Noted for a handful of hypnotically alluring piano pieces and a quizzical wit, the French composer Erik Satie nightly made a seven-mile walk from the centre of Paris to his flat in the suburb of Arcueil into a prolonged pub crawl. Before dying of cirrhosis in 1925 at the age of fifty-nine, Satie produced works of urbane suavity and mystic nobility that attracted the admiration of such contemporaries as Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Roussel, Milhaud, Honegger and Poulenc, some of whom had no comparable esteem for one another. Since his death, a series of biographers and musicologists have debated whether or not Satie prefigured surrealism, Dadaism or other artistic movements.
Happily, Caroline Potter, reader in music at Kingston University London, puts Satie’s music first in this welcome new study. It is a well-reasoned look at an often unreasonable man. Among Satie’s most alluring works is the uncanny Socrate, described by the composer as a ‘symphonic drama in three parts’. Recorded