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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 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
The Claude Debussy Collection
Release Date: 05/01/2012   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 193179   Number of Discs: 18
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Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande / Gilfry, Rey, Welser-Most
Release Date: 11/13/2012   Label: Arthaus Musik  
Catalog: 107285   Number of Discs: 2
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Ravel, Debussy / Pierre Boulez [6-CD Set]
Release Date: 05/08/2012   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 001676802   Number of Discs: 6
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Debussy: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4 / Markl, Orchestra National De Lyon
Release Date: 09/28/2010   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572297   Number of Discs: 1
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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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Work: La plus que lente

Browse 1-25 of 153 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Charles Rosen - The Complete Columbia and Epic Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301476 Release Date: 12/02/2014   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Charles Rosen,  Paul Jacobs,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Frederik Prausnitz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Masterpieces in Miniature / Tilson Thomas, San Francisco
    Label: San Francisco Symphony   Catalog: 60 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Charles Litolff,  Gustav Mahler,  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Yuja Wang
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Moderne
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908710 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Francis Poulenc,  Maurice Ravel,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Guihen Queyras,  Alexandre Tharaud,  Ronald Van Spaendonck,  Eric Le Sage  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrea Quinn
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  • 4.
    James Galway - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 302633 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Arthur Smith,  Various,  Traditional,  Stan Lebowsky  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Sylvia,  Marisa Robles,  Phillip Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Galway Pops Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Debussy: Complete Works for Solo Piano / Paul Crossley
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 930732 Release Date: 08/26/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paul Crossley
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  • 6.
    Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 3 / Micheael Korstick
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93319 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michael Korstick
    CD: $18.99
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  • 7.
    Debussy: Beau Soir - Preludes Book 2, Etc / Michael Lewin [CD & Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 92175 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michael Lewin
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  • 8.
    13 Valses / Aldo Ciccolini
    Label: La Dolce Volta   Catalog: 13 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Frédéric Chopin,  Gabriel Pierné,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini
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  • 9.
    Modern Times
    Label: Cd Accord   Catalog: 193 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karol Szymanowski,  Claude Debussy,  Fritz Kreisler,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Oldak,  James Baillieu
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  • 10.
    The Great French Pianists - The Original Piano Roll Recordings
    Label: Dal Segno   Catalog: 39 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
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  • 11.
    Les Sons et les Parfums - Debussy Meets Chopin / Perianes
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 902164 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Unspecified
    Performer:  Javier Perianes
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  • 12.
    The  Complete Homocord Recordings And Other Rarities
    Label: Apr (Appian)   Catalog: 6013 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking,  Lambros Callimahos,  Gustav Scheck
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  • 13.
    Debussy Plays Debussy, Ravel Plays Ravel
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002063 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
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  • 14.
    Debussy: Piano Works Vol 4 / Martino Tirimo
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1063 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Martino Tirimo
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  • 15.
    French Piano Music / Benjamin Moser
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 423 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Benjamin Moser
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  • 16.
    Debussy: Printemps, La Boite a Joujoux, Children's Corner / Dutoit
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 444386 Release Date: 01/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Pierre-Vincent Plante,  Ted Baskin,  James Earl Barnes
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    Debussy: Solo Piano Music / Angela Hewitt
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67898 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Angela Hewitt
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  • 19.
    Widmung / Sergei Nakariakov
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 2564659589 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Fritz Kreisler,  Jean-Baptiste ". Arban,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Sergei Nakariakov,  Maria Meerovitch
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  • 20.
    Live In Warsaw - Evgeni Bozhanov Plays Chopin, Schubert, Debussy, Scriabin, Liszt
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 12015 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Schubert,  Claude Debussy,  Alexander Scriabin  ... 
    Performer:  Evgeni Bozhanov
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  • 21.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Music / Gordon Fergus-Thompson
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94415 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gordon Fergus-Thompson
    CD: $24.99
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  • 22.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 23.
    Debussy Piano Edition [6-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001675602 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Alfons Kontarsky,  Aloys Kontarsky,  Anne Shasby  ... 
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kontarsky Duo,  Budapest Festival Orchestra
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  • 24.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Works / Walter Gieseking
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 55917 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking
    On sale! $42.98
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  • 25.
    Claire De Lune - Debussy Favorites
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001675502 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  James Earl Barnes,  Timothy Hutchins,  Vera Badings,  Zoltán Kocsis  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Bernard Haitink,  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
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