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

Ravel, Debussy & Massenet / Bavouzet, Tortelier, BBC Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 11/16/2010   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5084   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: String Quartet, Piano Trio, Deux Danses / Brodsky Quartet
Release Date: 04/24/2012   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10717   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Orchestral Works / Deneve, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Release Date: 05/29/2012   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5102   Number of Discs: 2
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Debussy: Complete Works for Piano / Bavouzet
Release Date: 10/30/2012   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10743   Number of Discs: 5
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Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande / Elder, Dean, Hannon, Tomlinson, Walker
Release Date: 01/31/2012   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 3177   Number of Discs: 3
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Work: La plus que lente

Browse 101-125 of 154 Available Recordings
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  • 101.
    Debussy: Piano Music Vol 2 / Noriko Ogawa
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1205 Release Date: 02/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Noriko Ogawa
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  • 102.
    Tęte Ŕ Tęte - Debussy: Preludes, Estampes, Etc / Noël Lee
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 1001 Release Date: 10/08/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Noel Lee
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  • 103.
    Essential Debussy - 26 Of His Greatest Masterpieces
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 472404 Release Date: 07/16/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Doriot Dwyer,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Alexis Weissenberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Herbert von Karajan,  Charles Dutoit,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 104.
    Masters Of The Bow - Violin / Accardo, Bell, Grumiaux, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 472207 Release Date: 03/19/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Grigoras Dinicu,  Enrique Granados,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Charles Reiner,  Henryk Szeryng,  Jean-Claude Ambrosini,  Christian Ferras  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Claudio Abbado,  Zubin Mehta  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 105.
    Morceaux Intimes - Debussy, Faure, Ravel, Et Al / Mobius
    Label: Meridian Records   Catalog: 84440 Release Date: 03/05/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Maurice Ravel,  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Lorna McGee,  Ashan Pillai,  Alison Nicholls
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mobius
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  • 106.
    Faure, Debussy: Violin Sonatas, Etc / Tomasow, Holetschek
    Label: Vanguard   Catalog: 7017 Release Date: 11/06/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  Franz Holetschek,  Jan Tomasow
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  • 107.
    Music Of Tribute Vol 2 - Debussy / Dokovska, Barbosa-lima
    Label: Labor Records   Catalog: 7032 Release Date: 10/30/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy,  Manuel de Falla,  Albert Roussel  ... 
    Performer:  Pavlina Dokovska,  Ludmilla Gerova,  Carlos Barbosa-Lima,  Anatol Kristev  ... 
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  • 108.
    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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  • 109.
    Night Music 8 - Classical Favourites For Relaxing
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8556608 Release Date: 09/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Georg Philipp Telemann  ... 
    Performer:  Wolf Harden,  Takako Nishizaki,  Alexander Jablokov,  Quido Hölbling  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger,  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Barry Wordsworth,  István Bogár  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kodály String Quartet,  Capella Istropolitana,  Kosice Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 110.
    Debussy - Greatest Hits
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 63803 Release Date: 08/07/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Kathryn Stott,  Catherine Collard,  James Galway,  Michel Dalberto
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  James Galway
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Guarneri String Quartet,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
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  • 111.
    Rubinstein Collection Vol 80 - Recital For Israel
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63080 Release Date: 08/07/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein
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  • 112.
    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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  • 113.
    Westwind Brass And Friends
    Label: Eroica Classical Recordings   Catalog: 3054 Release Date: 05/08/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thelonious Monk,  Claude Debussy,  Otto Nicolai,  Charles Knox  ... 
    Performer:  Barry Perkins,  Vance Woolf,  Brent Dutton,  Barry Toombs  ... 
    Conductor:  Emory Emrich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westwind Brass
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  • 114.
    Scene  600 Years - Music From Six Centuries / Calefax Reed
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog: 6191043 Release Date: 03/27/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francesco Bendusi,  Johannes Ockeghem,  Anonymous,  William Byrd  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Calefax Reed Quintet
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  • 115.
    Rubinstein Collection Vol 30 - Franck, Debussy, Etc
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63030 Release Date: 01/09/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Enrique Granados,  Claude Debussy,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein
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  • 116.
    Live Recital No 1 / Harold Wright
    Label: Boston Records   Catalog: 1023 Release Date: 01/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Witold Lutoslawski,  Francis Poulenc,  Bohuslav Martinu,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Luis Batlle,  Harold Wright
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  • 117.
    Harvey Aurandt, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy / Robert Hamilton
    Label: Summit Records   Catalog: 278 Release Date: 11/21/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Paul Harvey Aurandt
    Performer:  Robert Hamilton
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  • 118.
    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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  • 119.
    Claude Debussy - The Composer As Pianist
    Label: Pierian   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 09/26/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Mary Garden,  Claude Debussy
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  • 120.
    Rubinstein Collection Vol 43 - Music Of France
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63043 Release Date: 08/08/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Gabriel Fauré,  Francis Poulenc  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein
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  • 121.
    Debussy:  Syrinx; Ravel, Prokofiev /Pahud, Kovacevich, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 5569822 Release Date: 06/06/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Stephen Kovacevich,  Emmanuel Pahud,  Truls Otterbech Mork,  Katarina Karnéus
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  • 122.
    Debussy: Images, Études / Jean-yves Thibaudet
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460247 Release Date: 05/09/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet
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  • 123.
    Debussy Arranged For Ten-stringed Guitar / Anders Miolin
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 986 Release Date: 04/15/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Anders Miolin
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  • 124.
    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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  • 125.
    Label: Michele   Catalog: 9004 Release Date: 10/12/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Georges Bizet,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Dubravka Tomsic
    Conductor:  Anton Nanut,  Barry Faldner,  Marko Munih
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