Clemency Burton-Hill describes the sight that greeted friends of the composer and pianist Erik Satie when, following his death in 1925, they were finally able to enter his apartment, to which nobody had been given access for decades.

Quite apart from the stacked grand pianos and other oddities, were the stacks of letters never sent to his one-time lover, the model and painter Suzanne Valadon. Their affair lasted six months but he continued writing to her long after. His letters finally reached her some 30 years after their relationship ended.

Apparently she read and then burned them…


‘There among the chaos they found, in no particular order, two grand pianos planted one on top of the other, seven velvet suits, multiple umbrellas, a chair, a table, and stacks upon stacks of love letters to his muse, lover and neighbour Suzanne Valadon – which he had never sent.’


You may enjoy a BBC radio programme by Alistair McGowan on Satie and his life, love and those letters.

See other examples of letters unsent, and of love letters cherished rather than burned.

And the painting is by Valadon, chosen for no better reason than my liking it.


Source: Clemency Burton-Hill, Year of Wonder (London: Headline Home, 2017), p. 36

Photo credit: Free-Photos at pixabay; image credit: Young Girl in Front of a Window (1930).

Art - painting - Young Girl in Front of a Window (1930) - Suzanne Valadon


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