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
Stravinsky: Petrushka - Debussy: La boite a joujoux / Morlot, Seattle Symphony
Release Date: 06/10/2016   Label: Seattle Symphony Orchestra  
Catalog: 1010   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin, Debussy, Corghi: Cello Sonatas / Chiesa, Baglini
Release Date: 04/28/2009   Label: Concerto  
Catalog: 2035   Number of Discs: 1
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Michelangeli Plays Debussy
Release Date: 03/21/2006   Label: Opus Arte  
Catalog: 941   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: Image, La mer, Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune / Bernstein
Release Date: 03/30/2010   Label: C Major  
Catalog: 701608   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: La plus que lente

Browse 1-25 of 127 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Purple Classics Presents: Timeless Piano Favorites
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578324-25 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Maurice Ravel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Balázs Szokolay,  Jenö Jandó,  François-Joël Thiollier,  Idil Biret
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  • 2.
    Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 1 / Lee
    Label: Icsm   Catalog: 80060 Release Date: 04/01/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Dennis Lee
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 3.
    Decca Sound – Dutoit: The Montreal Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002449102 Release Date: 02/19/2016   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ernest Chausson,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Timothy Hutchins,  Beverly Hoch,  Stanford Olsen  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
    CD: $117.99
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  • 4.
    Bits And Pieces
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552365 Release Date: 11/20/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Alex de Taeye,  Fritz Kreisler  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Sanders,  Itzhak Perlman
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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    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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  • 7.
    Itzhak Perlman: The Complete Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552439 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 77
    Composer:  Niccolň Paganini,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Ray Still,  Samuel Sanders  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Foster,  Daniel Barenboim,  Itzhak Perlman,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    Maestro Vladimir Spivakov: Anniversary Edition
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002300 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Rodion Shchedrin,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Spivakov,  Marina Gusak-Grin,  Larisa [Mezzo-Soprano Vocal] Pyatigorskaya,  Jorge [Tenor Vocal] Anton  ... 
    Conductor:  Yuri Temirkanov,  Vladimir Spivakov
    CD: $54.49
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  • 9.
    Jascha Heifetz: Favorite Recital Pieces & Encores
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88875051042 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Howard Ferguson,  Karen Khachaturian,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Brooks Smith
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  • 10.
    Clarinet Lollipops
    Label: Continuum   Catalog: 1080 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Kurt Weill,  Fritz Kreisler,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Murray Khouri
    Conductor:  Paul Terracini
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  • 11.
    111 - The Piano - Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002281002 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Géza Anda,  Martha Argerich,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 12.
    Masterpieces in Miniature / 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 T. Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    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:  Alexandre Tharaud,  Jean-Guihen Queyras,  Ronald Van Spaendonck,  Eric Le Sage  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrea Quinn
    CD: $48.99
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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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
    CD: $23.99
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  • 18.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    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
    CD: $19.99
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  • 22.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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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