Erik Satie

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Erik Satie in 1920

Éric Alfred Leslie Satie (17 May 1866 – 1 July 1925), known as Erik Satie, was a French composer and pianist.



General quotes

Satie made several versions of this small self-portrait, with the "thought" quote - these versions have also slight variations in the text
  • I eat only white foods: eggs, sugar, grated bones, the fat of dead animals; veal, salt, coconut, chicken cooked in white water; fruit mold, rice, turnips; camphorated sausage, dough, cheese (white), cotton salad, and certain fish (skinless)."
    • Quoted by Rollo H. Myers (1968). Erik Satie, p.135. New York: Dover.
    • See also Socrate for the context of this quote.
  • Étude pour un buste de M. Erik SATIE peint par lui-même, avec une pensée: je suis venu au monde très jeune dans un temps très vieux.
    • Translation: Study for a bust of Mr Erik Satie painted by himself, with a thought: I came into the world very young in an age that was very old.
    • (Written to accompany a self-portrait caricature drawn by himself - see image)
  • On the first movement of Claude Debussy's La Mer, From Dawn to Noon: " Ah, my dear friend, there's one particular moment between half past ten and a quarter to eleven that I found stunning!" (with slight variations in phrasing and translation)
    • Mary McAuliffe: Twilight of the Belle Epoque (2014), p. 111.
  • nothing but an icy loneliness that fills the head with emptiness and the heart with sadness.
  • I took to my room and let small things evolve slowly.
    • The man in a velvet suit Lucy Daniel Telegraph Review January 25 2014.

Piano works


Satie was well known for curious directions to the would-be performer of his piano works, and also a sort of "running commentary" which he inserted into his humouristic works.

  • Postulez en vous-même.
    • Wonder about yourself.
  • Munissez-vous de clairvoyance.
    • Provide yourself with shrewdness.
  • Seul, pendant un instant.
    • Alone, for a moment.
  • Très perdu.
    • Very lost.
  • Ouvrez la tête.
    • Open your head.
  • Superstitieusement.
    • Superstitiously.
  • D'une manière très particulière.
    • In a very particular way.
  • Léger comme un œuf.
    • Light as an egg.
  • Citation de la célèbre mazurka de SCHUBERT
    • Citing of SCHUBERT's famous mazurka.
    • The piece in question that Satie was parodying was actually Chopin's Funeral March. Schubert never wrote any mazurkas that would have been well-known to his contemporaries, whereas Chopin wrote many of these pieces, that were very popular. Schubert was at the time however very often cited, for example, Satie's thentime friend Ravel had published Schubert-imitating Valses Nobles et Sentimentales in 1911.
  • Modéré, je vous prie.
    • Moderately, I insist.
  • Un peu chaud.
    • A little bit warm.
  • Très turc.
    • Very Turkish.
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