“I am tired of always dying with a broken heart.”
Musique d’ameublement (furniture music) is what Erik Satie defined some of the music he composed. Such music, which is considered to be the precursor of the genre that Brian Eno named Ambient in the ’70s, was the production of someone that was considered talentless in his formative years.
He joined the cabalistic order of Rosacrucians, he was its official musician and composed ‘Sonneries de la Rose + Croux’, until his relationship with the founder of the movement, Josephin Paladan, soured and he left the order to create his own in 1893, “The Metropolitan Church of Art of Jesus the Conductor”, which at the peak of its populatity had only one member. The purpose of this ‘church’ seems to have been ultimately to write articles and pamphlets against music critics.
His ‘eclectic’ behavior was all encompassing: it is said that once he ate a 50 eggs omelet, and another time 150 oysters; his home meals lasted 3 minutes, according to the schedule he described in his ‘Memoires d’un amnesique’ and he ate only white food. In 1895, after he composed ‘Messe des Pauvres’, he inherited a discreet sum of money with which he purchased 7 identical velvet corduroy suits, one for each day of the week, with he wore for 10 years and called himself ‘the Velvet Gentleman’.
“An artist must regulate his life.
Here is a time-table of my daily acts. I rise at 7.18; am inspired from 10.23 to 11.47. I lunch at 12.11 and leave the table at 12.14. A healthy ride on horse-back round my domain follows from 1.19 pm to 2.53 pm. Another bout of inspiration from 3.12 to 4.7 pm. From 5 to 6.47 pm various occupations (fencing, reflection, immobility, visits, contemplation, dexterity, natation, etc.)
Dinner is served at 7.16 and finished at 7.20 pm. From 8.9 to 9.59 pm symphonic readings (out loud). I go to bed regularly at 10.37 pm. Once a week (on Tuesdays) I awake with a start at 3.14 am.
My only nourishment consists of food that is white: eggs, sugar, shredded bones, the fat of dead animals, veal, salt, coco-nuts, chicken cooked in white water, mouldy fruit, rice, turnips, sausages in camphor, pastry, cheese (white varieties), cotton salad, and certain kinds of fish (without their skin). I boil my wine and drink it cold mixed with the juice of the Fuschia. I have a good appetite but never talk when eating for fear of strangling myself.
I breathe carefully (a little at a time) and dance very rarely. When walking I hold my ribs and look steadily behind me.
My expression is very serious; when I laugh it is unintentional, and I always apologise very politely.
I sleep with only one eye closed, very profoundly. My bed is round with a hole in it for my head to go through. Every hour a servant takes my temperature and gives me another.”
Satie died July 1st 1925 of cirrosis of the liver, condition probably created by his lifelong heavy drinking.