Ravel and Debussy labelled Satie early on as a precursor, and not entirely as a compliment Ravel qualified this with the adjectives brilliant and clumsy. Hes indispensable, was Cages famous tribute. And second, I was drawn to the eccentric sweep of his biography - much of which, as they say, you couldnt make. And his music for René Clairs 1925 surrealist film EntrActe was remarkable for being bespoke and synchronised with the pictures. First, I was struck by the fact that his best known pieces, the Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes, are unrepresentative of a larger and later body of work that is much more quirky and revolutionary. A biopic would have pretty much everything: the heart-warming story of a talented but strange man whose early failure and obscurity led to late-in-life celebrity; some acrobatic sex (literally his one-and-only girlfriend had previously run away to the circus strong language, violence, scandal and litigation. And then there is a reasonable amount of text by me perhaps more than I expected when I started out, because, perhaps optimistically, I thought that with all the rich Satie-and-friends source material, it would merely be a cut-and-paste job. It may be the timeless purity and melancholy of Saties Gymnopédie No 1 which has made it a pop classic, but it was Saties later output which is arguably more important, and which drew him to someone like John Cage, no less: Its not. Ive been fascinated by Saties life and music ever since writing sleeve notes for a recording of his piano music some 20 years ago. Satie was the first (known) composer to alter the sound of a piano by preparing it, back in 1914. Satie: a body of work that is quirky and revolutionary. It soon became apparent that more subtlety was required; my role as assembler-writer has been to shape the narrative and music around each other, and to attempt to present a complex psychological profile that encompasses his loneliness, his likeableness, his violent temper, his brilliance, his. It is no coincidence that some of his closest friends, latterly, were radical artists such as Man Ray, Brancusi and Duchamp, or a much younger, go-ahead set of Paris-based composers such as Les Six. And did he really once consume 150 oysters in one go? Half monologue, half piano recital, its hour-plus span showcases the full, startling breadth of Saties piano output and interweaves an ageing Satie reflecting on his riotously varied, chaotically creative and intermittently dysfunctional life. The stories of his peculiarity are legion. The omelette he is supposed to have eaten made from 30 eggs, or his consumption of 150 oysters in one.
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