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A New World Dawns

Donald Macleod looks at the time in Debussy's life when he was settled into domesticity, but with invitations to conduct abroad, he was away from his family more than he wanted.

Donald Macleod explores Debussy's contented domestic life in the years leading up to the First World War

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

"Several days ago I became the father of a little girl. The joy of it has overwhelmed me a bit and still frightens me" wrote Debussy to a friend in 1905. Donald Macleod looks at the only period of Debussy's life when he was happily settled into domesticity, but, accepting invitations to conduct abroad to earn a better income, was taken away from his family more than he wanted.

Serenade for the Doll
Noriko Ogawa, piano

Poissons d'or (Images for piano Set 2)
Marc-Andre Hamelin, piano

Rondes de Printemps (Images)
London Symphony Orchestra; Pierre Monteux, conductor

La plus que lente
San Francisco Symphony; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

Trois Poemes de Stéphane Mallarmé
Lorna Anderson, soprano; Malcolm Martineau, piano

Jeux
Hallé Orchestra; Mark Elder (cond).

1 hour

Music Played

  • Claude Debussy

    Opening music: Serenade for the Doll

    Performer: Noriko Ogawa.
    • BIS.
    • BISCD 1955/56.
  • Claude Debussy

    Images piano set 2 Poissons d’or

    Performer: Marc-André Hamelin.
    • Hyperion.
    • CDA67920.
  • Claude Debussy

    Rondes de printemps [3rd movement of "Images"]

    Conductor: Pierre Monteux. Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra.
    • PHILIPS.
    • 420-392-2.
  • Claude Debussy

    La Plus que lente

    Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas. Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony.
    • SFS Media.
    • SFS0069.
  • Claude Debussy

    3 Poemes de Mallarme

    Performer: Lorna Anderson. Performer: Malcolm Martineau.
    • Hyperion.
    • CDA67883.
  • Claude Debussy

    Jeux - poeme danse

    Conductor: Sir Mark Elder. Orchestra: Hallé.
    • HALLE.
    • CD HLL7-518.

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Composer Help Page

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