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Pierre Louys

Donald Macleod examines Debussy's friendship with writer and poet Pierre Louys, with whom he worked on several projects including Chansons de Bilitis.

Debussy's association with the writer and poet, Pierre Louÿs, the friend he said he loved the most.

Over the course of the week Donald Macleod explores the musical fruits of Debussy's relationships with the society hostess Madame Vasnier, writer Pierre Louÿs, poets Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck and the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Born in 1862, Debussy's childhood was overshadowed by periods of uncertainty and poverty. His father Manuel was in and out of employment and his mother was obliged to work as a seamstress to make ends meet. During the Commune, Debussy's father enlisted in the National Guard but family life hit a further stumbling block after the movement was crushed in 1871 as Manuel Debussy was put on trial and imprisoned. On identifying a natural talent and a potential income, young Debussy was steered towards a career as a concert pianist. He began his studies at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10, the twelve or so years he spent there being the only formal education he received. By the time he graduated he had made many useful contacts, some of whom we'll encounter across this week, as well as coming to the conclusion that he should focus on composition rather than performance.

Continuing this week's exploration of Debussy's relationships, Donald Macleod examines his friendship with the writer and poet Pierre Louÿs, with whom he worked on several projects including Chansons de Bilitis as well as enjoying each other's company socially.

Pour invoquer Pan (Six Épigraphes antiques)
Jean-Pierre Armengaud, Olivier Chauzu, piano

Pascal Rogé, piano

Chansons de Bilitis
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Gilbert Kalish, piano

Images (Book 1)
Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Nuages, Fêtes (Nocturnes)
London Symphony Orchestra
Pierre Monteux, conductor.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Claude Debussy

    6 Epigraphes antiques - Pour invoquer Pan

    Performer: Jean-Pierre Armengaud. Performer: Olivier Chauzu.
    • Naxos 8.572979.
    • Naxos.
    • 2.
  • Claude Debussy

    Ballade slave (ballade)

    Performer: Pascal Rogé.
    • onxy 4018.
    • onxy.
    • 17.
  • Claude Debussy

    Chansons de Bilitis

    Performer: Gilbert Kalish. Singer: Dawn Upshaw.
    • Nonesuch 7559798122.
    • Nonesuch.
    • 2.
  • Claude Debussy

    Images - reflets dans l'eau

    Performer: Marc-André Hamelin.
    • Hyperion CDA 6790.
    • Hyperion.
    • 1.
  • Claude Debussy


    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Pierre Monteux.
    • Decca 476 472.
    • Decca.
    • 2.


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