KPFA-FM Music Dept. ➔ Virgil Thomson on Erik Satie (1965)

Analog Audio

Event Type
| broadcast
| 1965-03-16 | created
In a program recorded before a live audience on March 16, 1965 , composer and critic Virgil Thomson presents a lecture, replete with musical examples, examining the life and work of French composer Erik Satie. According to Thomson although Satie was considered an outsider by the traditional academic establishment during his early years, he was eventually blessed with the friendship of a wide variety of often younger artists, filmmakers, actors, and composers. Never particularly rich Satie nevertheless did manage a lifetime largely devoted to his music, as well as entertaining a penchant for fashionable velvet suits, new shirts (worn once then discarded on the floor), and numerous umbrellas. During the course of an hour Thomson provides a host of juicy tidbits of gossip about the eccentric yet eminently likable French pianist and composer, while also performing a selection of Satie’s works for solo piano. Towards the end of the program Thomson is joined by pianist Johanna Harris who performs the “Sonatine Bureaucratique.” The program then ends with the two joining together for a version of the typically engagingly entitled ”Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear” for piano four-hands. As someone who was intimately involved with the art and music scene of early 20th century Paris, and who personally knew many of Satie’s younger friends and associates, Thomson is fully qualified to offer such insights on the man, his music, and his times, and in this he does not disappoint, thus providing a fully entertaining and informative program that any fan of Satie’s music would be remiss in not giving a listen.

Note: The concluding musical selection mentioned in this program, “Sports et Divertissements,” is not heard.
20th century classical
Classical music
Musical Selections
Trois Sonneries de la Rose + Croix, for piano [excerpt] (1892) (2:44) -- Ogives, No. 1, for piano (1886) (1:11) -- 3 Gymnopédies, for piano [excerpt] (1888) (2:00) -- Sonatine Bureaucratique, for piano (1917) (4:40) -- 3 Morceaux en Forme de Poire (”Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear”), for piano four-hands (1903) (15:12)
Virgil Thomson, piano (Trois ; Ogives ; Gymnopédies ; Morceaux)
Johanna Harris, piano, (Sonatine ; Morceaux)
19th century classical
20th century classical
Piano music
Piano music (4 hands)
Funding for the preservation of this program made possible through a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts.