A few days ago we presented a thoroughly out-of-the-ordinary activity at the Museu Picasso: as a complement to the current “Picasso vs. Rusiñol” exhibition, which among other things touches on the friendship of both artists with the French composer Erik Satie (1866-1925), we put on a special performance of the complete repertoire of Satie’s compositions for piano.
That last fact alone is enough to make it clear that this was no ordinary concert: having assembled all of the works for piano, some of which were very difficult to get hold of, the recital lasted almost six hours!
The concert programme | Erik Satie Playing the Harmonium. Santiago Rusiñol, Paris, 1891 – Pencil on paper – 29.1 × 19.7 cm
At the same time, in order to reflect Satie’s unique musical vision, we wanted to revive his concept of musique d’ameublement (‘background’ music whose function is to ‘furnish’ a space, not to be listened to for itself), so the concert was held not in an auditorium but in the middle of the exhibition, as an accompaniment to the visit. In addition to the piano in the gallery there was a second piano on the ground floor, and throughout the six hours of the concert this played a selection of pieces which provided a real musical ameublement of the courtyards and the column room. The Museum was filled with Satiean sounds, and for that special evening the experience of strolling through its rooms was quite different, with the space seeming to take on new life.
Visitors listening to the music | Detail of the pianist
Walking around the exhibition accompanied by Satie’s hypnotic, all-enveloping melodies I simply had to pay my own tribute to the composer in front of the works by Rusiñol in which he is portrayed: a very personal moment of celebration of the work of both artists, and also of gratitude for the pleasure they have given to so many people over the years.
Some of the performers of Satie’s piano pieces
Of course, a very special acknowledgement is due to the invaluable contribution from our friends at the Conservatori del Liceu, in particular to Benet Casablancas, interlocutor, inspirer and instigator of daring and musically impeccable proposals; to Tensy Krismant, who not only led the huge task of tracking down compositions and scores but also coordinated all of the musical work with the select group of performers and himself gave superb performances of several pieces; and, of course, to the pianists Alba Ventura, Albert Attenelle, Raimon Garriga, Albert Gallart, Anna Villaescusa, Lucie Croce, Verónica Martínez and Benjamí Santacana, whose dedication and sensibility filled the Museum so wonderfully with the music of this groundbreaking composer. To all of them, and to everyone at the Conservatori who helped make this recital such a success, a very big THANK YOU! and our warmest congratulations on a truly unforgettable evening of music.