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It still took some time for Satie' to reach his present status. Wilfrid Mellers wrote about him with insight even before Myers' book was published. To start with the initiative remained with the British and the Americans. For years John Cage, later supported by Morton Feldman, had been telling us that Satie was indispensable; Patrick Gowers wrote an illuminating Cambridge PhD thesis (1966) which, sadly, has never been published; books appeared from Roger Shattuck (1968) and Alan Gillmor (1988); and the magnificent work of the Satie Foundation run by an Italian, Ornella Volta, has established Paris as an archival centre. Volta's studies and documentation, some of it published in English, have transformed our knowledge of Satie -- notably in 'Satie seen through his Letters' (1989) and 'A Mammal's Notebook : Collected Writings' (1996).

Meanwhile Robert Orledge, after substantial books on Koechlin and Fauré, turned to Satie and produced a seminal study: 'Satie the Composer' (1990). Steven Moore Whiting, of the University of Michigan, admits his debt to Orledge and now goes further than anybody in accounting for Satie in terms of his popular music context. He has also provided more detail about it than I ever thought possible -- as a result of some twenty years' study and brilliant detective work.

Whiting explains that what is different about his book is that it is based on systematic scrutiny of the manuscripts. These have not always been carefully studied in the past. If you have a copy of Petite Musique de Clown Triste or Revérie du Pauvre throw them away since these are simply piano accompaniments that Satie wrote out and they ought never to have been published as original pieces at all!

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Copyright © 25 February 2001 Peter Dickinson, Aldeburgh, UK

 

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