Friday, February 26, 2016

Today it is called "innovative" but then it was call odd and strange - "Strange Mr. Satie: Composer of the Absurd" by M.T.Anderson

ISBN: 9780763687755
Paperback $7.99
My thoughts: The progression of music through time has taken the listener from primitive drums to the Gregorian Chant and from there to the centuries of great classical music from artists such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Handle. But at the end of the 1800s when Erik Satie began to compose and play his music, it was seen and heard and absurd, loud, ridiculous, and strange.

Erik Satie himself was a bit of an oddity in that he didn't like the ways things were - rules for how music should be, rules for behavior in school, rules for romance, rules for how to dress. He was at odds even with the French avant-garde community of those days.

My three girls took years of piano lessons and studied music on into college. I don't recall their playing any of Satie's compositions though they did play twentieth century composers. So to see just who Erik Satie was and what his music was all about that was so absurd and disruptive, I looked him up and found a plethora of listings online of his music.

Now about this children's biography Strange Mr. Satie: Composer of the Absurd. I have reviewed another of M.T.Anderson's biographies - Handel and found that he and the illustrators do a magnificent job of presenting these people to the young child. They make it interesting, fun, and informative. And they make the Mommy or Teacher want to research further into the life of the individual and his work.

The quirky life and absurdity of Satie is well captured by Petra Mathers illustrations. The cover illustration of a Satie seated at a grand piano with a jumble of stuff emanating from the sound board interior of the piano is spot on to represent the mixture of sounds Satie incorporated into his music.

The author M.T.Anderson tells the story of Satie's sad and troubled life with an easy style in short lines of prose. He helps the reader garner a bit of an understanding that this troubled man who had a wealth of music stored inside him that was trying to be released and the difficulties he had in coping with the realities of his day.

A terrific children's biography and perhaps it could lead to a study of music styles and troubled artists.

About the book: Throughout his life, Erik Satie wanted to make a new kind of music, a kind of music both very young and very old, very bold and very shy, that followed no rules but its own.

At first glance, Erik Satie looked as normal as anyone else in Paris one hundred years ago. Beyond his shy smile, however, was a mind like no other. When Satie sat down at the piano to compose or play music, his tunes were strange and dreamlike, his melodies topsy-turvy and discordant. Many people hated his music. Few understood it. But to Erik Satie there was sense in nonsense, and the vibrant, surreal compositions of this eccentric man-child would go on to influence many artists.
In a brilliant performance worthy of the composer, M. T. Anderson and Petra Mathers present a picture-book biography of the singular Erik Satie.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are solely my own. I was not compensated for the review.


  1. Sounds like a totally unique biography. But, of course , a lot of geniuses had a very disturbed life and are hard to understand. Thanks for sharing the book at Booknificient Thursday.

  2. I've not heard of this composer, but we'd definitely enjoy learning about him! Thanks for being a part of the Booknificent Thursday reading community this week!

  3. This sounds so interesting; I've never heard of him.


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