Classical music fans - Satie or Debussy?

There seems to be a divide in the classical world - Satie versus Debussy. It seems to me that people either dislike Debussy and like Satie, or like Debussy and dislike Satie.

These two composers lived and wrote music at about the same time, yet their music is very different.

Which do you prefer?

Both, please! If I had to pick one it’d be Satie, because I can’t do without the Gnossiennes, but they’re both high up on my favourites list.

Same, but leaning Debussy. Debussy’s La mer was one of the first classical works that really clicked for me, but Satie was all kinds of genius. Who are these people who are fighting?

Debussy’s String Quartet is one of my favorite pieces of music. I also enjoy Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun as well as his Images for Orchestra.

I probably shouldn’t admit to this, because I know I’m *supposed *to like Debussy, but I guess I’m just a cretin with no taste, because he leaves me “meh”. I have a real sweet spot for Satie, though. The Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes are right up there on my favorites list.

Satie is pretty but vapid, in an in one ear, tickle your pleasure center. and leave way. So is Debussy, and they were both trying to make musical wallpaper, but Satie was more successful. Maybe Debussy couldn’t help it, being the better, and more conventional, composer.

I admire Debussy for his complexity - he was a true genius who made his own rules.

I admire Satie for his simplicity. In an age that valued innovation and modernity for its own sake, he had the courage to write music which ambled thoughtfully and implied more than it ever stated directly.

They both admired each other, though they had a falling out over Debussy’s criticism of Satie’s ‘Parade’. One of the things found in Satie’s apartment after his death was a copy of Debussy’s ‘Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire’ which Debussy had signed for Satie.


Debussy is as conceptually and historically interesting as Satie. Moreover, Debussy composed music, where Satie’s interest is as an arid experimentalist.

Both, but Debussy didn’t just experiment – he was able to compose valid musics while working at the very border of tonality.

Neither is among my favorite composers, but I’ll have to go with Debussy. There are some pieces of Satie that I can’t even listen to.

Like the entirety of Vexations? :wink:

I think of Satie as the novelty act of his day, whereas Debussy was an honest-to-God visionary and much more profound. Satie wrote himself some pretty tunes, but he seemed to be more concerned with being cute or clever for the sake of it. Satie is gimmicky, Debussy is not.

I still enjoy playing Satie though, so I voted for both.

I prefer Debussy, but I’m good with Satie.

Not at all impressed by anything I’ve heard by Debussy, but on the other hand I wouldn’t know Satie if his ghost came up and bit my ankle. So I’m one of the (so far) two people who voted “Meh.”

I wanted to vote for both but eventually went with Debussy because his body of work is definitely much more important and convincing. Satie had some really fascinating ideas but I always get the feeling that he was a little bit lazy and didn’t try to aim higher whereas Debussy pushed the boundaries while maintaining an exceptionally high standard of quality and originality throughout his career.


I must say that Satie’s Gnossiennes impress me in a way that no other music does. I just cannot wrap my mind around the fact that they were written in the 1890’s, at a time when composers like Brahms, Dvorák and Tchaïkovsky were still active. They sound so different. Visionary, actually. Perhaps that’s partly due to the fact that they were often used as the soundtrack for modern art documentaries when I was young but still. Weird music.

Camille Saint-saens.

I voted neither. I don’t dislike Satie especially, but don’t see anything wonderful in his music.

As for Debussy, the less said the better.

Well, I’ll say it anyway. Several times: A piece is on the classical station when I turn it on. Me: “Must be Debussy.” My wife: “How do you know?” Me: “Because I don’t like it.” Piece ends: it’s Debussy.