Copyright © Amusia Productions 2019

Mémoires d'un Amnésique: A Reflection of the Life and Work of Erik Satie is in equal parts a piano recital, a one-man play and a surrealist film, amalgamated into a unique theatrical experience. 

 

Alex Metcalfe performs Satie's most important works, in character as the composer from the set of his Arceuil apartment. Sarah Miles’s script edited from Satie's own words is narrated within the backdrop of Keith Lovegrove's cinematic accompaniment.

 

Satie, who died in a Paris hospital on July 1st, 1925, aged 59 was perhaps the most intriguing and eccentric of all the great composers. The cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver brought on by a lifetime of absinthe overindulgence as a member Montmartre's hedonistic Chat Noir set. 

 

In 27 years, no-one but he had set foot inside his Arcueil residence. His fellow composer and friend, Darius Milhaud, visited to help clear out the deceased’s belongings. From his account, there were two pianos in the apartment, one on top of the other, the higher of which was used to store mail. The sheets on the bed had obviously not been changed in years, if not decades, and strung above was a hammock with glass wine bottles attached. Satie would apparently fill these with hot water to warm him as he lay in bed during the winter, since the apartment had no heating.

 

For a long period of his life, his only clothes were seven identical velvet suits.

 

His music, from his famous Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes was to have a profound effect on generations to come. He was held up as the father of the new French music by the group Les Six. The minimalists and experimentalists of the 1960s, such as John Cage and Lamonte Young, were profoundly influenced by Satie, particularly his Vexations, a piece consisting of 16 measures of dissonant chorale followed by the instruction that the performer repeat them 848 times. And modern film composers such as Yann Tiersenn and Ludovico Einaudi are almost entirely indebted to Satie.

 

Narrated in French, with English subtitles.

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