Erik Satie – 150th Anniversary

Eric Alfred Leslie Satie was born on 17th May 1866 and signed his name as Erik Satie after 1884. He was a French composer and pianist. A colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde, his work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, surrealism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd.

An eccentric, Satie was introduced as a “gymnopedist” in 1887, shortly before writing his most famous compositions, the Gymnopédies. Later, he also referred to himself as a “phonometrician” (meaning “someone who measures sounds”), preferring this designation to that of “musician”, after having been called “a clumsy but subtle technician” in a book on contemporary French composers published in 1911.

In addition to his body of music, Satie was “a thinker with a gift of eloquence” who left a remarkable set of writings, having contributed work for a range of publications, from “the dadaist 391” to the American culture chronicle “Vanity Fair”. Although in later life he prided himself on publishing his work under his own name, in the late 19th century he appears to have used pseudonyms such as Virginie Lebeau and François de Paule in some of his published writings.


As 2016 marks the 15oth anniverary of Satie’s birth, it is not too surprising that there are a plethora of recordings being released to mark the occasion. One of the highlights for us has been the release “Satie” by Olga Scheps which we have eagerly added to our featured album playlist.

Olga was born on January 1, 1986 in Moscow but moved to Germany when she was 6. Raised in a musical family her father, Ilja Scheps, is also a pianist and professor at the Aachen section of the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln. She began piano lessons at just 4 years old and her active concert work started when she was 12. By this time she had already won several first prizes at the German competitions “Jugend Musiziert” in 1999 as well as “Jugend spielt Klassik” in 2001. At 14, she made her orchestral debut at the concert series “Junge Elite” with the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Prokofiev at the Tonhalle Düsseldorf.

She is known for her performances as a crystal clear romanticist who delivers a teary-eyed and emotional performance. Her repertoire includes many classical works for solo recitals as well as piano concertos. She specialises with her interpretation of Romanticism – in particular the works of Russian composers and Frédéric Chopin.

One of today’s most up-and-coming young soloists, Olga has performed in Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, France, and Asia. She made her US debut performing at the Majestic Theatre, San Antonio in June 2012 where she played Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sebastian Lang-Lessing.

She is also a passionate chamber performer. She collaborates with colleagues such as violinists Daniel Hope and Erik Schumann, the cellists Adrian Brendel, Alban Gerhardt and Jan Vogler as well as the violist Nils Mönkemeyer.

Olga says “To me, music is an extension of my expressivity, the amplification of my language. The score is predetermined, but I am the interpreter. It is like acting – like the work of an actress who follows a script.”