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: Fall of the House of Usher / Pretre
Release Date: 04/09/2007   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 47921   Number of Discs: 1
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Gershwin, Ravel, Debussy / O'Riley, Wordsworth, Royal PO
Release Date: 08/11/2009   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28050   Number of Discs: 1
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Saint-saens, Debussy, Franck: Violin Sonatas / Contzen
Release Date: 06/13/2006   Label: Arte Nova  
Catalog: 592330   Number of Discs: 1
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Haydn, Debussy, Webern, Et Al / Rubin String Quartet
Release Date: 11/14/2006   Label: Arte Nova  
Catalog: 900690   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande / Maazel, Pilou, Guy, Et Al
Release Date: 06/12/2007   Label: Opera D'oro  
Catalog: 1473   Number of Discs: 3
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Work: Images for Piano, Set 2

Browse 1-25 of 82 Available Recordings
1 2 3 4
  • 1.
    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  ... 
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  • 2.
    Brahms, Debussy, Beethoven / Alexander Schimpf
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 1820 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Claude Debussy,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Alexander Schimpf
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  • 3.
    Charles Rosen - The Complete Columbia and Epic Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301476 Release Date: 12/02/2014   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Charles Rosen,  Paul Jacobs,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Frederik Prausnitz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    Debussy: Complete Works for Solo Piano / Paul Crossley
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 930732 Release Date: 08/26/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paul Crossley
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  • 6.
    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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  • 7.
    Debussy: Estampes; Images; 12 Etudes / Craig Sheppard
    Label: Roméo Records   Catalog: 160736 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Craig Sheppard
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  • 8.
    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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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    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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  • 11.
    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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  • 12.
    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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  • 13.
    Debussy: Complete Works for Piano / Bavouzet
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10743 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
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  • 14.
    Label: Honens   Catalog: 201103 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heinz Holliger,  Arthur Honegger,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Gilles Vonsattel
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  • 15.
    Images / John Milbauer
    Label: Fleur De Son   Catalog: 58006 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  George Crumb,  John Adams
    Performer:  John Milbauer
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  • 16.
    Impressions
    Label: Honens   Catalog: 200302 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Florent Schmitt,  Charles Tomlinson Griffes,  Karol Szymanowski  ... 
    Performer:  Winston Choi
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  • 17.
    Pierre-Laurent Aimard - The Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564660448 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  György Ligeti,  Olivier Messiaen,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Sophie Cherrier,  Tabea Zimmermann,  Alexei Lubimov
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  • 18.
    Grand Piano Masters: The Nightwind / Severin Von Eckardstein
    Label: K & K Verlagsanstalt   Catalog: 107 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Claude Debussy,  Nikolai Medtner
    Performer:  Severin von Eckardstein
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  • 19.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Music / Gordon Fergus-Thompson
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94415 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gordon Fergus-Thompson
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  • 20.
    Debussy Edition / Pascal Roge (5 CDs)
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4095 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Ami Rogé
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  • 21.
    The Debussy Recordings / Samson Francois
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 38754 Release Date: 05/22/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Samson François
    CD: $18.99
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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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1 2 3 4

Claude Debussy


WORKS
1. From Dawn Till Noon On The Sea (De l'aube à midi sur la mer)
2. Play Of The Waves (Jeux de vagues)
3. Dialogue Of The Wind And The Sea (Dialogue du vent et de la mer)
1. Animé et très décidé
2. Scherzo (Assez vif et bien rythmé)
3. Andantino doucement expressif
4. Très modéré - Très mouvementé - Très animé
1. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
2. Jimbo's Lullaby
3. Serenade For The Doll
4. The Snow Is Dancing
5. The Little Shepherd
6. Golliwogg's Cakewalk
1. Reflets dans l'eau
2. Hommage à Rameau
3. Mouvement
1. Cloches à travers les feuilles
2. Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fût
3. Poissons d'or
1. Danseuses de Delphes
2. Voiles
3. Le vent dans la plaine
4. Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir
5. Les collines d'Anacapri
6. Des pas sur la neige
7. Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest
8. La fille aux cheveux de lin
9. La sérénade interrompue
10. La cathédrale engloutie
11. La danse de Puck
12. Minstrels
1. Brouillards
2. Feuilles mortes
3. La puerta del vino
4. "Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses"
5. Bruyères
6. "General Lavine" - eccentric
7. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune
8. Ondine
9. Hommage à S. Pickwick, Esq., P.P.M.P.C.
10. Canope
11. Les tierces alternées
12. Feux d'artifice