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Erik Satie: Mercure

  • for orchestra
  • 2 1 2 1 - 2 2 1 1 - perc(2), str
  • Duration: 15’
  • Instrumentation details:
    piccolo
    flute
    oboe
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    trombone
    tuba
    percussion (2 players)
    violin I
    violin II
    viola
    violoncello
    contrabass
  • Composer: Erik Satie
  • Dedication: A Madame la Comtesse Etienne de Beaumont
  • Commission: Comtesse Etienne de Beaumont

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Work introduction

Satie's Aventures des Mercures was commissioned by the Comte Etienne de Beaumont for a series of avant-garde theatrical performances called Les Soirées de Paris, which were produced at the Teatre de la Cigale in 1924. The designs for Mercures were by Picasso and the choreography by Massine.

The first performance was a disaster and ended in uproar. Surrealists in the audience – enthusiasts of Picasso's work – were contemptuous of Satie's music, and their anger at Picasso's co-operation with him was vociferous.

I have re-orchestrated Mercures for two reasons. Firstly, I have always felt that Satie's own orchestration has ironed out the individuality and the quirkiness which distinguish the music and I wanted to restore those qualities. My second reason is the simple one which Stravinsky gave when asked why he re-orchestrated other men's work: 'Because I love music'.

Harrison Birtwistle

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Location:
Théâtre de la Cigale, Paris (FR)
Date:
15.06.1924
Main soloists:
Tänzer: Léonide Massine - Merkure, Vera Petrowa, Nicholas Lissanewitsch

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