Fair to say, most folks with even a glimmer of a liberal arts education or access to cultural milieus informed by same have some vague idea of who Erik Satie is. Feeling lazy here, I’ll simply quote a recent Flypaper.Soundfly listicle on the man:
“Erik Satie (1866-1925) is praised by historians for helping to provide the pre-war pathway to minimalism in classical music. His piano compositions, most famously the Gymnopédies suite of 1888 and the Gnossiennes suite of 1893, set the tone for experimentation within the next century of composers. These composers traversed new understandings of tonality, space, and emotion, even as academic trends in composition gravitated toward serialism and theory.
“Satie‘s love of repetition in melody and chordal changes helped to shape the foundation of the New York School (Cage, Feldman, Wolff, etc.) and West Coast minimalism (Terry Riley, Steve Reich). Even his compositional forms, such as A-B-A-B-C-B, can be seen in everything from early jazz to contemporary pop.”
So, we all know that, but few (myself included) likely have little idea of the background, lifestyle and other associations that informed his life and art including his involvement with a Rosicrucian Order:
“From 1891-92, Satie was composer-in-residence for the Mystical Order of the Rose and Cross of the Temple and Grail, an occult sect founded by Joséphin Péladan (yup, this guy), a close friend of Satie’s at the time. During his time with the Mystical Order, Satie composed several pieces that utilized free-flowing harmony based on nature and emotion. This era would go on to heavily influence the work of Olivier Messiaen and other mystic composers.
“After a personal falling out with Péladan, Satie founded his own sect of occultism in 1893 named Église Métropolitaine d’Art de Jésus Conducteur. To this day, Satie remains the sole congregant of the church.”
Read the whole piece here – and dig it’s nicely illustrated with soundfiles: