New London Orchestra, Ronald Corp (conductor)
’English critics have been unanimous in their disapproval, and one has yet to see that their contempt is based on any knowledge of his works as a whole.’ Thus wrote the composer Constant Lambert in his 1934 searing, witty ‘study of music in decline’ Music Ho! of the recently deceased Erik Satie. And this is the view generally held of Satie at that time, and for several decades thereafter – he was a prankster, an eccentric, a café pianist and musical charlatan with little to say beyond nothing, a confectioner of trifles and peculiar titles, and a recluse who deserved to remain so. The championship of Satie’s music by the avant-garde of the 1950s and 1960s and the publication of much biographical information, and also of a collection of his own writings, have done much to redress the balance, and today he is seen in his correct historical position as something of a visionary, a composer who, as the ever-perceptive Lambert wrote, ‘had the no doubt gratifying sensation of seeing the times catch up with him’, and who was godfather of the musical movement that truly liberated music from its romantic, chromatic morass.