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Eric Satie (May 17, 1866 – July 1, 1925) was a French composer and pianist. He was a major figure in the early 20th century avant-garde, and his music is characterized by its simplicity, its wit, and its use of unconventional forms.
Satie was born in Honfleur, France, to a British mother and a French father. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire, but was an undistinguished student and obtained no diploma. In the 1880s he worked as a pianist in café-cabaret in Montmartre, Paris, and began composing works, mostly for solo piano, such as his Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. He also wrote music for a Rosicrucian sect to which he was briefly attached.
In the late 1880s Satie styled himself on at least one occasion "Erik Satie – gymnopédiste", and his works from this period include the three Gymnopédies (1888) and the first Gnossiennes (1889 and 1890). He earned a modest living as pianist and conductor at the Chat Noir, before falling out with the proprietor and moving to become second pianist at the nearby Auberge du Clou. There he became a close friend of Claude Debussy, who proved a kindred spirit in his experimental approach to composition. Both were bohemians, enjoying the same café society and struggling to survive financially.
In 1917, Satie's ballet Parade, with choreography by Léonide Massine and designs by Pablo Picasso, was a major success. The work was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes, and it marked the beginning of a new era in ballet. Parade was a radical departure from traditional ballet, and it was met with mixed reactions. Some critics praised its originality, while others dismissed it as a joke.
Satie continued to compose throughout his life, and his music became increasingly experimental. He wrote works in a variety of styles, including cabaret songs, piano pieces, orchestral music, and ballets. He was also a prolific writer, and he published several books of essays and poems.
Satie died in Paris in 1925. He was only 59 years old, but he had already left a lasting legacy on music. He is considered one of the most important figures in the early 20th century avant-garde, and his music continues to be performed and enjoyed by audiences around the world.
Satie's music is characterized by its simplicity, its wit, and its use of unconventional forms. He was a master of the miniature, and his works are often short and lyrical. He was also a master of the absurd, and his music often contains elements of parody and satire. Satie was a unique and original figure in music, and his music continues to be a source of inspiration for composers and performers today.