Music Crisis: Eric Satie

Oh my God, why did I even think this was a good idea?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s hardly an artist whose life is so full of particularities to talk about, it’s just, oh man, Satie is in a different sphere and I’m just afraid my article won’t make him justice. But hey, “fortune favors the bold” so I’ll give it a try.

What I was looking for and what I found

If you’ve been reading my Music Crisis section you know it’s really about solving a very personal problem: music fatigue. When I find something I love, something that will make my brain produce happy chemicals, I’ll listen to it obsessively until I kinda “waste it”. In reality, it never does waste since it’s always going to be a source of good memories, and revisiting it will be rewarding, just not that often.

So this puts me again in the tiring and often inconvenient task of having to find something new. See, now that I decided to talk about Satie I’ll dare to say the following: some especially unhappy people will likely develop obsessive tendencies toward topics that trigger valuable moments of happiness. Satie was a rather unhappy genius, who treasured food and drink like few other things; he would spend all his money inviting his friends to dinner, as that procured him some happy moments among the very unhappy years of his life. Me, I listen to music, I discover music and find things that touch deep regions of my mind and soul: some of these regions store pain, others store violence, hope, beauty, and some host rather unknown things that I’d like to explore even if I can’t put my finger on them.

Oftentimes, I don’t know what I was looking for until I find it, hence in a more general sense, I’m looking to feel something as I find life very boring typically. When I found Satie, I realized what I was looking for was rest, putting my mind at rest and allowing myself to feel complex things but in a simpler manner. I know, LOL.

Satie’s music does that, and of course, I’m listening to it as I write this (I always listen to the music I’m writing about, it’s yet another way to experience it). Satie is a pioneer of minimalism, this makes his compositions magical and relatively easy to listen to; he seriously intended to innovate and step away from the Romanticism of the 19th century, and create a sort of poetry with this piano, along with other interesting concepts like “Furniture Music” which we would know today as “ambient” music.

Through the minimalist eyes and hands of Erik Satie, I also come to be acquainted with some of the most marvelous music I’ve ever listened to (besides Satie’s own):

  • Ludovico Einaudi
  • Phillip Glass
  • Yann Tiersen

are just a few names that come to mind, albeit unforgettable names I treasure in the wing of my heart that stores beauty.

Satie cultivated a very particular look, which was part of his signature as an artist.

Watch this if possible

“Satiesfictions: Promenades with Erik Satie” (directed by Anne-Kathrin Peitz, fl. 2011-2014 and Youlian Tabakov, 1975-; produced by Paul Smaczny)

This short video I posted is a trailer to the “Satiesfictions: Promenades with Erik Satie” documentary.

Now there’s a lot on Satie, being an eccentric and talented character with much influence in music history, I’ve already targeted a couple books where much of his personal journals and comments from contemporaries are captured. But this documentary, besides tackling the daunting task of informing us about the man’s life and personality, does it in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and very much dignifying of the person he was, which is going further than the artistic aspect most would focus on.

Now I didn’t use the word “daunting” lightly here, Erik Satie was a rather mysterious man, not easy to understand. You can feel it in his music, you can really feel it; this was a man who dealt with much distress as it came to his own existence and purpose, a man who reached out for a reality deeper and brighter than the one the society of his time presented to him. In doing so, he managed to reach us generations later, while like many unique geniuses, most people of his time failed to see the treasure before their very eyes. Or maybe they where just a painful ingredient to completing the full picture of a man who, by knowing himself deeply isolated and misunderstood, decided to build a monument to his own genius through his work, even if only he would see it and understand it for what it was.

J.V


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