S is for Erik Satie

Who does not love brief eccentric piano works? I know I do and have done for most of my life.

When I was very young I would Listen With Mother and on a good day the not very exciting story and inane song would not be of sufficient length to fill the space before the news headlines and so a short piece of music would be played. On a very good day the short piece of music would be by Erik Satie. As he composed numerous short pieces it was often a very good day.

One exceptionally short piece was Bonjour Biqui, Bonjour.

Biqui was his affectionate name for the one love of his life during their brief relationship.

Another short piece was never published/performed during his life but includes a suggestion that it be played repeatedly 840 times.

In the 1960s John Cage and a relay team of pianists decided to give it a try. It took over 18 hours to complete (it can take longer). At the completion a member of the much diminished audience shouted “Encore!”.

391 Cover
Satie contributed to the Dada magazine 391 with his eccentric sense of humour fitting well with the Dada spirit. Anyone arriving at a theatre to see the ballet Relâche may wonder if the performance is cancelled. The performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring the Fratellini family clowns, and supervised by Edgard Varèse never opened and as Varèse soon departed for America they did not collaborate again.

Things to do before I die: Learn to play the piano and play Satie’s piano pieces.

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