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Work

Erik Satie

Erik Satie Composer

Next-to-last thoughts (Avant-dernières pensées)

Performances: 9
Tracks: 15
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Musicology:
  • Next-to-last thoughts (Avant-dernières pensées)
    Year: 1915
    Genre: Other Keyboard
    Pr. Instrument: Piano
    • 1.Idylle, à Debussy
    • 2.Aubade, à Paul Dukas
    • 3.Méditation, à Albert Roussel
Avant-dernieres pensées (Next-to-Last Thoughts) consists of three pieces for solo piano, composed in just over a month in the late summer and early autumn of 1915. Each of the pieces is dedicated to a different person. The first, "Idylle," is dedicated to composer Claude Debussy. The second, "Aubade," is dedicated to composer and critic Paul Dukas. And the third piece, "Méditation," is dedicated to Satie's counterpoint teacher at Vincent d'Indy's Scuola Cantorum, the composer Albert Roussel. These pieces were likely premiered by Satie himself. These pieces have much in common with a group of more than a dozen works for solo piano written between 1912 and 1915, characterized by musicologist Eric Gilmore as the "Humoristic piano suites." Avant-dernieres pensées, like its contemporaries, is written with no bar lines and with no key signatures or time signatures. It is also one of a number of works comprising three smaller pieces—evidence, according to Gilmore, of Satie's "trinitarian obsession." Perhaps the most important feature of this work and the works preceding, however, is its texture. Gone are the relatively simple chordal textures of the solo piano works from the turn of the century and before; instead, this is a contrapuntal work, reflecting Satie's years of studies in counterpoint at the Scuola seven years earlier. Each of the three pieces is structured using an ostinato pattern against bitonal melodic phrases. In "Idylle," Satie uses an Alberti bass pattern as his ostinato; in "Aubade," the ostinato takes the form of two repeated chords, and in "Meditations," a triplet figure is repeated. Satie's score is as entertaining as the music itself, with breezy, abstract commentary included for the performer. The manuscript of the work was written in Satie's ebullient calligraphy. Like most of Satie's piano pieces, these are works of whimsy, and are an amalgam of "music, poetic fantasy, and calligraphy," in Gilmore's words. It is notable, however, that, unlike his other works from this period, Avant-dernieres pensées does not contain any musical quotations: Satie's melodies often included quotes from cabaret tunes, children's songs, or from other composers' works.

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