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: Pelleas et Melisande / Finley, Kozena, Rattle, London Symphony
Release Date: 10/06/2017   Label: Lso Live  
Catalog: 790   Number of Discs: 4
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Debussy: Pelléas Et Mélisande / Pierre Boulez
Release Date: 12/13/1991   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 47265   Number of Discs: 3
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Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 1 / Thiollier
Release Date: 09/19/1995   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8553290   Number of Discs: 1
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Songs Of Debussy And Fauré / Benita Valente, Lydia Artymiw
Release Date: 01/30/1996   Label: Centaur Records  
Catalog: 2220   Number of Discs: 1
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Claude Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande / Denise Duval; Michel Roux
Release Date: 03/31/2009   Label: Glyndebourne Festival Opera  
Catalog: 3-63   Number of Discs: 3
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Work: La plus que lente

Browse 51-75 of 141 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    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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  • 52.
    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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  • 53.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 46 - The Final Recital
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61777 Release Date: 05/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  César Franck,  Richard Strauss,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ernest Bloch  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Brooks Smith
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  • 54.
    Brailowsky Plays Virtuoso Showpieces
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 68165 Release Date: 02/11/2011   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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  • 55.
    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
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  • 56.
    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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  • 57.
    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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  • 58.
    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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  • 59.
    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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  • 60.
    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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  • 61.
    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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  • 62.
    Debussy: Pour le piano, Children's Corner / Jean-Bernard Pommier
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 99471 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Bernard Pommier
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  • 63.
    Flute Adagios
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001280202 Release Date: 04/14/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Albert Roussel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Jacques Ibert,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Grandt,  Irena Grafenauer,  William Bennett,  Timothy Hutchins  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Benjamin Britten,  Karl Münchinger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grumiaux Trio,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 64.
    The Welte-mignon Mystery, Vol. 12 - Debussy, Ravel
    Label: Tacet   Catalog: 166 Release Date: 03/15/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
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  • 65.
    Stephen Hough In Recital
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67686 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  Emmanuel Chabrier  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Hough
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  • 66.
    Salut d'amour / Anne Akiko Meyers, Sandra Rivers
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 62546 Release Date: 02/11/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Flausino R. do Vale,  Manuel de Falla,  Kosaku Yamada,  Rentauro Taki  ... 
    Performer:  Sandra Rivers,  Anne Akiko Meyers
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  • 67.
    Hungarian Dances / Philippe Graffin, Claire Désert
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4039 Release Date: 12/09/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernö von Dohnányi,  Fritz Kreisler,  Vittorio Monti,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Philippe Graffin,  Claire Désert,  Hebe Mensinga,  Szymon Marciniak  ... 
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  • 68.
    Debussy, Poulenc: Cello Sonatas / Jean-guihen Queyras, Alexandre Tharaud
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 902012 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Alexandre Tharaud,  Jean-Guihen Queyras
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  • 69.
    Romantic Treasures For Violin And Piano - Dvorak, Strauss, Debussy, Saint-saëns / Schwartz, Chien
    Label: Roméo Records   Catalog: 7263 Release Date: 09/30/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Antonín Dvorák,  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Sergiu Schwartz,  Alec Chien
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  • 70.
    Debussy: Complete Works For Piano Vol 3 / Bavouzet
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10467 Release Date: 05/27/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
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  • 71.
    Label: Dal Segno   Catalog: 24 Release Date: 05/27/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Claude Debussy,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
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  • 72.
    The French Recital / James Galway, Christopher O'Riley
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 68351 Release Date: 02/26/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Charles-Marie Widor,  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  James Galway,  Christopher O'Riley
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  • 73.
    Piano Essentials - The World's Greatest Piano Music
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 17683 Release Date: 02/05/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Michel Béroff
    Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 74.
    Romantic Piano: Classical Music For Intimate Moments
    Label: Radiance Records   Catalog: 17681 Release Date: 01/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Claude Debussy,  Johannes Brahms,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Dalberto,  Michel Béroff,  Valery Afanassiev,  Yuji Takahashi  ... 
    Conductor:  Eliahu Inbal
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  • 75.
    Debussy: Complete Works For Solo Piano Vol 2 / Paul Crossley
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 53111 Release Date: 01/11/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paul Crossley
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