French composer and pianist Erik Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd. An eccentric, Satie was introduced as a "gymnopedist" in 1887, shortly before writing his most famous compositions, the Trois Gymnopédies.
The three short, atmospheric pieces in ¾ time are now published as part of the Promenade Series of Piano Music (No. 40). Collectively, the Gymnopédies are regarded as an important precursor to modern ambient music – gentle yet somewhat eccentric pieces which, when composed, defied the classical tradition.