Eric Alfred Leslie Satie was a French composer and pianist who was of major influence to twentieth century music. His fame is also attributed to his unique style which was often flippant, ‘out of the ordinary’ and humorous.
Satie was born in Honfleur, Normany, France to Alfred Satie and Jane Leslie. Alfred was a ship builder and later a translater and Jane who was Scottish was musical and wrote her own pieces for the piano.
Satie is best known for the Trois Gymnopédies – you may recognise Gymnopédie No.1 which has featured in quite a few soundtracks. Parts one and two were composed in 1888 and the third in 1895.
A local organist gave Satie his first lessons and at the age of thirteen he joined the Paris Conservatoire. This was short lived as he got dismissed as a lazy and insignificant student and went to work as pianist at Le Chat Noir Café Cabaret in Montmarte. It was here that his career began. However, he didn’t become famous until he was forty five and soon after the younger generation of musicians started to appreciate his work which lead to the formation of the ‘Les Six’ to which Satie became the patron saint.
Satie never married, and is only known to have had one relationship with the artist Suzanne Voldon whom he proposed to after their first night together… He was devastated when she moved away after six months.
Satie died on the 1st July 1925 at the age of 59 due to his heavy drinking which caused cirrhosis of the liver.
Satie’s work was only really appreciated after his death and a decade after he was hailed as a genius.