Claude Debussy
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1862-08-22
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Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy Biography (BBC)

Charting Debussy’s education tells us little about his roots. His rebellion against his teacher’s admonishment of his delight in a series of ‘forbidden’ harmonies resulted in his conclusion that ‘mon plaisir’ was the only rule: individuality and hedonism were all that mattered. His real teachers were close friends, lovers (sometimes), literature of many sorts and, perhaps, painting.

In his youth he was introduced to contemporary French poetry – particularly that of Banville, Verlaine and Mallarmé – through a relationship with an older woman. From song-writing he moved on to cantatas such as La damoiselle élue, a setting of a poem by the English Pre-Raphaelite poet-painter Rossetti. Debussy’s one outstanding operatic venture, Pelléas et Mélisande, occupied him for much of the 1890s, but in this decade he also deepened his ability to parallel the work of contemporary poets, both in songs and in the purely orchestral Prélude à L’après-midi d’un faune.

Another side of his output has often been compared to Impressionist painting. But the painter whose work is closer to Debussy’s ideas was James McNeill Whistler, whose series of works entitled Nocturnes may be connected to the composer’s orchestral triptych of 1897–9.

Never complacent and always seeking new challenges in every aspect of composition, in the new century he would turn to the evocation of entirely different places. Most celebrated is his only piece that resembles a symphony: La mer. It captures not only the sounds and rhythms of the sea, but also the changing weather and time of day. Further exploits – including the orchestral Images – would take Debussy to Spain.

Alongside these masterpieces of orchestral evocation, Debussy also developed a highly personal piano style. Perhaps the first piece to show a marked difference from his earlier piano music was the first piece from the two books of Images for piano, ‘Reflets dans l’eau’. Its rippling arpeggios, bathed in pedal, pioneered a new Impressionist piano style.

In the two books of Préludes for piano Debussy showed the infinite variety of his imagination. Enigmatically printed with the titles at the end rather than at the beginning, almost all the pieces have some kind of extramusical association: perhaps with a place, or a literary idea. The sequel to the Préludes was a set of pieces with no associations other than to themselves: a set of 12 piano Études.

Among the composer’s last works, the ballet Jeux is regarded as a highlight, and of the six planned late sonatas only three were written. Of the three unwritten sonatas, that for the extraordinary combination of oboe, horn and harpsichord must rank among the most lamented of planned works never to have reached fruition.

Profile © Richard Langham Smith

Claude Debussy Biography (Wikipedia)

(Achille) Claude Debussy (22 August 1862 – 25 March 1918) was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Born to a family of modest means and little cultural involvement, Debussy showed enough musical talent to be admitted at the age of ten to France's leading music college, the Conservatoire de Paris. He originally studied the piano, but found his vocation in innovative composition, despite the disapproval of the Conservatoire's conservative professors. He took many years to develop his mature style, and was nearly 40 when he achieved international fame in 1902 with the only opera he completed, Pelléas et Mélisande.

Debussy's orchestral works include Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1894), Nocturnes (1897–1899) and Images (1905–1912). His music was to a considerable extent a reaction against Wagner and the German musical tradition. He regarded the classical symphony as obsolete and sought an alternative in his "symphonic sketches", La mer (1903–1905). His piano works include two books of Préludes and two of Études. Throughout his career he wrote mélodies based on a wide variety of poetry, including his own. He was greatly influenced by the Symbolist poetic movement of the later 19th century. A small number of works, including the early La Damoiselle élue and the late Le Martyre de saint Sébastien have important parts for chorus. In his final years, he focused on chamber music, completing three of six planned sonatas for different combinations of instruments.

This entry is from Wikipedia, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. If you find the biography content factually incorrect or highly offensive you can edit this article at Wikipedia. Find out more about our use of this data.

Claude Debussy Performances & Interviews


Claude Debussy Tracks

Claude Debussy
La cathédrale engloutie
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La cathédrale engloutie

