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Final Flowering

Donald Macleod looks at Debussy's final years, and a late burst of creativity in 1915 before a steep decline in his health.

Donald Macleod looks at Debussy's final years, and a late burst of creativity in 1915 before a steep decline in his health

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.

Donald Macleod looks at a remarkable three months towards the end of Debussy's life, spent at a villa on the Channel coast which was painted several times by Monet. He went there to escape wartime Paris in 1915 with his wife Emma and daughter Chouchou, and from his letters of the time we can tell that he fell in love with the place, enjoying its garden and expansive view of the sea. He felt so at home there that despite already being seriously ill and increasingly anxious about the war, his new environment encouraged a final burst of creativity.

Berceuse Héroïque
Orchestre National de L'O.R.T.F; Jean Martinon, conductor

En Blanc et Noir
Katia Labèque, piano; Marielle Labèque, piano

Cello Sonata
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello; Benjamin Britten, piano

Sonata for flute, viola and harp
Philippe Bernold, flute; Gerard Causse, viola; Isabelle Moretti, harp.

26 days left to listen

57 minutes

Last on

Friday 13:00

Music Played

  • Claude Debussy

    Berceuse Heroique

    Orchestra: French Radio Orchestra. Conductor: Jean Martinon.
    • EMI : 7243-5 75527-2.
    • EMI.
    • 9.
  • Claude Debussy

    En Blanc et Noir

    Performer: Katia Labèque. Performer: Marielle Labèque.
    • PHILIPS : 454-471 2.
    • PHILIPS.
    • 1.
  • Claude Debussy

    Sonata In D Minor For cello and piano

    Performer: Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich. Performer: Benjamin Britten.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON : 469-130 2.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON.
    • 13.
  • Claude Debussy

    Sonate en Trio for flute, viola and harp

    Performer: Philippe Bernold. Performer: Gérard Caussé. Performer: Isabelle Moretti.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HMC-901647.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 1.

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