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: La Mer, Nocturnes... / Fruhbeck de Burgos
Release Date: 01/20/2015   Label: Musical Concepts  
Catalog: 1277   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Complete Preludes / Martino Tirimo
Release Date: 05/07/2013   Label: Musical Concepts  
Catalog: 1211   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Images, Preludes Book 2 / Hamelin
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67920   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy, Ravel, Dvorak: Piano Trios / Daroch Trio
Release Date: 02/10/2015   Label: Dux Records  
Catalog: 758   Number of Discs: 1
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The Claude Debussy Collection
Release Date: 05/01/2012   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 193179   Number of Discs: 18
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Work: Children's Corner

Browse 26-50 of 119 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    The Debussy Edition [18-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001676372 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Franklin Cohen,  Jean-Rodolphe Kars,  Vera Badings,  Krystian Zimerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Bernard Haitink,  Eduard Van Beinum  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 27.
    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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  • 28.
    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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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    The Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Plays Debussy: The Last Recital
    Label: Appassionato   Catalog: 999101 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
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  • 31.
    Children's Corner - Debussy Orchestrations / Talmi, Orchestre Symphonique De Quebec
    Label: Atma Classique   Catalog: 2671 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Yoav Talmi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec
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  • 32.
    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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  • 33.
    Trilogie - Chopin, Debussy, Ravel / Samson Francois
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0283142 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Samson François
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  • 34.
    Sensual Classics: Children's Symphony
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300259 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Leopold Mozart,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Norman Shetler,  Peter Rösel
    Conductor:  Helmut Koch,  Günther Herbig
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  • 35.
    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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  • 36.
    The Debussy Experience
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 79230 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Philippe Jouvet,  Monique Haas,  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Eric Tappy  ... 
    Conductor:  Alain Lombard,  Armin Jordan,  James Conlon
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  • 37.
    Debussy: Prelude A L'apres Midi D'un Faune, La Mer, Images, Trois Nocturnes, Jeux
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 07216 Release Date: 02/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Philippe Alegre,  Martine Laure
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  André Previn,  Jean Martinon  ... 
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  • 38.
    Best Children's Classics 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17626 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Katia Labèque,  Marielle Labèque,  Moura Lympany  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Riccardo Muti,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 39.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 648500 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Katia Labèque,  Marielle Labèque,  Moura Lympany  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Riccardo Muti,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 40.
    French Piano Music / Grant Johannesen
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 3032 Release Date: 03/23/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Grant Johannesen
    Conductor:  Louis de Froment,  Bernhard Kontarsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Luxembourg Radio/Television Symphony Orchestra
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  • 41.
    Piano Masterworks - The World's Favourite Piano Classics - Bach, Debussy, Etc / Argerich, Arrau, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: B001206502 Release Date: 12/16/2009   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  András Schiff,  Andrei Gavrilov,  Friedrich Gulda,  Wilhelm Kempff  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Eliahu Inbal,  Horst Stein,  Zubin Mehta  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 42.
    Kaleidoscope - Premiere Record
    Label: Cambria   Catalog: 1193 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Claude Debussy,  Toni Beaulieu,  Michael Deák  ... 
    Performer:  Raymond Burley,  Gregg Nestor
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  • 43.
    Debussy: Pour le piano, Children's Corner / Jean-Bernard Pommier
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 99471 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Bernard Pommier
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  • 44.
    Debussy: L'oeuvre Complete Pour Piano / Jean Boguet
    Label: Tudor Records   Catalog: 731-34 Release Date: 06/26/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean Boguet
    CD: $48.99
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  • 45.
    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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  • 46.
    Debussy: Preludes / Nelson Freire
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001259602 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Nelson Freire
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  • 47.
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 93845 Release Date: 01/27/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Klára Würtz
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  • 48.
    Piano Music For Children - Beethoven: Fur Elise;  Debussy, Schumann, Tchaikovsky / Klara Wurtz
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 93845 Release Date: 01/27/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Claude Debussy,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Klára Würtz
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  • 49.
    Verbier Festival Highlights 2007
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 3078058 Release Date: 01/27/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Renaud Capuçon,  Martha Argerich,  Nelson Freire,  Sayaka Shoji  ... 
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  • 50.
    Kinderszenen - Classic Melodies For Children
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 38662 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Maurice Ravel,  Georges Bizet,  Leopold Mozart  ... 
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