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: Arabesques, Clair de Lune, Golliwogg's Cakewalk / Ronan O'Hora
Release Date: 06/14/2011   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 29040   Number of Discs: 1
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Gershwin, Ravel, Debussy / O'Riley, Wordsworth, Royal PO
Release Date: 08/11/2009   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28050   Number of Discs: 1
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Les Amis - Debussy, Caplet / Elizabeth Hainen
Release Date: 11/12/2013   Label: Avie  
Catalog: 2285   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: 12 Etudes / Mitsuko Uchida
Release Date: 07/04/2006   Label: Philips  
Catalog: 000701102   Number of Discs: 1
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Works For Clarinet And Orchestra By Rossini, Busoni, Debussy, Nielsen / Benda
Release Date: 01/01/2008   Label: Genuin Musikproduction  
Catalog: 88128   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Rêverie

Browse 76-100 of 152 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    New Horizons - Music From France And Spain / Walton, Et Al
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 42 Release Date: 04/26/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaspar Cassadó,  Claude Debussy,  Manuel de Falla,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Grimwood,  Jamie Walton
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  • 77.
    Walter Gieseking - Piano
    Label: Andante   Catalog: 2090 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking
    Conductor:  Hans Rosbaud,  Willem Mengelberg,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Bruno Walter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra members,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 78.
    Be Mine - The Ultimate Romance Album
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000386402 Release Date: 01/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Frederick Delius,  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Lloyd Webber,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Henryk Szeryng,  Marie Goossens  ... 
    Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth,  Benjamin Britten,  Ernest Ansermet,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
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  • 79.
    For The Hopeless Romantic
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000387702 Release Date: 01/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Edvard Grieg,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Raymond Leppard,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Heinz Holliger,  Julian Lloyd Webber  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard,  Neeme Järvi,  Ernest Ansermet,  Iona Brown  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 80.
    Radiance - Classics To Unwind - Relaxing Favorites
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 17462 Release Date: 01/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Girolamo Frescobaldi  ... 
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  • 81.
    Debussy: Images, 2 Arabesques, Etc / Zoltán Kocsis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000338202 Release Date: 10/12/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoltán Kocsis
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  • 82.
    After a Dream / Monroe, Masi-Fletcher
    Label: Erv Monroe/Patty Masri-fletcher   Catalog: 5637426978 Release Date: 08/10/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Salvatore Rosa,  Jules Massenet,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Patty Masri-Fletcher,  Erv Monroe
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  • 83.
    Debussy: Clair De Lune And Other Piano Favorites / Thiollier
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8555800 Release Date: 05/18/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier
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  • 84.
    Cello Adagios
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000233402 Release Date: 05/11/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Luigi Boccherini,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Alexander Borodin,  Alexander Glazunov  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Lloyd Webber,  Bruno Canino,  Lynn Harrell,  John Lenehan  ... 
    Conductor:  James Judd,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Antal Doráti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 85.
    Debussy - Super Hits
    Label: Sony Classical   Catalog: 92386 Release Date: 05/04/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paul Grossley
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 86.
    For Your Life - For Yoga / Dutoit, Marriner, Ozawa, Previn
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000221512 Release Date: 04/13/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonín Dvorák,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Alessandro Marcello  ... 
    Performer:  Raymond Leppard,  Heinz Holliger,  Julian Lloyd Webber,  Jascha Silberstein  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard,  Sir Neville Marriner,  André Previn,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 87.
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 17343 Release Date: 03/23/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Rentarô Taki,  Kosaku Yamada,  Haseo Sugiyama,  Tadashi Yanada  ... 
    Performer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy,  Honegger
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  • 88.
    Debussy: Piano Works Vol 3 / Jean-pierre Armengaud
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47578 Release Date: 01/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Armengaud
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  • 89.
    For Your Life - For Your Baby
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000180612 Release Date: 01/13/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Leopold Mozart,  Stephen Foster,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Lucia Popp,  Anny Schlemm,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Norma Burrowes  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Karl Münchinger,  Carl Davis,  André Previn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 90.
    Debussy's Harp / Yolanda Kondonassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80622 Release Date: 11/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis
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  • 91.
    Musique & Art Nouveau - Ravel, Debussy, Et Al / Ariagno
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47672 Release Date: 11/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacques Ibert,  Francis Poulenc,  Germaine Tailleferre,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Cristina Ariagno
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  • 92.
    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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  • 93.
    Masters Of The Piano Roll - Debussy Plays Debussy
    Label: Dal Segno   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 09/30/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking,  Carol Robinson,  Leff Pouishnov,  Richard Buhlig  ... 
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  • 94.
    Debussy: Piano Music Vol 4 - The Youthful Debussy / Howat
    Label: Tall Poppies   Catalog: 165 Release Date: 08/26/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Roy Howat
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  • 95.
    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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  • 96.
    The #1 Adagios Album
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000082402 Release Date: 08/12/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Maurice Ravel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Alessandro Marcello  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Teresa Garatti,  Irena Grafenauer,  Maria Graf,  Heinz Holliger  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Sir Neville Marriner,  James Judd,  Seiji Ozawa  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 97.
    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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  • 98.
    Piano - The Most Beautiful Melodies
    Label: Reference Gold   Catalog: 4894 Release Date: 01/28/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Serkin,  Ronan O'Hora,  Andy Vinter,  Raymond Spasovski  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Shaw,  Carl Davis,  Jonathan Carney,  Joseph Silverstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Utah Symphony Orchestra
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  • 99.
    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
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  • 100.
    Debussy: Piano Works / Werner Haas
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4681932 Release Date: 05/13/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Werner Haas
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