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
Roussel, Debussy & Poulenc: Orchestral Works / Yamada, Orchestre de Suisse Romande
Release Date: 09/09/2016   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186558   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel & Debussy: Music for 2 Guitars / ChromaDuo
Release Date: 09/09/2016   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573286   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Pelléas Et Mélisande / Dutoit, Henry, Alliot-lugaz
Release Date: 10/15/2008   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 430502   Number of Discs: 2
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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: The Edgar Allan Poe Operas / Mueller, Gottinger Symphonie
Release Date: 06/24/2016   Label: Pan Classics  
Catalog: 10342   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Children's Corner

Browse 1-25 of 109 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002559502 Release Date: 09/23/2016   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
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  • 2.
    Ravel & Debussy: Music for 2 Guitars / ChromaDuo
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8573286 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ChromaDuo
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  • 3.
    Andre Watts: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 511979 Release Date: 06/03/2016   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  André Watts
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Thomas Schippers,  Seiji Ozawa,  Erich Leinsdorf
    CD: $34.99
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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    Debussy: Children’s Corner; Images Book II; Preludes Book II / Dalberto
    Label: Aparte   Catalog: 111 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michel Dalberto
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  • 6.
    Piano Legends / Michelangeli, Argerich, Brendel
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: OA 1153BD Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Alfred Brendel,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli,  Martha Argerich,  Paul Gulda  ... 
    Conductor:  Christian Arming
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $39.99
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  • 7.
    Piano Music for Children
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95101 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Klára Würtz
    Conductor:  Dirk Vermeulen
    CD: $8.99
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  • 8.
    Debussy: Piano Music, Vol. 4 /  Michael Korstick
    Label: Swr Music   Catalog: 93337 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michael Korstick
    CD: $18.99
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  • 9.
    The Complete Warner Recordings / Michelangeli
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 550576 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Domenico Scarlatti,  Baldassare Galuppi,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Franco Caracciolo,  Ettore Gracis,  Edmond de Stoutz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alessandro Scarlatti Orchestra,  Pomeriggi Musicali Chamber Orchestra,  Naples Scarlatti Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    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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  • 11.
    Debussy: Piano Works
    Label: Gega New   Catalog: 369 Release Date: 04/07/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Ivo Kaltchev
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  • 12.
    Schumann Edition
    Label: Iba [idil Biret Archives]   Catalog: 8508016 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Claude Debussy,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Idil Biret
    Conductor:  Antoni Wit
    CD: $39.99
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  • 13.
    Debussy: Piano Works
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 7697 Release Date: 06/24/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Sergio Ciomei
    CD: $19.99
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  • 14.
    William Kapell - Complete Recordings 1944-1953
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 5431362 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  William Kapell,  Jascha Heifetz,  William Primrose,  Edmund Kurtz
    Conductor:  William Steinberg,  Fritz Reiner,  Serge Koussevitzky,  Antal Doráti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Robin Hood Dell Orchestra of Philadelphia,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Dallas Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    Decca Sound - The Analogue Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001934702 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 54
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Anton Bruckner,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Marilyn Horne,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Sir Georg Solti,  Bernard Haitink,  Horst Stein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    Claude Debussy - Music Cannot Be Learned
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2066718 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoltán Kocsis
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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
    On sale! $16.99
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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    Debussy, Ravel: Piano Music / Ilja Hurnik
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4119 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Ilja Hurník
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  • 23.
    Ravel: Gaspard De La Nuit; Piano Concerto In G; Valses Nobles Et Sentimentales; Debussy: Children's Corner
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350091 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Ettore Gracis
    SuperAudio CD: $24.99
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  • 24.
    Debussy: The Piano Works / Martino Tirimo
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 4002 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Martino Tirimo
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  • 25.
    Alfred Cortot: Anniversary Edition
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 4907 Release Date: 11/19/2012   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Isaac Albeniz,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Alfred Cortot,  Pablo Casals,  Jacques Thibaud,  Charles Panzera  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  International String Quartet
    On sale! $119.98
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