Walking through the streets of Paris a hundred years
ago, Erik Satie could not have looked more normal in
his black bowler hat and tie. But Mr. Satie was
dreaming of music no one had heard before ? music like
ancient chants and modern circus tunes rolled into one.
A friend of poets, puppeteers, magicians, great
painters like Picasso, and the Surrealists, Satie was
at the center of a world where sense was nonsense, and
the imagination ruled supreme.
rik Satie's first great piano period dates back to his
youth and his first time spent in Montmartre. During
these years he wrote some 20 piano pieces, five songs,
some sketches for string quartet, theatre music for
Joséphin Péladan and a little orchestral piece, later
re-used as the penultimate movement in Trois morceaux
en forme de poire for piano duet.
Among the first works by young Satie to be published
were two salon-waltzes printed as supplements in his
father's publication La musiques des familles on March
17th and July 28th of 1887. The first appended with the
curious numbering "Opus 62" (!), and the second with
the following introduction:
"Today we publish a charming Fantaisie-valse for piano
by Erik Satie. This work by a very young musician is
elegant in structure and gracious in rhythm, without
dryness. All the author's works, amongst which we will
mention Three Melodies, indicate a propensity for
reverie and a tendency to move away from the strict
laws of symmetrical rhythm."
The rather trivial, frequently-repeated phrases and the
bassnotes around the basic chords are typical of the
style of the simple salon music of the day.
At the same time, it can be noted that Satie -
conciously or not - managed to avoid the sentimentality
to the style. Instead, both waltzes have traits of
timeless simplicity. Perhaps, even, something of the
starkness one usually associates with the Gymnopédies.