Claude Debussy


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

Work: Rêverie

Browse 76-100 of 117 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Debussy, Honegger, Fauré / Kate Dillingham, Blair Mcmillen
    Label: Connoisseur Society   Catalog: 4245 Release Date: 10/28/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Arthur Honegger,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Blair McMillen,  Kate Dillingham
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  • 77.
    Debussy - Greatest Hits
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000069302 Release Date: 08/12/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli,  Pascal Rogé,  Julian Lloyd Webber
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Pierre Boulez,  Ernest Ansermet,  John T. Williams  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
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  • 78.
    For Your Life - For Book Lovers
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000063612 Release Date: 07/01/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Sir William Walton,  Ron Nelson,  Aaron Copland  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Cooper,  Julian Lloyd Webber
    Conductor:  Andrew Litton,  Howard Hanson,  Zubin Mehta,  Jerold Ottley  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,  Eastman-Rochester Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 79.
    Reveries / Eiji Oue, Minnesota Orchestra
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 99 Release Date: 08/06/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Jean Sibelius,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Marni J. Hougham,  Adam Kuenzel,  Anthony Ross
    Conductor:  Eiji Oue
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 80.
    Piano Dreams - Chopin, Debussy, Schumann, Liszt / Zizzo
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1053 Release Date: 11/27/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Robert Schumann,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Alicia Zizzo
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  • 81.
    French Music For Harp And Strings - Ravel, Et Al / Bodtker
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8555328 Release Date: 09/18/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Pierné,  Jacques Ibert,  Erik Satie,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Ellen Sejersted Bodtker,  Per Flemström,  Fredrik Fors,  Sjur Bjaerke
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  • 82.
    Debussy: Estampes / Kyoko Tabe
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9912 Release Date: 06/26/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Kyoko Tabe
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  • 83.
    Baby Needs Lullabys / Carol Rosenberger
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1619 Release Date: 05/29/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Dmitri Kabalevsky,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Carol Rosenberger
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  • 84.
    Elegie - Werke Für Zwei Guitaren / Duo Bergerac, Et Al
    Label: Thorofon   Catalog: 2438 Release Date: 01/23/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Yves Daniel-Lesur,  Jaime Zenamon,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Pedro Delgado  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Ernst,  Karin Scholz,  Maxine Neuman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Bergerac
    CD: $22.49
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  • 85.
    Painting The Mood - Debussy, Ravel, Et Al / Morton Estrin
    Label: Connoisseur Society   Catalog: 4237 Release Date: 11/21/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernesto Lecuona,  Manuel de Falla,  Enrique Granados,  Gustav Lange  ... 
    Performer:  Morton Estrin
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  • 86.
    Debussy: 2 Arabesques, Ręverie, Etc / David Allen Wehr
    Label: Connoisseur Society   Catalog: 4219 Release Date: 10/27/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  David Allen Wehr
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  • 87.
    Adagios For After Hours - The Relaxing Way To End Your Day
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 468066 Release Date: 10/10/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Pietro Mascagni,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz Holliger,  Mitsuko Uchida,  Claudio Arrau,  Karl Leister  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Paray,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Ernest Ansermet,  Tullio Serafin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
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  • 88.
    Tomita - Snowflakes Are Dancing
    Label: Rca Red Seal Hp   Catalog: 63588 Release Date: 01/11/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Isao Tomita
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  • 89.
    My Favorite Debussy - Van Cliburn
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63567 Release Date: 11/09/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Van Cliburn
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  • 90.
    Cocktail Classics / Mcdonald, Zukerman, Vogel, Et Al
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1611 Release Date: 08/03/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elias Parish Alvars,  Traditional,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Susann McDonald,  Carol Rosenberger,  János Starker,  Shigeo Neriki  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arden Trio,  Brazilian Guitar Quartet
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  • 91.
    Julian Lloyd Webber - Cello Moods
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 462588 Release Date: 05/11/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luigi Boccherini,  Joseph Rheinberger,  Alexander Glazunov,  Max Bruch  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Lloyd Webber,  Jayson Mariano Kouchak
    Conductor:  James Judd,  Barry Wordsworth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  BBC Concert Orchestra
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  • 92.
    Ultrasound - Music For The Unborn Child
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63457 Release Date: 04/13/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Alexander Brailowsky,  James Galway,  Marisa Robles,  Gerhard Oppitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Spivakov,  Arthur Fiedler,  James Galway,  Charles Gerhardt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra,  Boston Pops,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe  ... 
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  • 93.
    Fantastic Favorites / Jeffrey Reid Baker
    Label: Jrb   Catalog: 9004 Release Date: 03/02/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Robert Schumann,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Jeffrey Reid Baker
    CD: $16.99
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  • 94.
    Timeless Kiss - The Best Romantic Piano Music
    Label: Four Winds   Catalog: 3007 Release Date: 08/25/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Franz Schubert,  Claude Debussy,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  John Novacek,  Joseph Paratore,  Anthony Paratore,  Daniel Pollack
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  • 95.
    Classic Piano Favorites / David Watkins
    Label: Aca Digital   Catalog: 20059 Release Date: 12/16/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  David Watkins
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  • 96.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Music / Martin Jones
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 1773 Release Date: 10/07/1997   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Martin Jones
    CD: $29.99
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  • 97.
    Reflections In The Water / Carol Rosenberger
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3190 Release Date: 08/22/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Charles Tomlinson Griffes,  Enrique Granados,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Carol Rosenberger
    CD: $24.99
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  • 98.
    Debussy: Preludes, Piano Works / Jean-Yves Thibaudet
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 452022 Release Date: 08/13/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet
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  • 99.
    Romance Classics
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1602 Release Date: 07/16/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Richard Strauss,  Ernö von Dohnányi  ... 
    Performer:  Jian Wang,  Carol Rosenberger,  János Starker,  Hu Nai-Yuan  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  Zdenek Macal
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  New Jersey Symphony Orchestra,  Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 100.
    Pastorale / Flute Force, Julius Baker
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1133 Release Date: 06/18/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Claude Debussy,  Anton Reicha,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Julius Baker,  Gretchen Pusch,  Rie Schmidt,  Wendy Stern  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Flute Force
    CD: $15.99
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