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 à l'après-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 à l'après-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, Ravel: Music for Two Pianos / Ashkenazys
Release Date: 08/25/2009   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 001312902   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Favorite Piano Works / Tamás Vásáry
Release Date: 10/14/2003   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 000125602   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy & Ravel On The Organ / Gunnar Idenstam
Release Date: 07/08/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2049   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: The Solo Piano Works / Noriko Ogawa
Release Date: 01/31/2012   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1955   Number of Discs: 6
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Schumann: Symphony No 4; Debussy: Le Martyre De St. Sebastien Suite / Cantelli
Release Date: 09/25/2012   Label: Ica Classics  
Catalog: 5081   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Rêverie

Browse 51-75 of 155 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Harold Bauer - The Complete Recordings
    Label: Apr (Appian)   Catalog: 7302 Release Date: 04/14/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Franz Liszt,  Robert Schumann,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Harold Bauer
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  • 52.
    Debussy: Images, 2 Arabesques, Etc / Zoltán Kocsis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422404 Release Date: 08/05/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoltán Kocsis
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  • 53.
    Debussy: Complete Works For Piano Vol 3 / Bavouzet
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10467 Release Date: 05/27/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
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  • 54.
    Label: Pavane Records   Catalog: ADW7520 Release Date: 03/25/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Stéphane De May,  Damien Pardoen,  Luc Tooten
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  • 55.
    Xavier De Maistre - Nuit D'etoiles
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 7222492 Release Date: 03/10/2008  
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Xavier De Maistre,  Diana Damrau
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  • 56.
    Dreams: Classical Music For A Good Night's Sleep
    Label: Radiance Records   Catalog: 17682 Release Date: 01/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Franz Schubert,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Shin-ichi Fukuda,  Ayako Shinozaki,  Valery Afanassiev  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Groves,  Hans Stadlmair,  Jun'ichi Hirokami
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lunaire Ensemble
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  • 57.
    Debussy: Integrale Piano Inachevee / Samson Francois
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 575434 Release Date: 01/13/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Samson François
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  • 58.
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 7331 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Lamar Burkhalter,  George Hamilton Green,  David J. Long  ... 
    Conductor:  Jerriald Dillard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oak Ridge High School Percussion Ensemble
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  • 59.
    Debussy: Suite Bergamasque, Etc / Martino Tirimo
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1311217 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Martino Tirimo
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  • 60.
    Debussy 1: Estampes, Images 1 & 2, Etc / Aldo Ciccolini
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54447 Release Date: 12/10/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini
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  • 61.
    Smetana: Polkas And Dances; Debussy / Rudolf Firkusny
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 66069 Release Date: 10/31/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Bedrich Smetana
    Performer:  Rudolf Firkusny
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  • 62.
    The Ultimate Most Relaxing Debussy In The Universe
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 17700 Release Date: 08/21/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Chee-Yun,  Chee-Yun,  Susanna Mildonian  ... 
    Conductor:  Emmanuel Krivine
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  • 63.
    Impressions
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4766088 Release Date: 04/21/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Manuel de Falla,  Federico Mompou
    Performer:  Leonard Grigoryan,  Slava Grigoryan
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  • 64.
    Derbussy: Complete Works For Solo Piano
    Label: Simax   Catalog: 1297 Release Date: 03/19/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Haakon Austbö
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  • 65.
    Best Piano Classics 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 70886 Release Date: 08/29/2006   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini,  John Ogdon,  Stanislav Bunin,  Moura Lympany  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Simon Rattle,  Riccardo Muti,  George Szell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borodin String Quartet members,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 66.
    Peaceful Adagios
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000703002 Release Date: 07/04/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Erik Satie,  Maurice Ravel,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Lucia Popp,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Pascal Rogé,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Sir Colin Davis,  Charles Dutoit  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 67.
    Collectors Edition - Debussy: Piano Music;  Ravel / Kocsis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000623702 Release Date: 04/11/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoltán Kocsis
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
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  • 68.
    Liebestraum / Misha Goldstein
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 99382 Release Date: 04/04/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Claude Debussy,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Misha Goldstein
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  • 69.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Music Vol 1 / Bennett Lerner
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9186 Release Date: 03/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Bennett Lerner
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  • 70.
    Live In Recital
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637447030 Release Date: 01/01/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Aram Khachaturian,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Thies
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  • 71.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Works / Jean-pierre Armengaud
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47840 Release Date: 12/27/2005   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Armengaud
    On sale! $61.98
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  • 72.
    The Most Relaxing Harp Album In The World...ever!
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 33588 Release Date: 10/04/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Alphonse Hasselmans  ... 
    Performer:  Nancy Allen,  Mariko Anraku,  Markus Klinko,  Julia Thornton  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  Erno Olah,  Louis Auriacombe,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra,  Netherlands National Radio Orchestra,  Toulouse Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 73.
    Aldo Ciccolini - Homage To Debussy
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4353 Release Date: 08/09/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini
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  • 74.
    Ravel, Debussy / Nancy Allen, Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 76978 Release Date: 07/19/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Ransom Wilson,  Nancy Allen,  David Shifrin
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet,  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
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  • 75.
    An Old View / Horacio Nuguid
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637418644 Release Date: 07/12/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Enrique Granados,  Rodolfo Cornejo  ... 
    Performer:  Horacio Nuguid
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