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Erik Satie

Satie, Erik (ārēkˈ sätēˈ) [key], 1866–1925, French composer, studied at the Paris Conservatory; pupil of Vincent D'Indy and Albert Roussel at the Schola Cantorum. He early realized that the romantic Wagnerian style was incompatible with the expression of French sensibility, and he developed a restrained, abstract, and deceptively simple style. In such piano pieces as Sarabandes (1887) and Gymnopédies (1888) he anticipated some of the harmonic innovations of the impressionists Debussy and Ravel; but in later works such as Socrate (1918; a setting of Plato's Dialogues for four sopranos and chamber orchestra) he foreshadowed the neoclassicism of Stravinsky and others writing in the early 20th cent. An eccentric, Satie often concealed his serious artistic intent with droll humor, adding nonsense programs or facetious titles such as Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear (1903). In 1918 there gathered around him a group of young composers—Honegger, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, and Germaine Tailleferre—who were united in the reaction against impressionism. They were joined in 1919 by Milhaud and Poulenc, and were called les six. A ballet, Les Mariés de la tour Eiffel (1921), which had music by all except Durey, was the one work in which the group collaborated. Jean Cocteau, their literary prophet, wrote the scenario.

See biographies by P. D. Templier (1932, repr. 1970), R. H. Myers (1948, repr. 1974), and J. Harding (1975).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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