Immediately after the turn of the twentieth century,
Erik Satie turned his compositional attention, at least
partially, to waltz songs, popular in the dance halls
of Paris at the time. Most of these pieces were
composed for voice and piano or for solo piano.
Although only a few of these waltzes have been
published, Satie's sketchbooks contain dozens of waltz
strains. It seems that Satie was regularly composing
waltzes for different venues in the city and for
certain performers. Only the most famous of these
waltzes were published. A series of these, published by
Baudoux and later by Bellon, Ponscarme & Cie, was known
as the Danses d'Erik Satie. Included in this series is
the song performed by the famous singer Paulette Darty,
Je te veux (1902). Other waltzes published were
Tendrement (1903) and La Diva de l'Empire (1904).
The first waltz of the series was Poudre d'Or (1901),
which translates as Gold Dust, issued in 1902. Poudre
d'Or was published as a waltz for solo piano, with the
musical material being drawn from four waltz strains
composed by Satie. However, Poudre d'Or was also the
title of an orchestral suite consisting of six strains,
sharing only the primary strain with the piano version.
The sketches of the orchestral suite are very sparse
and do not convey the completed work. A number of parts
for individual instruments of the suite have been
recovered, but not enough to reconstruct the entire
Therefore, Poudre d'Or has one complete identity as a
piano waltz. The structure of this piece is relatively
basic, especially for Satie. This song consists of a
waltz and a trio, with an introduction and a coda. As
stated earlier, Poudre d'Or consists of four melodic
strains. The first two strains make up the waltz
proper, while the final two strains comprise the trio.
The overall structure is rounded, as the waltz returns
after the completion of the trio. Also, the first
statement of the waltz and the trio also have a rounded
form, with the first strain of each section returning
after each section's second strain. The introduction
lasts eight bars, while the coda consists of a
restatement of the primary strain followed by five
quick four bar phrases. From only four melodic strains
an extensive form of almost 300 bars is created.
This piece is also virtually conventional in its
treatment of melody, accompaniment, and harmony.
Throughout most of Poudre d'Or, the melody is presented
in a single voice at the top of the texture, with the
standard waltz accompaniment (oom-pah-pah) below.
Satie, for the most part, leaves out his quirky
chromaticism in this work. Only at the end of a few
phrases does a bit of chromaticism sneak into the
texture, leading to the cadence. The piece ends with a
grandiose series of cadential patterns, which seem to
poke fun at the exorbitant finales of "classical"
Although originally composed for Piano, I created this
interpretation for String Quartet (2 Violins, Viola &