Erik Satie is a French composer from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century; he’s part of modernism. He’s known for his particular, caustic and personal style, conducted notably against romanticism’s conventions.
Satie starts studying music with the organist d’Honfleur, then enters the Conservatoire de Paris where he gets mediocre results. His first melodies are published as from 1887 by his father (Gymnopédies); as from that time, Satie is a precursor in many fields which will flourish later: graphic music (with no bar line) and conceptual music, collage music.
He establishes himself in Montmartre and works as a pianist-accompanist at the cabaret Le Chat Noir, where he bonds with Mallarmé, Verlaine, or Claude Debussy. He composes pieces depending on his friendships at the moment: Le Fils des Etoiles for the Rose-Croix, Uspud (Christian ballet) with the poet Contamine, Danses gothiques then Vexations about his lover Suzanne Valadon. A while after having created the Eglise Métropolitaine d’art de Jésus-Conducteur, he abruptly devotes himself to the music-hall genre.
At 39 years old, he decided to get a diploma at the Schola Cantorum of Vincent d’Indy, where he gets first class honours, kind of in order to contradict his detractors (Trois morceaux en forme de poire). During the War, he met Jean Cocteau, with whom he worked on a ballet and then in Les Six (Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Germaine Tailleferre).
His entire life, Satie fought against artistic conformism (romantism, impressionism, Wagnerism), by joining the Dadaism movement for example, or by keeping his distance from Parisian high society life and despising freely music critics of his time. His reputation as an agitator sometimes overtakes the true role his music, avant-gardist, accessible and simple at the same time, has played at the very beginning of the 20th century.