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Work

Erik Satie

Erik Satie Composer

Ludions

Performances: 4
Tracks: 20
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Musicology:
  • Ludions
    Year: 1923
    Genre: Solo Song / Lied / Chanson
    Pr. Instrument: Voice
    • 1.Air du rat
    • 2.Spleen
    • 3.La grenouille Americaine
    • 4.Air du poete
    • 5.Chanson du chat
    • 1.Le rat, drôle
    • 2.Spleen, mélancolique
    • 3.La grenouille [américaine], fantasmagorie
    • 4.Le poète, léger
    • 5.Le chat, burlesque
This short cycle of five songs for voice and piano was completed in May of 1923, and received its private premier at the end of that month. The five songs-"Air du Rat," "Spleen," La Grenouille americaine," "Air du Poete," and "Chanson du chat"-are all settings of humorous poems by Leon-Paul Fargue. Fargue was an old friend of Satie's, who had previously set one of Fargue's poems, "Statue de Bronze," in 1916. Like Satie, Fargue delighted in the sights and sounds of the city of Paris, and the whimsical cabaret flavor of Satie's music was well suited to Fargue's lyrics.

The first piece in the cycle, "Air du Rat," is a setting of a text written by Fargue at the age of ten, memorializing his pet rat. Satie uses a pentatonic melody and repetitive diatonic chords to capture what Eric Gillmor calls Fargue's "childlike vision." "Spleen" is a funny little song in which an atmosphere of reflection and nostalgia is created, only to be destroyed as the poet is suddenly revealed as longing not for an ideal woman, but for "a cute, worthless blonde in this cabaret of Nothingness which is our life." Satie juxtaposed major and minor keys to represent this dualism. "Air du Poete," the fourth song in the cycle, is the shortest at a mere ten measures. Once again, a pentatonic melody is heard, accompanied by a static chord progression. "La Grenouille americaine" and "Chanson du chat" are, as Gillmor notes, "straight out of the cabaret," spiced-up with some Satiean harmonies.

As is often the case with Satie's music, Ludions did not escape scandal. At one of its premiers (either private or public), the songs were announced as Satie's creations, and the poet Fargue was not mentioned. Fargue was incensed, and began a campaign of insulting letter writing against Satie, allegedly culminating in a letter whose contents were so foul and unrepeatable that Satie could only laugh. Thus, the dispute was ended.

© Alexander Carpenter, Rovi
Portions of Content Provided by All Music Guide.
© 2008 All Media Guide, LLC. All Music Guide is a registered trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.
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