Satie the Bohemian: From Cabaret to Concert Hall

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Erik Satie (1866-1925) came of age in the bohemian subculture of Montmartre, with its artists' cabarets and cafes-concerts. Yet apologists have all too often downplayed this background as potentially harmful to the reputation of a composer whom they regarded as the progenitor of modern French music. Whiting argues, on the contrary, that Satie's two decades in and around Montmartre decisively shaped his aesthetic priorities and compositional strategies. He gives the fullest account to date of Satie's professional activities as a popular musician, and of how he transferred the parodic techniques and musical idioms of cabaret entertainment to works for concert hall. From the esoteric Gymnopedies to the bizarre suites of the 1910s and avant-garde ballets of the 1920s (not to mention music journalism and playwriting), Satie's output may be daunting in its sheer diversity and heterodoxy; but his radical transvaluation of received artistic values makes far better sense once placed in the fascinating context of bohemian Montmartre.