The Power of Simplicity: Satie’s Gymnopédies

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Italian-born pianist Aldo Ciccolini passed away last week at the age of 89. He will be remembered as a champion of French piano music, especially the works of early twentieth century avant-garde composer Erik Satie (1866-1925).

Here is Ciccolini performing Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies. This music was especially shocking in 1888 when it was published. It doesn’t drive towards any goal. Instead, it floats along with a powerful, hypnotic simplicity.

I should be a very foolish pianist if I had to worry about reinforcing my popularity…People will not speak of me in 100 years, but they will still be talking about Liszt. That’s the reality.

-Aldo Ciccolini in a 1986 Los Angeles Times interview prior to an all-Liszt recital.

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    […] youth. The triple meter second movement enters a kind of dreamy serenity that might remind you of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies. Ravel gives us one brief glimpse of pure terror at the climax of this movement (listen to the […]

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