“La Belle Excentrique” was ordered from Erik Satie by Elise Jouhandeau in 1920. The requirements were rather particular : he was to write music for a recital which would put her onstage as an eccentric dancer. Her stage name would be Caryathis, a name inspired by her resemblance to a Greek statue.
Satie remained faithful to his principle of writing three-part works. He thus composed three dances for a piano four hands – the “Franco-Lunar March”, “the Waltz of the mysterious kiss in the eye”, and the “ ” – which were first performed June 16, 1921 at the Colisée Theater in Paris under the global title of “La Belle Excentrique, Fantaisie Sérieuse”. In order to separate the three pieces of this work, Satie added an intermède to be played between the three dances (the “Grande Ritournelle”), which allowed the dancer to leave the stage to change costumes.
When this work was first performed, it was Jean Cocteau who designed the costumes and masks. On the piano score, an optional bass clarinet part is indicated. Here it is interpreted by the baritone oboe.