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Claude Debussy

Biography

Born: 1862   Died: 1918   Country: France   Period: Romantic
Claude Debussy (born Achille-Claude Debussy) was among the most influential composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His mature compositions, distinctive and appealing, combined modernism and sensuality so successfully that their sheer beauty often obscures their technical innovation. Debussy is considered the founder and leading exponent of musical Impressionism (although he resisted the label), and his adoption of Read more non-traditional scales and tonal structures was paradigmatic for many composers who followed.
The son of a shopkeeper and a seamstress, Debussy began piano studies at the Paris Conservatory at the age of 11. While a student there, he encountered the wealthy Nadezhda von Meck (most famous as Tchaikovsky's patroness), who employed him as a music teacher to her children; through travel, concerts and acquaintances, she provided him with a wealth of musical experience. Most importantly, she exposed the young Debussy to the works of Russian composers, such as Borodin and Mussorgsky, who would remain important influences on his music.
Debussy began composition studies in 1880, and in 1884 he won the prestigious Prix de Rome with his cantata L'enfant prodigue. This prize financed two years of further study in Rome -- years that proved to be creatively frustrating. However, the period immediately following was fertile for the young composer; trips to Bayreuth and the Paris World Exhibition (1889) established, respectively, his determination to move away from the influence of Richard Wagner, and his interest in the music of Eastern cultures.
After a relatively bohemian period, during which Debussy formed friendships with many leading Parisian writers and musicians (not least of which were Mallarmé, Satie, and Chausson), the year 1894 saw the enormously successful premiere of his Prélude ŕ l'aprčs-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) -- a truly revolutionary work that brought his mature compositional voice into focus. His seminal opera Pelléas et Mélisande, completed the next year, would become a sensation at its first performance in 1902. The impact of those two works earned Debussy widespread recognition (as well as frequent attacks from critics, who failed to appreciate his forward-looking style), and over the first decade of the twentieth century he established himself as the leading figure in French music -- so much so that the term "Debussysme" ("Debussyism"), used both positively and pejoratively, became fashionable in Paris. Debussy spent his remaining healthy years immersed in French musical society, writing as a critic, composing, and performing his own works internationally. He succumbed to colon cancer in 1918, having also suffered a deep depression brought on by the onset of World War I.
Debussy's personal life was punctuated by unfortunate incidents, most famously the attempted suicide of his first wife, Lilly Texier, whom he abandoned for the singer Emma Bardac. However, his subsequent marriage to Bardac, and their daughter Claude-Emma, whom they called "Chouchou" and who became the dedicatee of the composer's Children's Corner piano suite, provided the middle-aged Debussy with great personal joys.
Debussy wrote successfully in most every genre, adapting his distinctive compositional language to the demands of each. His orchestral works, of which Prélude ŕ l'aprčs-midi d'un faune and La mer (The Sea, 1905) are most familiar, established him as a master of instrumental color and texture. It is this attention to tone color -- his layering of sound upon sound so that they blend to form a greater, evocative whole -- that linked Debussy in the public mind to the Impressionist painters.
His works for solo piano, particularly his collections of Préludes and Etudes, which have remained staples of the repertoire since their composition, bring into relief his assimilation of elements from both Eastern cultures and antiquity -- especially pentatonicism (the use of five-note scales), modality (the use of scales from ancient Greece and the medieval church), parallelism (the parallel movement of chords and lines), and the whole-tone scale (formed by dividing the octave into six equal intervals).
Pelléas et Mélisande and his collections of songs for solo voice establish the strength of his connection to French literature and poetry, especially the symbolist writers, and stand as some of the most understatedly expressive works in the repertory. The writings of Mallarmé, Maeterlinck, Baudelaire, and his childhood friend Paul Verlaine appear prominently among his chosen texts and joined symbiotically with the composer's own unique moods and forms of expression. Read less
Debussy: Orchestral Works Vol 7 / Thibaudet, Meyer, Markl, Lyon NO
Release Date: 11/15/2011   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572675   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Preludes;  Liszt / Jorge Federico Osorio
Release Date: 07/10/2007   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 98   Number of Discs: 2
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Debussy: Complete Orchestral Works / Jun Markl, Orchestre National De Lyon
Release Date: 02/28/2012   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8509002   Number of Discs: 9
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Debussy: Beau Soir - Preludes Book 2, Etc / Lewin [CD & Blu-ray Audio
Release Date: 01/28/2014   Label: Sono Luminus  
Catalog: 92175   Number of Discs: 2
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Starry Night - Debussy / Lewin
Release Date: 07/31/2015   Label: Sono Luminus  
Catalog: 92190   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Rêverie

