Le Piccadilly

Érik Satie

Le Piccadilly

About this work

Le Piccadilly, a march for solo piano, numbers among Satie's ragtime-inspired pieces. It is a cabaret piece, one among many responsible for Satie's reputation, early in the century, as a composer of popular songs rather than art music. Le Piccadilly, along with the song "La Diva de l' Empire," were the only two ragtime pieces published out of many the sketched pieces found in Satie's notebooks. Satie's interest in ragtime, born perhaps out of the Parisian vogue of the "cakewalk" rhythm around 1900, was to resurface years later in his experimental ballet Parade.

Le Piccadilly is a simple march in a standard ternary form, following in the tradition of John Philip Sousa and Scott Joplin, as Satie scholar Eric Gillmor notes, the piece is divided into regular, even periods, with a trio in the subdominant key (a typical modulation) comprising the central section. Gillmor points out that Satie diverges slightly from standard form in that, along with the four-bar introduction, there is also an added four-bar vamp preceding each sixteen-bar strain. It should also be noted that this piece, so strongly influenced by American ragtime, actually borrows from an American song, "Hello! Ma Baby," by Howard and Emerson.

Satie's involvement with ragtime is significant: musicologists suggest that Satie may have been the first French composer to make use of ragtime, and its rhythms and character continued to flavor his music for many years.