This music is associated with Satie's so-called "Rosicrucian Adventure," and his relationship with the writer and mystic Joseph-Aime Péladan. Péladan's artistic aims, as noted by Satie scholar Alan Gillmor, were to "ruin realism, reform Latin taste and create a school of idealist art." Péladan proposed the "Rosicrucian salon," along with a long list of rules, many of which were polemic aesthetic judgments, delineating which kinds of works were permissible and which were banned from the salon. The music of Richard Wagner was valued by the Rosicrucians above all other music.
Satie's association with the Rosicrucian's may seem strange, given that he became an important member of the anti-Wagnerian movement in French music, and indeed this association with Péladan and his "order" was short-lived. Péladan, however, is the author of Le Fils des étoiles, a play for which Satie composed incidental music. Péladan offered his play to all of the major theaters in Paris, but it was rejected everywhere. Ultimately, Péladan was forced to open his own theater, Théâtre de la Rose-Croix, in order to see his dramatic works performed. In 1897, Péladan produced six of his dramas, two of which contained instrumental music by Satie.
Le Fils des étoiles exists today only as a piano score. Each act of the play had a prelude, and these three preludes are generally grouped with Satie's solo piano music; however, as Gillmor has suggested, it seems that Satie had originally scored the music for harps and flutes. Each prelude has a descriptive title: Act I, "The Calling" (Chaldean Night); Act II, "The Initiation" (The Lower Room of the Grand Temple); Act III, "The Incantation" (The Terrance of Patesi Goudea's Palace). The music is, for the most part, typically Satiean, with its use of quartal harmony (chords constructed using the interval of a fourth, rather than the traditional tertian structure using thirds), and chains of parallel triadic chords (sevenths and ninths): the effect of these harmonic structures, combined with modal melody reminiscent of plainchant, is to create a sense of timelessness, of immobility.
The play was not well-received by audiences and critics. It was, as Gillmor describes it, "an expensive fiasco." The result was that Péladan's financial backer, who paid for the new theater, withdrew his support. Satie 's association with Péladan also came to an end a few short years later.