Gymnopédie No. 1

Uploaded on Oct 21, 2017

The Gymnopédies, published in Paris starting in 1888, are three piano compositions written by French composer and pianist Erik Satie.

The Gymnopédies are the first compositions with which Erik Satie tried to cut himself loose from the conventional 19th century “salon music” environment of his father and stepmother. In September 1887, Satie composed three sarabandes (Trois Sarabandes), taking a quote from J. P. Contamine de Latour's La Perdition by way of introduction. By this time, Satie knew Contamine personally.

Satie apparently used the word “gymnopédiste”, before having written a note of his later famous gymnopédies. The anecdote of Satie introducing himself as a "gymnopaedist" in December 1887 runs as follows: the first time Satie visited the Chat Noir cabaret, he was introduced to its director, Rodolphe Salis, famous for serving sharp comments. Being coerced to mention his profession, Satie, lacking any recognisable professional occupation, presented himself as a “gymnopaedist”, supposedly in an attempt to outwit the director. The composition of the three Gymnopédies started only two months later, and was completed in April 1888.

Satie claimed his Gymnopédies were inspired by reading Gustave Flaubert's novel Salammbô. Also Puvis de Chavannes' symbolist paintings may have been an inspiration for the atmosphere Satie wanted to evoke with his Gymnopédies.

In August 1888, the first Gymnopédie was published, accompanied by the verse of Contamine:

“Oblique et coupant l'ombre un torrent éclatant
Ruisselait en flots d'or sur la dalle polie
Où les atomes d'ambre au feu se miroitant
Mêlaient leur sarabande à la gymnopédie”

However, it remains uncertain whether the poem was composed before the music, or whether Contamine intended the verse as a tribute to his friend, who had now completed both a set of sarabands and gymnopédies.

Later the same year the third Gymnopédie was published. There was, however, no publication of the second Gymnopédie until 7 years later, with several announcements of an impending publication of this gymnopédie being made in the Chat Noir and Auberge du Clou periodicals.

The melody of the piece uses deliberate, but mild, dissonances against the harmony, producing a piquant, melancholy effect that matches the performance instructions, which is to play the piece “painfully” (douloureux). The first few bars of Gymnopédie No. 1 consist of an alternating progression of two major seventh chords, the first on the subdominant, G, and the second on the tonic, D.

satie piano classical gymnopédie no. no 1 tros gymnopédies lent et douloureux

Pages 3
Duration 04:23
Measures 78
Key signature 2 sharps
Parts 1
Part names Piano
Privacy Everyone can see this score
License None (All rights reserved)
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