The history of the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Orfeó Català is written with exceptional documents: testimonies concerning the figures that were there at its founding; documents showing the connections that the Palau de la Música Catalana established with contemporary composers, or with noted soloists, such as Wanda Landowska and Blanche Selva; and finally, concert programmes and iconographic documents.
Autograph letter from Erik Satie to Antoni Nicolau. París, 1 March 1896, 1 envelope, 1 f.
The opening of this autograph letter of Erik Satie (Honfleur, 1866 – Paris, 1925) reads “Debussy has not yet finished his work [...]”, alluding to the orchestration carried out by Claude Debussy in 1896 of the Gymnopedies No. 1 and No. 3 for piano (1888). The manuscript of the orchestration is dated February 1896 and it would be performed for the first time in Paris on 20 February 1897. This letter provides new information regarding one aspect of the collaboration between Satie and Debussy, given that the correspondence of the latter makes no reference to it. Satie was living at this time in Montmartre and belonged to the Rosicrucian Order founded by Sar Péladan, as indicated by the two red stamps bearing a double cross and the inscription “Ama JC”. Satie also mentions painter Ramon Casas, who during his stay in Paris also frequented the Moulin-de-la-Galette.
His correspondent, Catalan composer Antoni Nicolau (Barcelona, 1858 – 1933), played an important role in the history of musical life in Barcelona. At the head of the principal musical institutions − the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Societat Catalana de Concerts, the Teatre Líric and the Municipal School of Music of Barcelona − he made symphonic passages from Wagner’s operas and the major works of European symphonic repertoire known. The Orfeó Català took part in these concerts and greatly influenced the composer’s output, given that Nicolau composed, during the 20th century, large choral works inspired by popular Catalan music for the Orfeó.