Posted 03 June 2016
The Velvet Gentleman - Erik Satie (1866-1925)
A habitué of the Paris cafés and an intimate of Cocteau and Picasso, composer Erik Satie was enduringly eccentric, just like his music. Peter Quantrill celebrates 150 years of a true original
Posted 03 June 2016
A habitué of the Paris cafés and an intimate of Cocteau and Picasso, composer Erik Satie was enduringly eccentric, just like his music. Peter Quantrill celebrates 150 years of a true original
The Velvet Gentleman - Erik Satie (1866-1925)
Erik Satie was a man you could have walked past on a Parisian boulevard almost any day in the
first years of the last century. Perhaps it was sunny, and his furled umbrella raised a smile. Or you frowned, and looked up for signs of rain. His corduroy suit, his neat beard and pince-nez were hardly out of place, but his odd little walk would have occasioned a second glance, before you carried on your way. Like him, you were probably on your way to lunch.

Beneath this bourgeois exterior beat the heart of a passionate Bolshevik, who lived in a squalid one-room flat not in the lights of Les Halles or the shadow of Notre-Dame but a dingy suburb, where he wrote building-society advertisements for the local newspaper and gave solfège lessons at nine on Saturday mornings. When you passed him in the street, he had probably stopped to note down an idea for his latest piece, before settling himself in a favourite café with a small glass of something.

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