Music in the writing of Erik Satie

  • Dayan, Peter (Principal Investigator)

Project Details

Key findings

My intial aim was to conduct the first thorough investigation of the writings of Erik Satie, to discover how they relate to his practice as a composer and to the ideas of the poets of his time. What I found was so extraordinary that more than five years later, I am still writing "spin-off" articles. Satie, in his uniquely understated and elliptical way, applied to the practice of musical composition the most advanced aesthetic ideas of his time, concerning the nature of art, the relationship between music and the other arts, and most particularly, the fundamental paradox of great art in his age: how can one maintain that art is immortal and great works of art have timeless validity, while also maintaining the principle that every artwork must be original, and essentially different from all others? Satie's answers to these questions are always indirectly given, evident from his style and practice as much as from explicit statements; but they are both profound, penetrating, and original, and highly relevant to debates about the arts in our own time.

This project, which dates from pre-"impact" days, was not designed to have any specific extra-academic impact, and it has not, perhaps, had much; but I have had some gratifying feedback from non-academics, including musicians, who have found my articles illuminating.
Effective start/end date1/01/0731/05/07


  • AHRC: £31,770.00


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