This first volume of piano music by Eric Satie contains a selection of pieces taken from all the periods of his life, beginning with the early mystical works, moving on to the eccentric pieces and finally to the musique dameublement. The common denominator of these pieces is the dance or the dance concept. Some of the dances are traditional: sarabandes or minuets. Some hark back to ancient cult dances (Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes). Others are character pieces (Nocturnes), purely imaginative dance-like creations which oscillate between simplicity, irony and the grotesque (Pièces froides). The four Ogives, written in 1886 (they are therefore not amongst Satie's earliest compositions) are at complete variance with the accepted musical standards of the day. They reflect the composer's interest in Gregorian chant as well as in the architecture of the middle ages (ogive is the accepted term in French for the gothic arch). In the three Sarabandes (1887), Satie creates sounds and resorts to harmonic sequences and whole chains of unresolved sevenths which were inconceivable before his day. The blend of archaism and modernity lends to these slow and majestic dances their own special character. The Gymnopaedia were festivities which took place in ancient Sparta every July. They incorporated war-dances, musical performances and feats of physical prowess. The songs and dances, which also went under the name of Gymnopaedia, glorified dead heroes and the Gods. Satie's three Gymnopédies for piano date from 1888 and were probably conceived as funeral music. Although these slow even-toned pieces have an undeniable lyrical attraction, they can nevertheless be described as unsentimental and dispassionate. They are possibly related to the style néo-grec, a movement towards classical antiquity in architecture and literature which reached its summit under the Second Empire. The earliest of the seven Gnossiennes dates from 189 and the last was written in 1897. (Our numbering system corresponds with that of earlier printed editions but it does not tally with the strict chronology of the pieces.) Three of the Gnossiennes were published in 1913, three further ones appeared in print only recently, and No 7 is a first edition. The Gnossiennes are a continuation of the uninvolved style of the preceding pieces but they introduce a kind of oriental ornamentation (some of the pieces are based on ancient Greek scales). It is thought that the non-European music performed at the world exhibition in Paris in 1889 influenced not only Debussy but also Satie. There are two possible explanations for the use of the title Gnossiennes. The name could refer to the ritual figured dances and processional dances which featured in the lives of the Gnossiens, the inhabitants of Knossos (latin: Gnosus) on the island of Crete. The name might also be connected with gnosis (in French gnose), a religious-philosophical movement which developed in the early centuries of the modern era and having its roots in Jewish apocalyptic thinking as well as in early Christian beliefs and enlightened Greek philosophy. Satie's connection with Pé1adan had led him to take an interest in anti-clerical and partly-heretical traditions. The Pièces froides date from 1897 but they were published only in 1912. There are two series, each containing three pieces (Airs à faire fuir and Danses de travers); each series is therefore constructed along the same lines as the Gymnopédies. The titles are meant to be ironic rather deliberately misleading. The first series has a broad connection with the Gymnopédies from the harmonic point of view and the second series reflects their general melodic line. All six pieces bear a superficial resemblance with each other from the melodic point of view; nevertheless, each repeat of a melody is given a slightly varied harmonic treatment. The rhythmical patterns of the music are very free and do not fall into regular sequences, thus making it no longer justifiable to resort to the convention of bar-lines in the score. The Pièces froides hold a greater technical interest for the pianist than the preceding dances; nevertheless Satie has far from abandoned his anti-virtuoso standpoint in them. The pieces are accompanied by a wealth of instructions to the performer - Conseils aux interprètes which have already been mentioned. Some of them are comical, others simply absurd. Such instructions are already to be found in the second Gnossienne composed in 1893. The five Nocturnes were composed in 1919 and the Menuet in 1920 (the title Premier Menuet in the autograph manuscript and in the first edition suggests that Satie intended to write several such dances). These Nocturnes demonstrate Satie's ability to achieve an admirable balance between the mobility of his counterpoint and the stark and concentrated austerity of his melodic line. The Nocturnes have their stylistic counterpart in the vocal music for his cantata Socrate.