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.
Alex Metcalfe 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.
For a long period of his life, his wardrobe consisted of seven identical velvet suits,
awarding him the title of The Velvet Gentleman.
His music, including the famous Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes, was to have a profound effect on generations to come. He was hailed as the father of the new French music by the group Les Six. 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)
EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL
'Skillfully combines the musical skills of Alex Metcalfe with outstanding film production work by Keith Lovegrove.
Wonderfully artistic pieces, utterly mesmerising. Alluringly hypnotic and seductively bewildering.
It is a fabulously well-crafted work of cinematic excellence as well as being a masterly piano recital – when all of that is put together the result is an installation piece that would probably sit very well in any modern art museum.'
The Greater Manchester Reviewer
'I thoroughly enjoyed Mémoires d’un Amnésique and would definitely recommend it. Classy, thoughtful and skilfully absurd, it was an atmospheric and beautifully constructed dip into the Parisian avant-garde. So good, you could almost taste the absinthe.'
Hannah Kate, Manchester FM
'Congratulations on your wonderful, touching work. I went through so many emotions watching it.'
Rogha Bhríde Radio Show, Galway