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, Ravel: Music for Two Pianos / Ashkenazys
Release Date: 08/25/2009   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 001312902   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Favorite Piano Works / Tamás Vásáry
Release Date: 10/14/2003   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 000125602   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy & Ravel On The Organ / Gunnar Idenstam
Release Date: 07/08/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2049   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: The Solo Piano Works / Noriko Ogawa
Release Date: 01/31/2012   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1955   Number of Discs: 6
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Works By Debussy, Francaix, Glinka, Milhaud & Prokofiev / Bliss, Moore
Release Date: 08/12/2014   Label: Signum U.k.  
Catalog: 384   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Children's Corner

Browse 76-100 of 123 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    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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  • 77.
    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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  • 78.
    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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  • 79.
    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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  • 80.
    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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  • 81.
    Debussy: Piano Music Vol 4 - The Youthful Debussy / Howat
    Label: Tall Poppies   Catalog: 165 Release Date: 08/26/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Roy Howat
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  • 82.
    Mozart, Beethoven, Et Al / Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000001602 Release Date: 04/08/2003   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Cord Garben
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hamburg
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  • 83.
    Debussy: Piano Music / Philippe Entremont
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 87278 Release Date: 04/01/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Philippe Entremont
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  • 84.
    Debussy: Piano Music Vol 2 / Noriko Ogawa
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1205 Release Date: 02/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Noriko Ogawa
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  • 85.
    Inghelbrecht: La Nursery / Lise Boucher
    Label: Atma Classique   Catalog: 22266 Release Date: 01/01/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Lise Bouchard
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  • 86.
    Tête À Tête - Debussy: Preludes, Estampes, Etc / Noël Lee
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 1001 Release Date: 10/08/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Noel Lee
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  • 87.
    Alfred Cortot - The Late Recordings Vol 1 - 1947
    Label: Apr (Appian)   Catalog: 5571 Release Date: 07/30/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Alfred Cortot
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  • 88.
    Debussy: Images, Preludes, Children's Corner / Michelangeli
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 40649 Release Date: 07/16/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
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  • 89.
    Essential Debussy - 26 Of His Greatest Masterpieces
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 472404 Release Date: 07/16/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Doriot Dwyer,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Alexis Weissenberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Herbert von Karajan,  Charles Dutoit,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 90.
    Debussy: Children's Corner, Etc / Cluytens, Ortf National
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1236 Release Date: 05/14/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
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  • 91.
    Debussy: Piano Works / Werner Haas
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4681932 Release Date: 05/13/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Werner Haas
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  • 92.
    Debussy For Children / Boris Berman
    Label: Ottavo   Catalog: 59970 Release Date: 07/31/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Boris Berman
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  • 93.
    Debussy: Estampes / Kyoko Tabe
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9912 Release Date: 06/26/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Kyoko Tabe
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  • 94.
    Trio Lyra Performs Ravel, Debussy, Faure
    Label: Opening Day   Catalog: 9309 Release Date: 03/30/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  Mark Childs,  Erica Goodman,  Suzanne Shulman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Lyra
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  • 95.
    Debussy: 2 Arabesques, Rêverie, Etc / David Allen Wehr
    Label: Connoisseur Society   Catalog: 4219 Release Date: 10/27/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  David Allen Wehr
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  • 96.
    Debussy: Images, Études / Jean-yves Thibaudet
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460247 Release Date: 05/09/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet
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  • 97.
    Piccolodeon - Works For Piccolo & Flutes, Harp & Percussion / Laurence Trott
    Label: Fleur De Son   Catalog: 57937 Release Date: 03/15/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Claude Debussy,  Preston Stahly,  Dan Fox  ... 
    Performer:  Laurence Trott,  William Moersch,  Sara Cutler
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  • 98.
    Classics For Children - Prokofiev, Saint-saëns, Et Al
    Label: London/Decca Double Decker   Catalog: 458595 Release Date: 10/12/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Jacques Ibert,  Georges Bizet,  François Couperin  ... 
    Performer:  Varda Nishri,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Pascal Rogé,  Sir Ralph Richardson  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Karl Münchinger,  Richard Bonynge,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra,  Finchley Children's Music Group  ... 
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  • 99.
    Debussy: Piano Music / Jean-louis Haguenauer
    Label: Meridian Records   Catalog: 84379 Release Date: 03/23/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Louis Haguenauer
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  • 100.
    William Kapell Edition
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 68442 Release Date: 09/29/1998   Number of Discs: 9
    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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