Why Was Satie Right? (IV)


4. Redite

– une inspiration rébellion de Cornelius Cardew –

“Nous chantons pour l'avenir.”

The adventure of music was in the determination of social conditions in the last quarter of the 19th century, as in every stage of human history. While industrialization and urbanization became the cradle of modernism as the bourgeois took the reins from the aristocracy, on the other hand, the aristocracy, which had no intention of falling off the stage, abandoned its traditions and became bourgeois. In the center of inventions such as photography, radio, electricity, telephone, which radically changed the way of thinking of the individual, the bourgeois, who wanted to direct the operation of art as well as production areas, attempted to redesign the structures in art institutions and media, away from the language of the aristocracy. As a result of all these, the academy and the art market, which have become the authority of the "art for art" approach, have centered the concept of "autonomization of art". The new quests against Romanticism, which reached its peak with the "autonomization of art", in the field of art and literature -especially in Symbolism and Impressionism movements- disregarded the salon and the academy.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the changing ways of thinking in psychology, science, philosophy and art theories, which deal with the individual whose daily life was fundamentally transformed, especially in cities where capitalism had strengthened its roots, led to brand new perspectives/questions in these areas. Moreover, these questionings were not new, they were inherited from people of thought and art who broke with tradition for nearly fifty years.

On the other hand, with the political movements centering on social class and labor as the counter-argument of the bourgeoisie that consolidated its seat, and the theoretical studies that provided the carrier of these movements, the course of modernism was diverted in the direction of Marxist dialectics. The avant-garde art, which progressed in parallel with these political/theoretical studies, was resolutely raising its voice on the opposite side in all areas of life.

In line with the distinction between avant-garde movements and radical avant-garde movements in P. Bürger's Theory of the Avant-Garde; the art approaches of radical avant-garde movements at the beginning of the century; political mobilization was part of the productions positioned together with the anti-war/opposition/socialist states of action. (1) Radical avant-garde movements, such as Dada and Surrealism, which radically questioned and rejected the reality-fiction-narrative triangle shaped according to the bourgeois approach to thought and morality, which became the subject of revolutionary activism developed in Paris; they had declared war on formalism and the dysfunctional/disconnected state of art through their collective works in which they combined different branches of art with their narrative and non-fiction-realistic approach.

Erik, who shaped his composition by opening his eyes to all these transformations in Paris between the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century, stood against the musical power, which is the carrier of Romanticism and Wagner remnants, from the first stages of his conservatory years. When his life is evaluated as a whole, it is seen that Erik's stance is not only directed towards musical power, but also takes a concrete position against power politically without separating his life from his composition. In his tendency to not belong and alienation, in his original and contradictory experiments in composition, in his personas, in the way he uses humor, in his bohemian life, in his loneliness, in the economic difficulties he proudly faced in line with his choices, in his close relations and collective productions with radical avant-garde movements, in his orientation to the thought of socialism, his membership in the French Communist Party. It is understood that Erik took a consistent attitude in his formation and ultimately throughout his life and shaped his composition in this direction.

Erik became radicalized as his composition developed, and became active in the socialist movement as he became more radical. He moved to Arcueil as early as 1898, and organized the pinnacle of his life and composition honestly in his class, in one of the city's back quarters, in the district of Ants and Others. Erik first became a member of the Radical-Socialist Committee in Arcueil for a long time, and in 1921 he became a member of the French Communist Party, which was founded under Soviet influence after the October Revolution.

The composer established close relations with Dada and surrealist movements between 1915-25; He carried the techniques he developed in the humorous period to multidisciplinary productions together with the most important radical avant-garde artists of Paris of the period, such as Marcel Duchamp, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, René Clair, Man Ray.

Parade and Relâche ballets, with the compositions of Erik, who created the archetypes of many concepts in modern music in parallel with the Dadaist and surreal motto, which are the greatest examples of provocative and holistic artistic acts of Dada, the most important unity of radical avant-garde art, deeply influenced the history of art and influenced the 20th century of modern art. It guided the political transformation of the century. Erik's compositions along with his life and the radical avant-garde productions of the period; In today's capitalist market conditions, where the individual who was maybe half-blind a hundred years ago is completely blinded in virtual realities, it continues to guide those who wish to open black holes about the political activism of art and the power of collective production.


El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!

The People United Will Never Be Defeated!

“…The extended length of the composition may be an allusion to the idea that the unification of people is a long story and that nothing worth winning is acquired without effort.”

Frederic Rzewski (2)


  1. Burger, P. (2017). Avant-garde Theory. (A. Artun, Dü.) Istanbul: İletişim Publications.
  2. The People United Will Never Be Defeated! About this Pieces: https://www.laphil.com/musicdb/pieces/5368/the-people-united-will-never-be-defeated (on 30 July 2021)


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