‘Mémoires d’un Amnésique: A piano, a film and Erik Satie, in his own words’ is, in equal parts, a piano recital, a one-man play and a surrealist film, amalgamated into a unique theatrical experience.
This show is performed by Alex Metcalfe of Amusia. As pianist, he performs Satie’s most important works, in character as the composer from the set of his Arceuil apartment. Sarah Miles’s script, edited from Satie’s own words, is narrated against the backdrop of Keith Lovegrove’s cinematic accompaniment.
Satie, who died in a Paris hospital on July 1st, 1925, was perhaps the most intriguing and eccentric of all the great composers. The cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver, brought on by a lifetime of absinthe overindulgence as a member of Montmartre’s hedonistic Chat Noir set. In 27 years, no one but he had set foot inside his Arcueil residence.
His fellow composer and friend, Darius Milhaud, visited to help clear out the deceased’s belongings. From Milhaud’s account, there were two pianos in the apartment, one on top of the other, the higher of which was used to store mail.
The sheets on the bed had obviously not been changed in years, and strung above it was a hammock full of wine bottles. Since the apartment had no heating, Satie would apparently fill these with hot water to warm him as he lay in bed during the winter.
The minimalists and experimentalists of the 1960s, such as John Cage and La Monte Young, were strongly influenced by Satie, particularly his Vexations (a piece consisting of 16 measures of dissonant chorale followed by the instruction that the performer repeat them 848 times).
The post-minimialist trend in film music, with exponents like Yann Tiersenn and Ludovico Einaudi, is almost entirely indebted to Satie.
Narrated in French, with English subtitles (approx. 65 minutes)