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Erik Satie (1866-1925)


(Enfantillages Pittoresques)

Emir Gamsız, piano


This piece is in the album:

"Classical Lullabies"

Read about the album: Click here.

Read about the composer: Click here.

Read about the pianist: Click here.

Listen to the preview:


Satie's Lullaby is dated October 22, 1913, dedicated to Madame Leon Verveuil, and its tempo is set at Lent (slow). This lullaby is part of his famous piece, Picturesque Childhood (Enfantillages Pittoresques), that he composed for children. In the work, the little Pierrot was put on the bed by his mother at night and tucked. She assures him his grandparents will know he was a good boy - they'll see it in the newspaper.

Picturesque Childhood is Erik Satie's three sets of introductory piano pieces "written with the aim of preparing children for the sound patterns of modern music".  It was composed in October 1913 and published the following year, but two additional sets were published after his death. Many of Satie's contemporaries spoke of his essentially childlike nature. He identified with children, and his respect for their innocence and naiveté has been related to his own quest for purity and directness in music. From 1908 to 1910 he ran a charity group in his hometown of Arcueil to take orphans and poorer boys and girls on country outings; and on Sunday mornings he gave them solfège lessons and improvised melodies with funny titles to make them laugh. This side of Satie found its most direct creative expression in the Picturesque Childhood, music his first biographer Pierre-Daniel Templier described as not "about children, or for children, but of a child."

These are genuine children's pieces, crafted for small hands, with simple themes that can be easily learned. Each set is built on a different five-finger scale, using only the white keys of the piano. The music is gradually more advanced and the degree of technical difficulty increases.  As with his humoristic piano suites of the period (1912-1915), Satie's eccentric wit is evident in the titles and playful narratives appended to the Picturesque Childhood. He avoids didacticism in order to give his little students the freedom to engage in music through play. He avoids didacticism in order to give his young pupils "the freedom to engage in the music through play...Satie hoped to have children learn without knowing they were doing so. Indeed, these pieces were designed — visually, musically, textually, and physically — with the delight of the child in mind."

Satie never lost his devotion to young people and the promise of the future they represented. This later manifested itself in his support of the emerging composers who made up Les Six and the "Arcueil School". Towards the end of his life he told Darius Milhaud, "I should so much like to know what kind of music the children who are now four years old will write".