Gymnopédie No. 1 - Erik Satie

Gymnopédie No. 1 - Erik Satie

Gymnopédie No. 1, composed by Erik Satie, is one of the most beloved pieces of 20th-century music. This iconic classical piano composition has become a staple of musical culture and a timeless classic. Written in three sections, Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1 gently captures the emotion of somber reflection and longing in a way that only music can do.

Musical Style

Gymnopédie No. 1 is written in the style of a vintage “grave”, a French form of composition which has its roots in religious music. It is about seven minutes long and consists of three parts. Each movement is built on sparse, simple melodies that evoke a mood of contemplation and sadness. It is almost entirely instrumental, with just a few brief passages of singing. The accompaniment is provided by a sparse piano arrangement that is underpinned by a gentle string arrangment.


Gymnopédie No. 1 was composed in 1888 by Erik Satie, and it was first published the following year. It has since been recorded and re-released numerous times, with its classic sound becoming an internationally beloved standard. The piece has been featured in films, television programs, commercials, and video games.


Gymnopédie No. 1 is a popular piece of music for many reasons. Its accessible melody and simple arrangement have a universal appeal, while its melancholic tone can touch even the hardest heart. With its intriguing history and inspiration, it is a piece that never fails to stir the soul.


Gymnopédie No. 1 is a gentle and melancholic piece that evokes a reflective mood. It has several nuances of grief, longing and sadness, and its sparse melody is designed to build to a climax in each movement. Its somber tone and gentle rhythms draw the listener into a contemplative state of mind.

History & Inspiration

Gymnopédie No. 1 was inspired by the ancient Greek practice of “gymnopaidia,” meaning “songs of games.” Satie sought to imitate the oddly structured combination of singing and dancing which was used to celebrate victory in ancient Greece. His music includes several motifs inspired by the “gymnopaidia” which allude to a distant, mythological past.


Gymnopédie No. 1 is considered to be Satie’s most notable piece, and it has come to be seen as a classic of 20th-century music. Its legacy as a timeless classic can be seen in the countless covers, recordings and homages that have been made in its honor. It is meant to evoke a sense of wistful contemplation, touching the player and listener on an emotional level.

Publication date: 17. 02. 2023