Sports et divertissements is a collection of 21 pieces for piano. These pieces are miniatures, and they combine music, poetry, calligraphy, and art in a charming and intimate way. Each piece in this set is very short, none more than four lines long, and each is accompanied by a small poem, and by Satie's irreverent verbal commentary. When the work was first published, it appeared with in Satie's own hand, the music written in his idiomatic, calligraphic style, with red and black ink. It is also important to note that, along with the poetry, calligraphy, and commentary, each piece of music is accompanied by a tiny sketch.
With each piece, there is at least some connection between the music and the events or characters depicted in the accompanying poem. For example, in "Le Water-Chute," Satie depicts a waterfall with obvious descending scales; in "La Peche," the struggle between a fisherman and his would-be catch is depicted through the use of subtle ostinatos suggesting water, and short, skittish musical figures suggesting darting fish. The work as a whole offers perhaps the most in-depth access to Satie the composer; that is, every aspect of Satie's complex musical personality is represented here, as some of the pieces are witty, some pensive, some esoteric, some ironic, and some somber. For critics and musicologists alike, Sports et divertissements is generally regarded as one of Satie's best and most important works, for it represents, finally, the amalgamation of most of the stylistic idioms th composer had been developing in the years preceding this work. Alan Gillmor very elegantly has described Sports et divertissements as "the one work in which the variegated strands of Satie's artistic experience are unselfconsciously woven into a fragile tapestry of sight and sound -- a precarious union of Satie the musician, the poet, and the calligrapher."