Erik Satie’s Gnossienne #4

The word Gnossienne did not exist until French composer Erik Satie made it up to describe a set of piano pieces. Wikipedia gives a good explanation: “The word appears to derive from gnosis. Satie was involved in gnostic sects and movements at the time that he began to compose the Gnossiennes. However, some published versions claim that the word derives from Cretan “knossos” or “gnossus”; this interpretation supports the theory linking the Gnossiennes to the myth of TheseusAriadne and the Minotaur. Several archeological sites relating to that theme were famously excavated around the time that Satie composed the Gnossiennes.

It is possible that Satie may have drawn inspiration for the title of these compositions from a passage in John Dryden‘s 1697 translation of the Aeneid, in which it is thought the word first appeared:

Let us the land which Heav’n appoints, explore;
Appease the winds, and seek the Gnossian shore.”

 Whatever the case, I love playing these highly experimental pieces. The 4th Gnossienne will be on my upcoming Sit Bach and Relax album, which features slow, meditative piano music of J.S. Bach and other classical composers. Listen to my entire Satie’s Gnossienne #4 here! You can also buy it here.

 Or Listen to a clip and buy the whole piece on iTunes/Apple Music. Or listen on Spotify or whatever other platform you prefer!

A huge thank you to Charlea Janette Bailey for creating a beautiful, whimsical cover that perfectly captures the spirit of Satie’s music.

To add a partially random non sequitur, I read Vergil’s Aeneid in my 2nd year of Latin studies at Cleveland State University. We had a visiting professor from Spain for the 5 brave students who had made it into the 5th quarter of Latin. He was very demanding, and often berated us for not being up to his standards. With only 5 people in the class, you knew you would be called upon multiple times every day to translate the extremely difficult dactylic hexameter epic poem of Vergil. This was the most stressful and most difficult class of my college career. Neverthless, reading Vergil’s Aeneid in the original Latin was one of the highlights of my life!

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