Claude Debussy


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 ŕ l'aprčs-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 ŕ l'aprčs-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: Complete Music for Piano Duo / Damerini, Rapetti
Release Date: 04/30/2013   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94448   Number of Discs: 3
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Debussy: Preludes, Images & Nocturne / Ammara
Release Date: 09/30/2016   Label: Pinao Classics  
Catalog: 0110   Number of Discs: 1
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Piano Music For Children - Beethoven: Fur Elise;  Debussy, Schumann, Tchaikovsky / Klara Wurtz
Release Date: 01/27/2009   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 93845   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: 12 Etudes / Mariangela Vacatello
Release Date: 10/30/2012   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94371   Number of Discs: 1
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Szymanowsky, Debussy: String Quartets
Release Date: 01/29/2016   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94744   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: La mer

Browse 1-25 of 160 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Munch: The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 516979 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 86
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Vincent D'Indy  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Artur Rubinstein,  Margaret Roggero,  Leslie Chabey  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Harvard Glee Club  ... 
    On sale! $221.98
    CD: $213.49
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  • 2.
    Mravinsky Edition, Vol. 1
    Label: Profil   Catalog: PH15000 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter
    Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $29.99
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  • 3.
    The French Symphonic Recordings / Jordan
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 557552 Release Date: 09/30/2016   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Ernest Chausson,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Delage  ... 
    Conductor:  Armin Jordan
    On sale! $32.98
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  • 4.
    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  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 5.
    Un Siecle De Musique Francaise: Claude Debussy
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192902 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Alice Chalifoux,  Michel Dalberto
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    CD: $14.99
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  • 6.
    Debussy: La mer - Ravel: Daphnis & Chloe / Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker [Vinyl]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: B002475001 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    LP: $25.49
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  • 7.
    Decca Sound – Dutoit: The Montreal Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002449102 Release Date: 02/19/2016   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ernest Chausson,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Timothy Hutchins,  Beverly Hoch,  Stanford Olsen  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
    CD: $117.99
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  • 8.
    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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  • 9.
    The History of Classical Music in 24 Hours
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002403602 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 24
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Pérotin,  Guillaume de Machaut,  John Dunstable  ... 
    Performer:  Konrad Ragossnig,  Charles [Tenor Vocals] Daniels,  Susan Gritton,  Trevor Pinnock  ... 
    Conductor:  Pater Godehard Joppich,  David Munrow,  Josef Ulsamer,  Bruno Turner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Early Music Consort of London,  Ulsamer-Collegium,  Hamburger Bläserkreis für Alte Musik  ... 
    CD: $75.49
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  • 10.
    Yevgeny Mravinsky: Special Edition
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002295 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Claude Debussy,  Richard Wagner,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  A. Vavilina-Mravinskaya
    Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
    CD: $54.49
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  • 11.
    Charles Munch In Moscow
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 2279 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Arthur Honegger,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Albert Roussel
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  USSR State Academy Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 12.
    Pierre Boulez - 20th Century
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002250902 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 44
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alban Berg,  Harrison Birtwistle,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Performer:  John Tomlinson,  John Aler,  Krystian Zimerman,  Leif Ove Andsnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Martyn Brabbins
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $279.49
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  • 13.
    Maurice Ravel, Paul Dukas, Claude Debussy, Emmanuel A. Chabrier
    Label: Tuxedo Music   Catalog: 1006 Release Date: 02/03/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Paul Dukas,  Emmanuel Chabrier
    Conductor:  Edouard Van Remoortel
    CD: $13.99
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  • 14.
    Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes... / Fruhbeck de Burgos
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1277 Release Date: 01/20/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 15.
    Pierre Boulez: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301333 Release Date: 11/24/2014   Number of Discs: 67
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alexander Scriabin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Alban Berg  ... 
    Performer:  Karl Dönch,  Isabel Strauss,  Walter Berry,  Fritz Uhl  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Anton Webern
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Schola Cantorum New York  ... 
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  • 16.
    Debussy: La mer, Images & Prelude a l'apres midi d'un faune / Shui, Singapore Symphony
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1837 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Lan Shui
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Singapore Symphony Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $21.49
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  • 17.
    Lorin Maazel: The Cleveland Years - Complete Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002217602 Release Date: 11/10/2014   Number of Discs: 19
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Mikhail Glinka  ... 
    Performer:  Kenneth Riegel,  Lynn Harrell,  Pascal Rogé,  Ivan Davis
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Antal Doráti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $117.99
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  • 18.
    Great Symphonies
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5132 Release Date: 10/28/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  David Wilson-Johnson
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky,  Guido Cantelli,  Ataulfo Argenta  ... 
    CD: $44.49
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  • 19.
    Leonard Bernstein Edition - Concertos & Orchestral Works
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301330 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 80
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Leonard Bernstein,  Harold Gomberg,  William Heim  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Seiji Ozawa,  Maurice Peress
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  New York Philharmonic members,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 20.
    Phase 4 Stereo - Stereo Concert Series
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002188302 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 41
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Charles A. Zimmerman,  Francis S. Van Boskerck,  George Norton  ... 
    Performer:  Stanley Black,  David Parkhouse,  Alan Loveday,  Robert Merrill  ... 
    Conductor:  Rodney Bashford,  Stanley Black,  Bernard Herrmann,  Edward Downes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grenadier Guards Band,  London Festival Orchestra,  London Festival Recording Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 21.
    The Originals - Legendary Recordings from DG
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002171502 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Pierre Fournier,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  David Oistrakh,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Franz Konwitschny,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 22.
    The Seafarer
    Label: Orchid Classics   Catalog: 100043 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Sally Beamish
    Performer:  Willard White
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Apaches
    CD: $17.99
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  • 23.
    Pierre Boulez In Moscow
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 2255 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Anton Webern,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    CD: $18.99
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  • 24.
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 1158847 Release Date: 07/15/2014   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Georges Bizet,  Emmanuel Chabrier  ... 
    Performer:  Karlheinz Zöller
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    CD: $44.49
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  • 25.
    Debussy & Ravel On The Organ / Gunnar Idenstam
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 2049 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Gunnar Idenstam
    SuperAudio CD: $21.49
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