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.

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Claude Debussy Performances & Interviews


Claude Debussy Tracks

Claude Debussy
Petite suite orch Busser (Ballet)
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Petite suite orch Busser (Ballet)

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Claude Debussy
Beau soir arr for flute and harp
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Beau soir arr for flute and harp
Claude Debussy
La Mer
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La Mer

La Mer

Orchestra
National Youth Orchestra of France
Conductor
Claude Debussy
La Mer
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La Mer

La Mer

Performer
Berliner Philharmoniker, conductor Simon Rattle
Claude Debussy
Suite bergamasque for piano
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Suite bergamasque for piano
Claude Debussy
La Mer
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La Mer
Claude Debussy
L' Isle joyeuse
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L' Isle joyeuse
Claude Debussy
La plus que lente
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La plus que lente
Claude Debussy
Marche écossaise sur un thème populaire
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Marche écossaise sur un thème populaire
Claude Debussy
String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10: 3rd mvt
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String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10: 3rd mvt
Claude Debussy
Sonata for cello and piano - I. Prologue
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Sonata for cello and piano - I. Prologue
Claude Debussy
Children's Corner: Cake Walk
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Children's Corner: Cake Walk
Claude Debussy
String Quartet
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String Quartet
Claude Debussy
Danse 'Tarantelle styrienne'
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Danse 'Tarantelle styrienne'

Danse 'Tarantelle styrienne'

Orchestrator
Orchestra
Lyon Opera Orchestra
Claude Debussy
Petite suite for piano duet
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Petite suite for piano duet
Claude Debussy
Pagodes [Estampes]
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Pagodes [Estampes]
Claude Debussy
Jeux de vagues (La mer)
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Jeux de vagues (La mer)
Claude Debussy
Reflets dans l'eau (Images, Set 1)
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Reflets dans l'eau (Images, Set 1)
Claude Debussy
Estampes [1903]
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Estampes [1903]
Claude Debussy
Valse romantique
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Valse romantique
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
Jeux - Poème Dansé
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Jeux - Poème Dansé
Claude Debussy
Beau Soir
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Beau Soir

Beau Soir

Music Arranger
Performer
Anastasia Kobekina
Jean-Selim Abdelmoula
Claude Debussy
Hommage à Rameau (Images, Set 1)
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Hommage à Rameau (Images, Set 1)
Claude Debussy
Fantoches
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Fantoches
Claude Debussy
Nocturnes (No 3, 'Sirènes')
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Nocturnes (No 3, 'Sirènes')

Nocturnes (No 3, 'Sirènes')

Choir
Ladies of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
Conductor
Claude Debussy
Green from Ariettes oubliees
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Green from Ariettes oubliees
Claude Debussy
La Cathedrale Engloutie
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La Cathedrale Engloutie
Claude Debussy
2 Arabesques for piano
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2 Arabesques for piano
Claude Debussy
Preludes - General Lavine Eccentric
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Preludes - General Lavine Eccentric
Claude Debussy
Tarantelle styrienne
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Tarantelle styrienne
Claude Debussy
La Cathedrale engloutie - from Preludes book 1
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La Cathedrale engloutie - from Preludes book 1
Claude Debussy
String Quartet in G minor (Op.10)
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String Quartet in G minor (Op.10)

String Quartet in G minor (Op.10)

Ensemble
Tilev String Quartet
Claude Debussy
Reverie
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Reverie
Claude Debussy
Suite Bergamasque - Clair de lune
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Suite Bergamasque - Clair de lune

Suite Bergamasque - Clair de lune

Orchestra
Lyon Opera Orchestra
Conductor
Claude Debussy
Dances for harp and strings
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Dances for harp and strings
Claude Debussy
Extract from Images, L. 118a: II. Iberia - Les parfums de la nuit
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Extract from Images, L. 118a: II. Iberia - Les parfums de la nuit
Claude Debussy
Estampes for piano
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Estampes for piano
Claude Debussy
Two Arabesques for piano
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Two Arabesques for piano
Claude Debussy
Ballet from Petite Suite
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Ballet from Petite Suite
Claude Debussy
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, L 86
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Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, L 86
Claude Debussy
Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque)
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Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque)
Claude Debussy
La plus que lente, L. 121
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La plus que lente, L. 121
Claude Debussy
Première rhapsodie
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Première rhapsodie
Claude Debussy
Pagodes (Estampes)
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Pagodes (Estampes)
Claude Debussy
Pour remercier la pluie au matin (6 Épigraphes Antiques)
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Pour remercier la pluie au matin (6 Épigraphes Antiques)
Claude Debussy
La danse de Puck (Preludes, Book 1)
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La danse de Puck (Preludes, Book 1)
Claude Debussy
Suite bergamasque for piano, Clair de lune (feat. Simon Trpceski)
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Suite bergamasque for piano, Clair de lune (feat. Simon Trpceski)
Claude Debussy
Reflets dans l'eau
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Reflets dans l'eau
Claude Debussy
Le vent dans la plaine (Preludes, Book 1)
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Le vent dans la plaine (Preludes, Book 1)
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