In celebration of the 150th Erik Satie Jubilee in 2016

Erik Satie. Painting by Suzanne Valadon

Erik Satie was born 150 years ago (1866-1925) and is perhaps one of the most underestimated composers of his day. Only a small part of his works is still known today but above all, his piano collections Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes have found great resonance with some of these pieces virtually becoming a musical symbol for the typical Parisian melancholy and French art de vivre. Satie was rediscovered by the musical avant-garde of the 20th century, particularly by John Cage, and his music has not lost any of its modernity. As the composer once said himself, he did everything possible to knock imitators off course and – bien sûr – he succeeded!

Satie was a serious composer who consciously combined graphic elements and text additions with the music, providing the greatest musical pleasure to those who knew how to decipher this. The plainness of his music – short pieces consisting of few notes, simple rhythm and low technical demands, seasoned with funny texts – sometimes resulted in publications showing little editorial care.

Bärenreiter believes that Satie’s highly distinctive music deserves excellent editions. Our Urtext editions of selected piano works are prepared by Jens Rosteck, distinguished musicologist and specialist on French music of the early 20th century. They contain a Preface providing in-depth information on the origins and the background of the pieces. The German pianist Steffen Schleiermacher who recorded the complete piano music by Satie contributed insightful notes on Performance Practice. Variant readings and editorial decisions are carefully documented in a detailed Critical Commentary and the Glossary, with English and German translations of Satie’s French texts as well as unusual performance instructions, is indispensable for any performer.