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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 76-100 of 153 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Claudio Arrau - The Final Sessions
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000725602 Release Date: 11/14/2006   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Claude Debussy,  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau
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  • 77.
    All The Sax You've Ever Dreamed Of / West Coast Sax Quartet
    Label: Cambria   Catalog: 1045 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy,  Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  West Coast Saxophone Quartet
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  • 78.
    An Introduction To Claude Debussy
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 2024 Release Date: 09/19/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  André Caplet,  Colin Fleming,  Derek Bell
    Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
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  • 79.
    The Very Best Of Debussy
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8552127 Release Date: 04/25/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Pascal Devoyon,  Dong-Suk Kang,  François-Joël Thiollier,  Sjur Bjaerke  ... 
    Conductor:  Leif Segerstam,  Alexander Rahbari,  Jean-Claude Casadesus
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vertavo String Quartet,  Brussels Belgian Radio & TV Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 80.
    Collectors Edition - Debussy: Piano Music;  Ravel / Kocsis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000623702 Release Date: 04/11/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoltán Kocsis
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
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  • 81.
    Romantic Interpretations - Alla Nikitskaya
    Label: New England Records   Catalog: 3290 Release Date: 03/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Alla Nikitskaya
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  • 82.
    Gemini - Violin Encores / Itzhak Perlman
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 76957 Release Date: 02/21/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Maurice Ravel,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Ernesto Halffter  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Sanders,  Itzhak Perlman
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  • 83.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Works / Jean-pierre Armengaud
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47840 Release Date: 12/27/2005   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Armengaud
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  • 84.
    Debussy: Orchestral Works / Martinon, Ciccolini, Et Al
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 92765 Release Date: 11/29/2005   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Marie Londeix,  Guy Dangain,  John Leach,  Aldo Ciccolini
    Conductor:  Jean Martinon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
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  • 85.
    Original Masters - Reginald Kell - American Decca Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000480602 Release Date: 09/13/2005   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Fritz Kreisler,  Arthur Benjamin,  Benjamin Godard  ... 
    Performer:  Joel Rosen,  Reginald Kell,  Brooks Smith,  Melvin Ritter  ... 
    Conductor:  Salvador Camarata,  Reginald Kell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camarata & His Orchestra,  Fine Arts String Quartet,  Kell Chamber Players  ... 
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  • 86.
    Aldo Ciccolini - Homage To Debussy
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4353 Release Date: 08/09/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini
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  • 87.
    Label: Clarinet Classics   Catalog: 10049 Release Date: 05/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Walter Mourant,  Clarence Raybould,  Fritz Kreisler,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Reginald Kell,  Leon Goossens
    Conductor:  L. Bridgewater
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Acetate,  Reginald Kell & His Quiet Music
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  • 88.
    Chill With Debussy
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8556788 Release Date: 09/21/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier,  Ellen Sejersted Bodtker,  Berit Cardas
    Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra,  Kodály String Quartet,  Vertavo String Quartet
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  • 89.
    Debussy: Clair De Lune And Other Piano Favorites / Thiollier
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8555800 Release Date: 05/18/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier
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  • 90.
    Debussy - Orchestral Works / Dutoit, Ansermet, Chailly, Etc
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000213002 Release Date: 04/13/2004   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Robert Gugoltz,  Vera Badings,  James Earl Barnes,  Pierre-Vincent Plante  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Ernest Ansermet,  Bernard Haitink,  Charles Dutoit  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 91.
    Debussy: Suite Bergamasque, Etc / Walter Gieseking
    Label: Emi Great Artists Of The Century   Catalog: 62800 Release Date: 03/23/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking
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  • 92.
    Szeryng - Brahms: Violin Concerto; Bach, Leclair, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 90440 Release Date: 02/10/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Claude Debussy,  Ottokar Novácek,  Josef Suk  ... 
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Paul Paray
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  • 93.
    Debussy: Piano Works Vol 3 / Jean-pierre Armengaud
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47578 Release Date: 01/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Armengaud
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  • 94.
    Debussy: Complete Works For Orchestra / Yan Pascal Tortelier
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10144 Release Date: 01/20/2004   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Colin Fleming,  Anne Queffélec,  Christopher King,  Rachel Masters  ... 
    Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra,  Grosvenor High School Choir Girls' Voices,  The Renaissance Singers
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  • 95.
    Debussy / Ravel - Piano Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8553279 Release Date: 01/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Klára Körmendi,  François-Joël Thiollier
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  • 96.
    Musique & Art Nouveau - Ravel, Debussy, Et Al / Ariagno
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47672 Release Date: 11/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacques Ibert,  Francis Poulenc,  Germaine Tailleferre,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Cristina Ariagno
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  • 97.
    Violin Virtuoso Masterpieces / Mischa Elman, Joseph Seiger
    Label: Artemis Records   Catalog: 1199 Release Date: 11/11/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  William Kroll,  Arthur Benjamin,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Mischa Elman,  Joe Seiger
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  • 98.
    Debussy: Favorite Piano Works / Tamás Vásáry
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000125602 Release Date: 10/14/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Tamás Vásáry
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  • 99.
    Masters Of The Piano Roll - Debussy Plays Debussy
    Label: Dal Segno   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 09/30/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking,  Carol Robinson,  Leff Pouishnov,  Richard Buhlig  ... 
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  • 100.
    Claudio Arrau - An Anniversary Tribute
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 473461 Release Date: 06/10/2003   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau,  Arthur Grumiaux
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle
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