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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Takemitsu, Debussy, Gubaidulina / Tre Voci
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Ecm  
Catalog: 002167702   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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Work: Images for Piano, Set 1

Browse 26-50 of 91 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Debussy Piano Edition [6-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001675602 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Alfons Kontarsky,  Aloys Kontarsky,  Anne Shasby  ... 
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kontarsky Duo,  Budapest Festival Orchestra
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  • 27.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Works / Walter Gieseking
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 55917 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking
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  • 28.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    Hommage A Debussy Vol 1 - Works For Piano / Juliana Steinbach
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 12226 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Juliana Steinbach
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  • 31.
    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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  • 32.
    Silent Colors  /  Matthew Hill
    Label: Blue Griffin   Catalog: 241 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  Earl Wild,  Olivier Messiaen
    Performer:  Matthew Hill
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  • 33.
    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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  • 34.
    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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  • 35.
    Hsia-jung Chang Plays Debussy
    Label: Mandala Studio   Catalog: 5637874563 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Hsia-Jung Chang
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  • 36.
    A Golden Proportion Recital / Nicholas Ross
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3157 Release Date: 11/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Nicholas Ross
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  • 37.
    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
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  • 38.
    Debussy: Piano Works / Mark Swartzentruber
    Label: Solo Records   Catalog: 5 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Mark Swartzentruber
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  • 39.
    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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  • 40.
    A Musical Journey To Russia And France / Rieko Yoshizumi
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 11199 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Rieko Yoshizumi
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  • 41.
    Debussy: Integrale De L'oeuvre Pour Piano, Vol. 2
    Label: Wergo   Catalog: 62412 Release Date: 08/03/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
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  • 42.
    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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  • 43.
    111 Years Of Deutsche Grammophon [55-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001341002 Release Date: 10/20/2009   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman,  Fritz Wunderlich,  Hubert Giesen,  Helmut Walcha  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  Daniele Callegari,  Herbert von Karajan,  Karl Richter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan,  Verdi Chorus Milan  ... 
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  • 44.
    Pictures At An Exhibition, Images... / Henri Bonamy
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 89160 Release Date: 10/01/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Henri Bonamy
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  • 45.
    Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy: Piano Works / Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Label: Fabula Classica   Catalog: 12084 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
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  • 46.
    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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  • 47.
    Images Of 3 Centuries / Aileen Chanco, Piano
    Label: Con Brio   Catalog: 251 Release Date: 06/09/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alberto Ginastera,  Mark Fish,  Claude Debussy,  Modest Mussorgsky
    Performer:  Aileen Chanco
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  • 48.
    Debussy: Images For Piano / Arrau, Benedetti Michelangeli, Doyen, Et Al
    Label: Ysaÿe   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 02/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Ignace Jan Paderewski,  Walter Gieseking
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  • 49.
    Debussy: Complete Works For Piano Vol 4 / Bavouzet
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10497 Release Date: 11/18/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
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  • 50.
    Michael Studer - The Legacy
    Label: Claves   Catalog: 2713/18 Release Date: 08/12/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Studer
    Conductor:  Fritz Rieger,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Helmut Müller-Brühl,  Tibor Varga
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Cologne Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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