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 / Pierre Boulez
Release Date: 12/13/1991   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 47265   Number of Discs: 3
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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: 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: Images for Piano, Set 1

Browse 1-25 of 85 Available Recordings
1 2 3 4
  • 1.
    Claudio Arrau: The Complete RCA Victor & Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 307165 Release Date: 10/07/2016   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau
    Conductor:  Karl Krueger,  Desiré DeFauw,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
    CD: $39.99
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  • 2.
    Debussy: Preludes, Images & Nocturne / Ammara
    Label: Pinao Classics   Catalog: 0110 Release Date: 09/30/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Alessandra Ammara
    CD: $17.99
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  • 3.
    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
    CD: $61.49
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  • 4.
    Emil Gilels: The Seattle Recital
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002536902 Release Date: 08/19/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Emil Gilels
    CD: $14.99
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  • 5.
    Un siecle de musique francaise (A Century of French Music)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192862 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Gervase de Peyer,  Michel Dalberto,  Daniel Varsano  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Charles Munch,  Seiji Ozawa,  Richard Marlow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 6.
    Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 1 / Lee
    Label: Icsm   Catalog: 80060 Release Date: 04/01/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Dennis Lee
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  • 7.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 8.
    Kathryn Stott: The Complete Solo Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875135622 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Liszt,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Kathryn Stott
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  • 9.
    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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  • 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.
    Sviatoslav Richter: The Complete Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301470 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Robert La Marchina,  Sviatoslav Richter
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf,  Christoph Eschenbach
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  • 12.
    Crossing Borders / Eugenie Russo
    Label: Orlando Records (Classical)   Catalog: 10 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Claude Debussy,  Egon Wellesz
    Performer:  Eugenie Russo
    CD: $18.99
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  • 13.
    Debussy: Images I; Suite Bergamasque; Pour Le Piano
    Label: Dux Records   Catalog: 1111 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Piotr Machnik
    CD: $19.99
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  • 14.
    Debussy: Images, Preludes Book 2 / Hamelin
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67920 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin
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  • 15.
    Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 3 / Micheael Korstick
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93319 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michael Korstick
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  • 16.
    Debussy: Piano Works
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 7697 Release Date: 06/24/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Sergio Ciomei
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  • 17.
    Debussy: Estampes; Images; 12 Etudes / Craig Sheppard
    Label: Roméo Records   Catalog: 7299/7300 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Craig Sheppard
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  • 18.
    Debussy: L'isle Joyeuse, Images Book I, Estampes / Nelson Goerner
    Label: Zig Zag   Catalog: 326 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Nelson Goerner
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  • 19.
    Kit Goldstein Grant: The Wrong Box
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5638162192 Release Date: 08/02/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kit Goldstein Grant,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Barret Germain
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Studio Orchestra
    CD: $20.99
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  • 20.
    The Impressionists / Mary Towse-Beck
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5638131362 Release Date: 08/02/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Charles Tomlinson Griffes,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Mary Towse-beck
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  • 21.
    Classical Music For Your Star Sign: Leo
    Label: United Multimedia   Catalog: 67042 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Claude Debussy,  Edvard Grieg,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Dieter Goldmann,  Mario-Ratko Delorko
    Conductor:  Alfred Scholz,  Libor Pesek,  Pierre Narrato,  Cesare Cantieri
    CD: $4.99
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  • 22.
    Debussy: Images; Chopin: Preludes /   	Paris Tsenikoglou
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 864 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Paris Tsenikoglou
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  • 23.
    Hommage a Debussy / Carlo Grante
    Label: Music & Arts   Catalog: 1267 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Carlo Grante,  Alfredo Casella,  Paul Dukas  ... 
    Performer:  Carlo Grante
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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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