Browse 1-25 of 120 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Encores / Nosbaum
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38236 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sergei Bortkiewicz,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Francis Poulenc  ... 
    Performer:  Romain Nosbaum
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  • 2.
    re:works - Piano
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002710502 Release Date: 09/01/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy,  Johann Pachelbel,  Yiruma  ... 
    Performer:  Cagedbaby,  Anders Bruk,  Lixo,  Vito Gatto  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 3.
    re:works - Piano [Vinyl]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: B002710601 Release Date: 09/01/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy,  Johann Pachelbel,  Yiruma  ... 
    Performer:  Anders Bruk,  Cagedbaby,  Lixo,  Vito Gatto  ... 
    LP: $37.49
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  • 4.
    Debussy: The Complete Piano Works / Gieseking
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563136 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking,  Geraint Jones
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  • 5.
    Liszt, Debussy & Beethoven: Piano Works / Jordan
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3518 Release Date: 02/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Krassimira Jordan
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  • 6.
    My First Classical Albums
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8509003 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Antonio Vivaldi,  John Adams  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Jénö Jandó,  Jürgen Schuster,  Idil Biret  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Halász,  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Marin Alsop,  Keith Clark  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Éder String Quartet,  Danubius String Quartet,  German Wind Soloists  ... 
    On sale! $49.99
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  • 7.
    Erik Satie & Friends
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875177492 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Erik Satie,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Francis Poulenc,  Pierre Bernac,  Arthur Gold,  Robert Fizdale  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Philippe Entremont,  Thomas Schippers,  Charles Gerhardt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 8.
    John Williams: The Complete Columbia Album Collection [58 CD + 1 DVD]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 309294 Release Date: 03/04/2016   Number of Discs: 59
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Isaac Albeniz,  Francisco Tarrega,  Joaquin Turina  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Julian Bream,  Carlos Bonell,  Brian Gascoigne  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Groves,  Daniel Barenboim,  John Williams,  Louis Frémaux  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  London Sinfonietta,  String Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $138.49
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  • 9.
    Debussy: Preludes, Premier Livre
    Label: Bongiovanni   Catalog: 5186 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Sandro Baldi
    CD: $17.99
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  • 10.
    Kathryn Stott: The Complete Solo Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875135622 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Liszt,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Kathryn Stott
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  • 11.
    Debussy: Piano Music, Vol. 4 /  Michael Korstick
    Label: Swr Music   Catalog: 93337 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michael Korstick
    CD: $18.99
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  • 12.
    Liebestraum: Romantic Piano Music
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94989 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Misha Goldstein
    CD: $11.99
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  • 13.
    Debussy: Violin Sonata, Cello Sonata, Piano Trio / Trio Stradivari
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94766 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jolanda Violante,  Federico Guglielmo,  Luigi Puxeddu
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Stradivari
    CD: $8.99
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  • 14.
    Debussy: Chamber Music
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250302 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jana Brozková,  Milan Polak,  Slavka Pechocova,  Václav Kunt  ... 
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  • 15.
    Debussy: Piano Suites / Martino Tirimo
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1221 Release Date: 02/04/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Martino Tirimo
    CD: $12.99
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  • 16.
    A New Age Of Classical Piano
    Label: Christopher Boscole   Catalog: 5638229295 Release Date: 01/01/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Boscole
    CD: $15.99
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  • 17.
    Classical Wellness: Musical Tonics For Mind, Body And Spirit
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3464 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Henri Vieuxtemps,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Wolseley Charles,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Dmitry Khakhamov,  Oleg Sergeev,  John Aler,  Grant Gershon  ... 
    Conductor:  Constantine Orbelian,  James DePreist,  Gerard Schwarz,  Anatoly Lapunov  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Russian Folk Ensemble Balalaika,  Style of Five,  Brazilian Guitar Quartet  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 18.
    Classical Chamomile
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1629 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Antonín Dvorák,  Alan Hovhaness,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Elmar Oliveira,  Douglas Davis,  Zuill Bailey,  Carol Rosenberger  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  David Wiley,  Constantine Orbelian,  Aldo Parisot
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shanghai Quartet,  Yale Cellos
    CD: $9.99
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  • 19.
    Lullaby & Nocturne / David Hays, Peter Collins
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1436 Release Date: 05/14/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Xaver Neruda,  Igor Stravinsky,  Sergei Lyapunov,  Fritz Kreisler  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Collins,  David Hays
    Recommendation
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  • 20.
    Masters Of The Modern Age I: Music From The Time Of Degas, Cezanne, And Van Gogh
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8503269 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Edouard Lalo,  César Franck,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Kliegel,  Michaël Levinas,  Arnaldo Cohen,  Hidenori Komatsu  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Halász,  Hervé Niquet,  Johannes Wildner,  Cord Garben  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quatuor Ludwig
    On sale! $25.99
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  • 21.
    Debussy: The Piano Works / Martino Tirimo
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 4002 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Martino Tirimo
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    CD: $21.99
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  • 22.
    Debussy: Complete Works for Piano / Bavouzet
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10743 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
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  • 23.
    Stillpoint / Adagio Trio
    Label: Adagio Trio   Catalog: 5637197395 Release Date: 07/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Traditional,  Joseph Hadar,  Abraham Kaplan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adagio Trio
    CD: $14.99
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  • 24.
    The Debussy Recordings / Samson Francois
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 38754 Release Date: 05/22/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Samson François
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 25.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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