Erik Satie is an under-appreciated french pianist from the 1880’s who composed music unlike any other. This unsual music reflects the peculiar man behind it. Satie would only eat white foods, carried a hammer for self-protection, had a thing for umbrellas and was ridiculed as a less-than-diligent pianist in the conservatory.
In listening to his music, we are taken to a melancholic and introspective space within the mind.
When I close my eyes and allow his popular Gymnopedie No. 1 to infuse my consciousness like tea leaves in hot water I am taken to a world that is always rainy with grey clouds. I look out my windowpane to see a young girl dressed in color walking a dog while holding an umbrella … A sense of connection with unattachment. The flowers outside my window enjoy the rain. But there is a loneliness to this mental space the music creates. There is a sense of loss coupled with an acetic independent hope. A dichotomy of a silent mind with introspection. A balance of melancholy with contentment. There is a sense of growing age that makes you look upon your years in retrospection. Furthering the dichotomy is the sense of static micro-centric time while the broader world continues on with the irregular ticking of a loping antique clock.
What once was and what will be.
In listening to his Gnossienne, we are taken to an equally rainy world. A place where deep introspection takes place. Our mind meanders through a dreamy space where we see the archetypes of humanity from the soft to the hard. In most all of Satie’s work we feel the push and pull of polar dichotomies. As we drift and flow we scale peaks and descend into valleys. We feel a melancholy angst of loss. Perhaps this reflects his potentially tormented heart from the early relationship dissolution with his one and only love in life. We can feel this heartbreak as we project our own losses onto the experience of the music.