Erik Satie

Le fils des étoiles, Chaldean pastoral, 3 preludes for piano

    Description by Alexander Carpenter

    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.

    Parts/Movements

    1. La vocation
    2. L'initiation (The Initiation; The Lower Room of the Grand Temple)
    3. L'incantation (The Incantation; The Terrace of Patesi - Priest-King, Goudea's Palace)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Erato 555263
    2015 Alto MCSCD 1276
    2015 Erato / Warner Classics 0825646047963
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94087
    2011 EtCetera Records KTC 1427
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968582
    2009 Sony BMG / Sony Classical 8869753207
    2008 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT080901
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93559
    2006 Lt / LTM LTMCD 2469
    2006 Philips 4657706
    2005 Arte Nova 277970
    2005 Audiophile Classics 14
    2003 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243585602
    2003 Decca 000023002
    2003 EMI Classics
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 74534
    2002 Legacy 89858
    2002 Forlane 16591
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 568994
    2001 Black Box / Black Box Classics 1057
    2000 Mandala 4975/79
    1998 Arte Nova 27797
    1996 Philips 454 048-2PH
    1994 BIS 586
    1994 Mandala 4821
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 67282
    Accord 201022
    Brilliant Classics 93559/5
    Accord 220742
    Conifer 51512