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
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

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Claude Debussy
D'un cahier d'esquisses
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D'un cahier d'esquisses
Claude Debussy
String Quartet in G minor, Op 10
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String Quartet in G minor, Op 10
Claude Debussy
Beau Soir
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Beau Soir
Claude Debussy
Voiles (Preludes, Book 1)
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Voiles (Preludes, Book 1)
Claude Debussy
En bateau (Petite suite)
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En bateau (Petite suite)
Claude Debussy
Serenade of the Doll (Children's Corner)
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Serenade of the Doll (Children's Corner)
Claude Debussy
Gigues - from Images for Orchestra
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Gigues - from Images for Orchestra
Claude Debussy
Sonata in D minor
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Sonata in D minor
Claude Debussy
Rondes de printemps (Images)
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Rondes de printemps (Images)
Claude Debussy
Première rhapsodie for clarinet and orchestra
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Première rhapsodie for clarinet and orchestra
Claude Debussy
Clair de lune (Suite Bergamasque)
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Clair de lune (Suite Bergamasque)
Claude Debussy
Rêverie
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Rêverie
Claude Debussy
Estampes
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Estampes
Claude Debussy
L'isle joyeuse
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L'isle joyeuse
Claude Debussy
Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune
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Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune
Claude Debussy
Suite bergamasque for piano
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Suite bergamasque for piano
Claude Debussy
Suite for Cello and Orchestra - I - Prelude (Intermezzo)
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Suite for Cello and Orchestra - I - Prelude (Intermezzo)
Claude Debussy
Premiere Rhapsody
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Premiere Rhapsody
Claude Debussy
La cathédrale engloutie (Preludes, Book 1)
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La cathédrale engloutie (Preludes, Book 1)
Claude Debussy
Première rhapsodie
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Première rhapsodie

Première rhapsodie

Performer
James Campbell
John York
Last played on
Claude Debussy
Beau Soir
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Beau Soir

Beau Soir

Performer
Smerald Spahiu
Miguel Estelrich
Last played on
Claude Debussy
Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune
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Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune
Claude Debussy
Poissons d'or (Images, Set 2)
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Poissons d'or (Images, Set 2)
Claude Debussy
Suite bergamasque (Passepied)
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Suite bergamasque (Passepied)
Claude Debussy
Preludes, book 1 (No 1, Danseurs de Delphe)
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Preludes, book 1 (No 1, Danseurs de Delphe)
Claude Debussy
Fanfare Overture (King Lear orch Roger-Ducasse)
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Fanfare Overture (King Lear orch Roger-Ducasse)
Claude Debussy
Tarantelle styrienne for piano
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Tarantelle styrienne for piano
Claude Debussy
Serenade for the Doll (Children's Corner)
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Serenade for the Doll (Children's Corner)
Claude Debussy
Images set 1 for piano, no.3; Mouvement
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Images set 1 for piano, no.3; Mouvement
Claude Debussy
Nocturnes (Fetes)
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Nocturnes (Fetes)
Claude Debussy
Recueillement
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Recueillement

Recueillement

Performer
Felicity Lott (soprano) Graham Johnson (piano)
Claude Debussy
La cathédrale engloutie - (No 10 from Preludes - Book 1)
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La cathédrale engloutie - (No 10 from Preludes - Book 1)
Claude Debussy
Syrinx
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Syrinx
Claude Debussy
Rhapsody for Saxophone and Orchestra
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Rhapsody for Saxophone and Orchestra
Claude Debussy
Trois Chansons de Bilitis
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Trois Chansons de Bilitis
Claude Debussy
La cathédrale engloutie (Preludes, Book 1)
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La cathédrale engloutie (Preludes, Book 1)
Claude Debussy
L'isle joyeuse orch Molinari
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L'isle joyeuse orch Molinari

L'isle joyeuse orch Molinari

Orchestra
Lyon Opera Orchestra
Conductor
Last played on
Claude Debussy
Arabesque No. 1
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Arabesque No. 1
Claude Debussy
Nuages (Nocturnes for orchestra, No.1)
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Nuages (Nocturnes for orchestra, No.1)

Nuages (Nocturnes for orchestra, No.1)

Performer
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink (conductor)
Claude Debussy
Tarantelle styrienne
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Tarantelle styrienne

Tarantelle styrienne

Music Arranger
Orchestra
Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Claude Debussy
Minstrels (Préludes - Book 1)
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Minstrels (Préludes - Book 1)
Claude Debussy
Cloches à travers les feuilles (Images, Set 2)
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Cloches à travers les feuilles (Images, Set 2)
Claude Debussy
Mazurka
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Mazurka
Claude Debussy
3 Images for orchestra [1905-12]
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3 Images for orchestra [1905-12]
Claude Debussy
Nocturnes, L. 91 - Fetes
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Nocturnes, L. 91 - Fetes

Nocturnes, L. 91 - Fetes

Music Arranger
L Marasca
Ensemble
Ensemble Musagete
Claude Debussy
La Mer - 3 symphonic sketches for orchestra
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La Mer - 3 symphonic sketches for orchestra
Claude Debussy
Des pas sur la neige (Preludes, Book 1)
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Des pas sur la neige (Preludes, Book 1)
Claude Debussy
Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque)
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Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque)
Claude Debussy
Piano Trio in G minor (4th mvt)
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Piano Trio in G minor (4th mvt)
Claude Debussy
Reverie
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Reverie
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