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Claude Debussy
Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque)
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Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque)
Claude Debussy
The Snow is Dancing (Children's Corner)
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The Snow is Dancing (Children's Corner)
Claude Debussy
Danse sacrée et danse profane
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Danse sacrée et danse profane
Claude Debussy
Des pas sur la neige (Preludes, Book 1)
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Des pas sur la neige (Preludes, Book 1)
Claude Debussy
Rêverie
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Rêverie
Claude Debussy
La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin
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La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin
Claude Debussy
Children's Corner No 6 ('Golliwogg's Cakewalk'
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Children's Corner No 6 ('Golliwogg's Cakewalk'
Claude Debussy
Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses (Preludes, Book 2)
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Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses (Preludes, Book 2)
Claude Debussy
Nocturnes - Fetes
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Nocturnes - Fetes
Claude Debussy
Syrinx for flute solo
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Syrinx for flute solo
Claude Debussy
Clair de lune
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Clair de lune
Claude Debussy
Cello Sonata
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Cello Sonata
Claude Debussy
The Snow is Dancing (Children's Corner)
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The Snow is Dancing (Children's Corner)
Claude Debussy
No. 7 Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest from Preludes - book 1
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No. 7 Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest from Preludes - book 1
Claude Debussy
L' Isle joyeuse
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L' Isle joyeuse
Claude Debussy
En bateau arr Galway
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En bateau arr Galway
Claude Debussy
Serenade for the Doll (Children's Corner)
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Serenade for the Doll (Children's Corner)
Claude Debussy
Danseuses de Delphes, La cathedrale engloutie (Preludes Book 1)
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Danseuses de Delphes, La cathedrale engloutie (Preludes Book 1)
Claude Debussy
La Soiree dans Grenade, (No.2 from Estampes)
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La Soiree dans Grenade, (No.2 from Estampes)
Claude Debussy
Iberia: Images for Orchestra, No. 2 (1909)
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Iberia: Images for Orchestra, No. 2 (1909)
Claude Debussy
'Et la lune descend sur la temple qui fut' from Images set 2 for piano, no.2
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'Et la lune descend sur la temple qui fut' from Images set 2 for piano, no.2
Claude Debussy
Cello Sonata in D minor (Prologue)
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Cello Sonata in D minor (Prologue)
Claude Debussy
La fille aux cheveux de lin (Preludes, Book 1)
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La fille aux cheveux de lin (Preludes, Book 1)
Claude Debussy
Dr Gradus ad Parnassum (Children's Corner)
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Dr Gradus ad Parnassum (Children's Corner)
Claude Debussy
La fielle aux cheveux de lin
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La fielle aux cheveux de lin
Claude Debussy
La Mer
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La Mer
Claude Debussy
Deux Arabesques No.1
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Deux Arabesques No.1
Claude Debussy
Pastorale from Sonata for flute, viola and harp
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Pastorale from Sonata for flute, viola and harp
Claude Debussy
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
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Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Performer
Upama Muckensturm
Philibert Perrine
Amaury Viduvier
Fabian Ziegler
Tsuyoshi Moriya
Dimitri Pavlov
Gregor Hrabar
Ruiko Matsumoto
Sophie Lücke
Esthea Kruger
Stefanie Mirwald
Claude Debussy
Sirenes (Nocturnes)
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Sirenes (Nocturnes)
Claude Debussy
Images for orchestra
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Images for orchestra
Claude Debussy
Sonata in G Minor, L. 140
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Sonata in G Minor, L. 140
Claude Debussy
Reve (Orchestral Suite no.1)
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Reve (Orchestral Suite no.1)
Claude Debussy
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
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Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Claude Debussy
Danse sacree et danse profane for harp and strings
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Danse sacree et danse profane for harp and strings
Claude Debussy
3 Chansons de Charles d'Orleans
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3 Chansons de Charles d'Orleans
Claude Debussy
En Blanc et Noir, L.134
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En Blanc et Noir, L.134
Claude Debussy
Estampes: I. Pagodes. Modérément animé
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Estampes: I. Pagodes. Modérément animé
Claude Debussy
La fille aux cheveux de lin
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La fille aux cheveux de lin
Claude Debussy
La fille aux cheveux de lin (Preludes, Book 1)
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La fille aux cheveux de lin (Preludes, Book 1)
Claude Debussy
La Mer: Dialogue du vent et de la mer
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La Mer: Dialogue du vent et de la mer
Claude Debussy
Arabesque no.1 in E major
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Arabesque no.1 in E major
Claude Debussy
La Mer - 3rd Movement
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La Mer - 3rd Movement
Claude Debussy
Passepied (Suite bergamasque)
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Passepied (Suite bergamasque)
Claude Debussy
La Cathedrale engloutie - from Preludes book 1
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La Cathedrale engloutie - from Preludes book 1
Claude Debussy
'Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir' from Preludes Book 1
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'Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir' from Preludes Book 1
Claude Debussy
Nocturne in D flat major
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Nocturne in D flat major
Claude Debussy
Preludes - book 2, no.5; Bruyeres
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Preludes - book 2, no.5; Bruyeres
Claude Debussy
Tarantelle styrienne for piano
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Tarantelle styrienne for piano
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