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Erik Satie - Gymnopedie No.3 (Orchestrated by Debussy)

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Published on May 7, 2012

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

These short, atmospheric pieces are written in 3/4 time, with each sharing a common theme and structure. Collectively, the Gymnopedies are regarded as the precursors to modern ambient music - gentle yet somewhat eccentric pieces which, when composed, defied the classical tradition. For instance, the first few bars feature a disjunct chordal theme in the bass - first, a G-major 7th in the bass, and then a B-minor chord, also in the lower register. Then comes the one-note theme in D major. Although the collection of chords at first seems too complex to be harmonious, the melody soon imbues the work with a soothing atmospheric quality.

Satie himself used the term "furniture music" to refer to some of his pieces, implying they could be used as mood-setting background music. However, Satie used this term to refer to only some of his later, 20th century compositions, without specific reference to the Gymnopédies as background music. From the second half of the 20th century on, the Gymnopédies were often erroneously described as part of Satie's body of furniture music, perhaps due to John Cage's interpretation of them.

By the end of 1896 Satie's popularity and financial situation were ebbing. Debussy, whose popularity was rising at the time, helped draw public attention to the work of his friend.

Debussy expressed his belief that the 2nd gymnopédie did not lend itself to orchestration. (Orchestrations of this gymnopédie were only realised many decades later, by other composers, and without being frequently performed). Thus, on February 1897, Debussy orchestrated the 3rd and the 1st only, reversing the numbering: First gymnopédie (original piano setting by Satie) → 3rd gymnopédie (orchestration by Debussy) Third gymnopédie (original piano setting by Satie) → 1st gymnopédie (orchestration by Debussy)

The score was then published in 1898.
[from Wikipedia]


Artwork:Leonora Carrington

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