Monday music: Erik Satie

Continuing my musical tribute to my brother Mark in this post-election week, I think some (many?) of my Australian readers may be in need of soothing. Mark certainly would have been.

So here is a taste of Erik Satie. In the late 70s Mark had a record which included Satie’s famous composition, Trois Gymnopédies. I like Satie and have enjoyed rediscovering him. I find the spare, reflective style of Gymnopédies deeply relaxing.

If you are in need of tranquility I recommend you listen to the long version below, which includes another suite of compositions: Gnossiennes. Viewing all the nature pictures is of course optional; you may prefer to lie back, breathe deeply and close your eyes.

I find the visuals ironic. Apparently Satie lived much of his life in a crowded, dingy urban flat (somewhat like Mark, except Satie was in Paris). He didn’t have a lot of money and what he had, he apparently spent on dozens of umbrellas and a set of grey velvet suits. He was friends with early 20th Century innovators Picasso, Cocteau and Debussy. His interests included Dada, Medieval music, and Rosicrucianism. (I haven’t included any Dada-inspired pieces because my aim with this post is to soothe, not disturb).

I suspect that he didn’t spend a lot of time watching birds and bears in the woods, but I can see why the fans who put together these videos chose natural scenes. His music has a serenity — and also, at times, drama — that is easily associated with nature. Who knows, perhaps that’s where his mind was, when composing. Or, as the following video would seem to suggest — perhaps not.

If Gymnopédies has eased your mind and the devil’s tango has raised a small smile, this last one may set you dancing your way through the rest of the day and remembering that life brings wonder and joy as well as crushing political disappointments.

I find my fingers are trying to waltz over the [computer] keyboard …


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