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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
Debussy: Images, Preludes Book 2 / Hamelin
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67920   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Songs, Vol. 3 / Mcgovern, France, Martineau
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 68016   Number of Discs: 1
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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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Debussy:  La Mer, Images, Prelude A L’apres-midi D’un Faune / Shui, Singapore Symphony
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1837   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Songs, Vol. 2 / Anderson, Milne, Martineau
Release Date: 04/10/2012   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67883   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: La plus que lente

Browse 26-50 of 153 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 27.
    Famous Flute Miniatures / Grzegorz Olkiewicz, Waldemar Malicki
    Label: Dux Records   Catalog: 829 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Stanislaw Moniuszko,  Krzysztof Penderecki,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Grzegorz Olkiewicz,  Waldemar Malick
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  • 28.
    Hommage A Debussy Vol 1 - Works For Piano / Juliana Steinbach
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 12226 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Juliana Steinbach
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  • 29.
    Debussy: Complete Works For Piano
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 4010 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
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  • 30.
    Icon - Alexis Weissenberg: The Champagne Pianist
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6790862 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Herbert von Karajan,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de Paris,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
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  • 31.
    Debussy: Complete Orchestral Works / Jun Markl, Orchestre National De Lyon
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8509002 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Paul Meyer,  Alexandre Doisy,  Emmanuel Ceysson
    Conductor:  Jun Märkl
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra,  Leipzig Radio Chorus
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  • 32.
    Debussy: The Solo Piano Works / Noriko Ogawa
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1955 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Noriko Ogawa
    Conductor:  Lan Shui
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Singapore Symphony Orchestra
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  • 33.
    Icon - Young Genius Of The Violin / Michael Rabin
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6790602 Release Date: 01/10/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Niccolò Paganini,  Henri Wieniawski,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Rabin,  Leon Pommers
    Conductor:  Lovro von Matacic,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Alceo Galliera  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
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  • 34.
    Josef Suk - Early Recordings
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4075 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Josef Suk,  Leos Janácek,  Bedrich Smetana  ... 
    Performer:  Josef Suk,  Jan Panenka,  Josef Hála,  André Navarra  ... 
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  • 35.
    Michael Rabin -  Studio Recordings 1954-1960
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1471 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Niccolò Paganini,  Alexander Glazunov,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Rabin,  Leon Pommers
    Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Lovro von Matacic,  Alceo Galliera,  Felix Slatkin  ... 
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  • 36.
    Beethoven Invents Jazz
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0709232 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Claude Debussy,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Truls Otterbech Mork,  Juhani Lagerspetz,  Jean-Bernard Pommier,  Michael Collins  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Simon Rattle,  Alberto Zedda,  Wayne Marshall  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
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  • 37.
    Debussy: Oeuvres Pour Piano / Albert Ferber
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 0833802 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Albert Ferber
    CD: $27.49
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  • 38.
    Tresors Ensevelis: Martin Chalifour In Walt Disney Concert Hall
    Label: Yarlung Records   Catalog: 94004 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Martin Chalifour,  Joanne Pearce Martin,  Maia Jasper,  Bryan Pezzone
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  • 39.
    Martha Argerich Edition - Chamber Music
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 94014 Release Date: 06/07/2011   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  César Franck,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Itzhak Perlman,  Mischa Maisky,  Lucia Hall  ... 
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  • 40.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 46 - The Final Recital
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61777 Release Date: 05/26/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  César Franck,  Richard Strauss,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ernest Bloch  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Brooks Smith
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  • 41.
    Debussy: Complete Solo Piano Music / Larissa Dedova
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3094/7 Release Date: 05/24/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Larissa Dedova
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  • 42.
    Brailowsky Plays Virtuoso Showpieces
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 68165 Release Date: 02/14/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Franz Liszt,  Sergei Lyapunov  ... 
    Performer:  Alexander Brailowsky
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 43.
    The Infinite Trumpet
    Label: Kinnell House Records   Catalog: 88200028 Release Date: 08/05/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Fritz Kreisler,  Riccardo Drigo  ... 
    Performer:  Malcolm McNab
    CD: $31.99
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  • 44.
    Salut D'amour & Other Songs Of Love
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637638134 Release Date: 06/25/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Robert Schumann,  André Caplet,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Julie Scolnik,  Sophie Scolnik-Brower
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  • 45.
    Debussy: Images / Markl, Lyon NO
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572296 Release Date: 03/30/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Jun Märkl
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
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  • 46.
    Easy Listening Piano Classics - Debussy And Ravel
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578077-78 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier,  Yin Cheng-Zong
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  • 47.
    A Portrait Of Tamas Vasary
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 93900 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Tamás Vásáry
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  • 48.
    Beau Soir - Katherine Mclin, Andrew Campbell
    Label: Summit Records   Catalog: 533 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Françaix,  Lili Boulanger,  Gabriel Pierné,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Andrew Campbell,  Katherine McLin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  McLin Campbell Duo
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  • 49.
    The Essential Arthur Rubinstein
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 742461 Release Date: 10/06/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Pierre Fournier,  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Alfred Wallenstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra of London,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Symphony of the Air
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  • 50.
    Walter Gieseking Plays Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy, Ravel & Bach
    Label: Medici Masters   Catalog: 17-2 Release Date: 08/25/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking
    Conductor:  Günter Wand,  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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