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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
The Claude Debussy Collection
Release Date: 05/01/2012   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 193179   Number of Discs: 18
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Ravel, Debussy / Pierre Boulez [6-CD Set]
Release Date: 05/08/2012   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 001676802   Number of Discs: 6
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Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande / Gilfry, Rey, Welser-Most
Release Date: 11/13/2012   Label: Arthaus Musik  
Catalog: 107285   Number of Discs: 2
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Debussy: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4 / Markl, Orchestra National De Lyon
Release Date: 09/28/2010   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572297   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Complete Orchestral Works / Jun Markl, Orchestre National De Lyon
Release Date: 02/28/2012   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8509002   Number of Discs: 9
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Work: La mer

Browse 151-175 of 185 Available Recordings
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  • 151.
    Stravinsky, Beethoven, Debussy / Kameda, Balet
    Label: Cypres   Catalog: 1610 Release Date: 08/12/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Mayumi Kameda,  Jean-Jacques Balet
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  • 152.
    Debussy: La Mer; Rimsky-korsakov: Scheherazade / Leinsdorf
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67314 Release Date: 06/06/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
    Performer:  Israel Baker
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  Concert Arts Orchestra
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  • 153.
    Hans Zender Edition Vol 4 - Debussy: Images, Jeux, La Mer
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 999476 Release Date: 04/01/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Hans Zender
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Saar Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 154.
    Impressions Of The Sea / Joann Falletta, Long Beach So
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 364 Release Date: 01/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Frank Bridge,  Anatole Liadov,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Conductor:  JoAnn Falletta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Long Beach Symphony Orchestra
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  • 155.
    Debussy: La Mer;  Ravel: Daphnis And Chloe, Etc
    Label: Vox Da Capo   Catalog: 7209 Release Date: 11/23/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Michael Gielen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra,  St. Olaf Choir,  Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
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  • 156.
    Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes, Jeux, Etc / Dutoit, Montreal So
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460217 Release Date: 11/09/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Timothy Hutchins
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montréal Symphony Women's Chorus
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  • 157.
    Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes, Etc / Previn, London So
    Label: Emi Seraphim   Catalog: 73565 Release Date: 10/19/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers
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  • 158.
    Debussy: Jeux, La Mer, Nocturnes / Lorin Maazel, Vienna Po
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 64616 Release Date: 09/14/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arnold Schoenberg Choir,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 159.
    Bernstein Century - Debussy: La Mer, Jeux, Nocturnes, Etc
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 60972 Release Date: 03/16/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 160.
    Mendelssohn, Schönberg, Debussy / Mitropoulos, Berlin Po
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 488981 Release Date: 11/01/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Conductor:  Dimitri Mitropoulos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 161.
    Charles Munch Edition Vol 4 - Debussy: Iberia, La Mer, Etc
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 4828 Release Date: 08/11/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
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  • 162.
    Debussy: Orchestral Works Vol 1 / Martinon, Ortf Orchestra
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 572667 Release Date: 08/11/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Fabienne Boury-Fournier,  Michel Sedrez,  Alain Marion
    Conductor:  Jean Martinon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra,  ORTF Chorus
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  • 163.
    Debussy: 2 Nocturnes, Jeux, La Mer;  Respighi / De Sabata
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1108 Release Date: 02/01/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Ottorino Respighi
    Conductor:  Victor De Sabata
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
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  • 164.
    Take 2 - Debussy: Orchestral Works / Szell, Ormandy, Et Al
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 63244 Release Date: 11/18/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Frederica Von Stade,  Susanne Mentzer
    Conductor:  Louis Lane,  Seiji Ozawa,  Pierre Boulez,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Tanglewood Festival Chorus,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 165.
    The Classic Sound - Ravel: Boléro, La Valse, Etc / Ansermet
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 448576 Release Date: 07/15/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Paul Dukas  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
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  • 166.
    Debussy: Works For Two Pianos / Lonskov, Llambias
    Label: Kontrapunkt   Catalog: 32107 Release Date: 06/20/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Rodolfo Llambias,  Tove Lonskov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lonskov-Llambias Piano Duo
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  • 167.
    Ravel: Bolero;  Debussy, Mussorgsky / Karajan, Berlin Po
    Label: Dg The Originals   Catalog: 447426 Release Date: 02/13/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 168.
    Debussy: Orchestral Works / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 68327 Release Date: 12/05/1995   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Alice Chalifoux,  Gervase de Peyer
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir
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  • 169.
    Respighi: Pines of Rome, Fountains of Rome; Debussy: La Mer / Reiner
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 68079 Release Date: 04/11/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ottorino Respighi,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 170.
    Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes, Etc / Boulez, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439896 Release Date: 03/21/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Franklin Cohen
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
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  • 171.
    Debussy: Music For Two Pianos / Yukie Nagai, Dag Achatz
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 526 Release Date: 10/12/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Dag Achatz,  Inzuki "Yukie" Nagai
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  • 172.
    Debussy: La Mer, Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Faun
    Label: Sony Classical Infinity Digital   Catalog: 64334 Release Date: 10/04/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Vato Kahi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Georgian Festival Orchestra
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  • 173.
    Debussy: La Mer, Iberia, Etc;  Ravel / Paray, Detroit So
    Label: Mercury Living Presence   Catalog: 434343 Release Date: 09/20/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Paul Paray
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
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  • 174.
    Debussy - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64065 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paul Crossley,  Branford Marsalis,  Philippe Entremont
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Andrew Litton,  Pierre Boulez,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Juilliard String Quartet  ... 
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  • 175.
    Ravel - The Greatest Hits
    Label: Reference Gold   Catalog: 3608 Release Date: 04/13/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Kun-Woo Paik,  Anna Lelkes,  Pamela Endsley,  Sylvia Cápová
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Denver Symphony Orchestra,  London Festival Orchestra  ... 
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