The Dolci Show

Dolci Show #12: Satie's Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes

June 14, 2020 Ted Rust and Viva Knight Season 1 Episode 12
The Dolci Show
Dolci Show #12: Satie's Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes
Chapters
The Dolci Show
Dolci Show #12: Satie's Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes
Jun 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 12
Ted Rust and Viva Knight

3 Gymnopédies (1888)                              Erik Satie (1866-1925)
3 Gnossiennes (1890)

Satie attended the Paris Conservatoire, was expelled twice for ignoring musical rules, and thereafter went out of his way to offend the musical establishment. Following the motto of Charles Baudelaire that art should “épater (scandalize) les bourgeois”, the Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes refer to dances of naked men and boys as depicted in ancient Greek pottery and the murals of the Palace of Knossos in Crete. The Gnossiennes are written without bar lines to suggest a continuous flow of sound. 

Martha Graham, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Merce Cunningham and others choreographed dances based on this music. Satie was friendly with Debussy, Ravel, and the founders of Cubism and Dadaism. Hoping to call attention to Satie, Debussy orchestrated Gymnopédies #1 and #3, and Poulenc orchestrated Gnossienne #3. In all three arrangements an oboe plays the principal melodies. 

Photo by Soichi Sunami, 1927: Martha Graham Dancers performing Satie's Gnossienne. Source: Library of Congress

Show Notes

3 Gymnopédies (1888)                              Erik Satie (1866-1925)
3 Gnossiennes (1890)

Satie attended the Paris Conservatoire, was expelled twice for ignoring musical rules, and thereafter went out of his way to offend the musical establishment. Following the motto of Charles Baudelaire that art should “épater (scandalize) les bourgeois”, the Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes refer to dances of naked men and boys as depicted in ancient Greek pottery and the murals of the Palace of Knossos in Crete. The Gnossiennes are written without bar lines to suggest a continuous flow of sound. 

Martha Graham, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Merce Cunningham and others choreographed dances based on this music. Satie was friendly with Debussy, Ravel, and the founders of Cubism and Dadaism. Hoping to call attention to Satie, Debussy orchestrated Gymnopédies #1 and #3, and Poulenc orchestrated Gnossienne #3. In all three arrangements an oboe plays the principal melodies. 

Photo by Soichi Sunami, 1927: Martha Graham Dancers performing Satie's Gnossienne. Source: Library of Congress