On this day in France, 1866, the avant-garde composer Erik Satie (1866-1925) was born. A colorful figure in Paris's artistic scene at the time, his work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism and Surrealism. His most famous composition is his Gymnopedies. Some of his friends included Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Jean Cocteau, as Satie played and composed in and around the Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre.
To be sure, Satie was eccentric. Some tidbits:
He founded his own religion. He had spent some time with occultist Josephin Peladan until Satie broke ties with him to found Eglise Metropolitaine d'Art de Jesus Conducteur. Not liking any official religion, he made his own. He was its only member.
He was a bad pianist. As a student at school, one teacher descriped him as being "the laziest student in the Conservatoire."
He only ate white foods. Eggs, sugar, shredded bones, dead animal fats, rice and moldy fruit were a part of his diet.
He carried a hammer around with him to defend himself against attackers.
He had a large collection for umbrellas. Upon his death, in his filthy room were over 100 umbrellas scattered about.
And the man himself: