB)

Parade: Prélude du Rideau Rouge (1917)
It is true that we were brought closer to Satie by the scandal around Parade, the ballet by Jean Cocteau with settings and costumes by Pablo Picasso, composed in 1916, created by the ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev in 1917. This score marked the final break with Debussyan impressionism and the return to a melodic and harmonic frankness of great purity. In Parade, Satie, still the original thinker, initiated various innovations. Was he not the first to introduce extra-musical elements into the orchestra (sound splashes, lottery wheels, sirens, typewriters, pistol shots, etc.)?
Performed by Utah Symphony Orch. © Omega Record Group, N.Y. Cat.no. OVC 4030.
mp3 format - mpeg (414 KB) | ra format - realaudio (104 KB)

La Belle excentrique (1920)
Satie's last work for the piano. Notes on manuscript pages conserved in the United States show that Satie had intended the suite as a kind of retrospective, "a walk through three different periods in the musical entertainment world of Paris". In order to find the right atmosphere, he delved into his own past as a cabaret musician and recycled a therefore unpublished 1905 tune, Légende californienne.
Performed by Orch du Capitole de Toulouse. © EMI, France. Cat.no. CDC 749471 2.
mp3 format - mpeg (369 KB) | ra format - realaudio (93 KB)
Performed by Olof Höjer & Max Lörstad. © Prophone Records, Sweden. Cat.no. SCD 1073.
mp3 format - mpeg (513 KB) | ra format - realaudio (129 KB)

Relâche Act I: Projection (1924)
Relâche was given for the first time at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in 1924. It is on a book and with settings by Francis Picabia, a ballet in two acts commissioned and staged by the Ballets Suédois of Rolf de Maré, choreography by Jean Borlin. It was the height of the surrealist period. Between the two acts there was an important innovation, a performance of René Clair's film Entr'acte, with music by Satie. To the delight of spectators, Satie and Picabia appeared themselves in the film. The music of Relâche ranges from the truculence of certain marching songs to the exquisite tenderness of the accompaniments to the dances of "La Femme". In the marvelous 1920s, everything went, and the audience was not surprised at the end of the première of Relâche, to see Satie arrive on stage, to the acclaim of his cheering friends, in a little 5 horsepower Citroën car driven by Picabia.
Performed by Utah Symphony Orch. © Omega Record Group, N.Y. Cat.no. OVC 4030.
mp3 format - mpeg (284 KB) | ra format - realaudio (71 KB)


Midi recordings

© Niclas Fogwall. These midi files are free for use on non-commercial sites.
Right-click on a link and save it. Then open it with a suitable midi software.
To achieve a natural sound, use an external piano module and a reverb.

Allegro (1884) - his first composition
Gymnopédie No. 1 (1888) - his most popular piano piece
Gnossienne No. 5 (1889) - the first Gnossienne, published in 1968
Première Pensée Rose + Croix (1891) - originally untitled, published in 1968
Modéré (1893) - among the preparatory studies for the Messe des Pauvres
Danse de travers No. 1 (1897) - from Pièces froides
Petite Ouverture à danser (c 1897) - originally untitled, published in 1968
Verset laïque et semptueux (1900) - presented at the Universal Exhibition of 1900
Choral inappétissant (1914) - from Sports et divertissements
La Balancoire (1914) - from Sports et divertissements


Music videos

Introduction to Entr'acte
(2 MB, 73 seconds)
This is the silent introduction to the film Entr'acte (no sound in this video clip), which was shown in the interval of the ballet Relâche. Here Erik Satie and Francis Picabia jump on the roof somewhere in Paris, firing a cannon... Behind the camera is René Clair and the first-night audience of 1924 where amazed, expecting to see nothing more than ballet.
Thanks to Enzo Boeri for supplying this video, recorded from Italian television.

Gnossienne No. 4
(302 KB, 40 seconds)
This is a short picture animation which I made with Macromedia Flash 4.0. To view this animation your browser requires a plug-in, "Flash", which you can download for free from Macromedia's website (if your browser don't have it already). Music performed by Branka Parlic, pictures courtesy of Archives de la fondation Erik Satie. The windows in the background are from Rue Cortot, Paris, where Satie lived during the years 1890-1898 and where also the former Satie museum where situated (now moved to Caen and Honfleur).

Modéré
(416 KB, 37 seconds)
This is my second picture animation. Music performed by me, pictures courtesy of Archives de la fondation Erik Satie. Once again we see the houses of Rue Cortot... If you would like to save any of these animations just right-click on the link and choose Save or after you have watched the animation choose File-Save As... in your browser menu.

Parade
(808 KB, 53 seconds)
This montage by Valentine Hugo is from the former Satie museum at 6 Rue Cortot, Paris. The music, performed by Utah Symphony Orchestra, is the first movement of Parade and the pictures and drawings are all dated from that time. The picture is available in Ornella Volta's iconographie pocket book Erik Satie, Éditions Hazan, Paris, 1997.


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