Music for the theater – Erik Satie composed for the stage and the film medium on various occasions. His Parade, a ballet in cooperation with Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso, is legendary and caused a veritable scandal when it was premiered in 1917 along with Stravinsky’s Petrushka. On Vol. 6 of Satie’s piano works Steffen Schleiermacher turns to Parade and other works for the theater, including the lengthy music for Uspud, billed as a “Christian ballet” but actually parodying Flaubert’s Temptation of St. Anthony in an absurd and absolutely blasphemous manner.
Liberty or Mortality!
Contamine de Latour, who wrote the libretto for Uspud, was just as penniless as Satie himself; they even had to share a suit. Satie’s music does not make any sort of reference to the text; it has constantly repeated motifs and prefers to run its course in the background. The two of them offered this work completed during a long dark night to the Paris Opera – certainly only half seriously. It of course was turned down, which led Satie to challenge the director of the opera to a duel!
Machinery or Scenery?
The music for Parade turned out differently than originally planned, since Cocteau, who feared that he would not get enough attention when working with Picasso and Satie, insisted on the additional use of the click-clack of typewriters, pistol shots, and sirens, with the result that the music was drowned out. Since Steffen Schleiermacher no longer needs to respect Cocteau’s wishes, he succeeds in uncovering a work Steffen Schleiermacher no longer needs to respect Cocteau’s wishes, he succeeds in uncovering a work with entertaining sides winning listeners’ hearts.
The Cinq Grimaces marked the beginning of the collaboration between Satie and Cocteau. Nothing ever came of the theater project in which other artists participated. Only Satie’s music has survived in a piano transcription by Darius Milhaud. For the short “Divertissement,” which actually was written for the inauguration of an organ, Schleiermacher retrieves something special from the original version – and with it a pleasant surprise is in store for you!