Erik Satie (1866-1925)

A French composer whose importance lies more in the personal influence he had on his contemporaries than in his few compositions.  He was the counselor, before World War I, of the group of young composers in France who came to be known as "Les Six," a group which comprised Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honneger, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric, Germain Tailleferre, and Louis Durey.

Satie's style can be characterized as one of complete simplicity.  He used the simplest harmonies, melodies, polyphonic textures, and formal structures.  There was no attempt to be profound.  This trend toward simplicity was the forerunner of the break with Romanticism and Impressionism and the gradual turn toward neoclassicism.  His utter disdain for the sentimental and pretentious was reflected in the titles he attached to many of his works.  These include "Cold Pieces," "Airs to Make One Flee," and "Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear."  These, and "Gymnopédies" and "Gnossiennes," are among the best known of his works.