Erik Satie began work on Socrate in 1918. Having been absorbing the scandal of Parade and becoming quite popular in the Salons of the high-society of Paris, he started planning new works. Perhaps Debussy’s death in the spring of that year was the final liberation he needed in order to be able to express himself seriously, for sarcasm is frequently a mask for over-sensitiveness and insecurity.
But that spring finally brought Satie great joy. He was invited everywhere, and was well respected by fellow musicians. He was receiving a fair amount of commissions, and no longer had to write cabaret music, which he loathed. Satie took on Socrate, commissioned by the princess de Polignac, with complete seriousness: ‘…I’m frightened to…show more content…
Satie was constantly rejecting 19th century Bourgeois cultural and socio-political values. As will be discussed later, his music was to a degree a reaction against these values, embodied in the works of Debussy and Wagner. Later, Satie would join the communist party and become involved with Dada, but unlike the Dadaists, who wished to deconstruct language and destroy meanings, or the surrealists, who strove to expose all the inhibitions of modern society and cultivated scandal ‘for its own sake’(5), Satie wished to deconstruct music and ’return to classical simplicity with a modern sensibility.’(6)
The Search for a Meaning and the Socratic Method
The Socratic method is a way of teaching or studying by asking questions. Thus the student is led to understand the subject by arriving at answers to specific question, and further questioning, until the subject at hand has been exhausted. In many discussions in the Dialogues, Socrates leads his disciples through a long series of questions, each one following from the answer to the previous, which finally lead the student to the answer. One of the things Socrates was famous for is his constant questioning of supposed masters of poetry, music, politics and other professions. He would show them how limited was their knowledge of their respective crafts(7).
A connection can be made here to Ecclesiastes, who