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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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Reger, Schulhoff, Sherwood, Debussy, Mendelssohn - Piano For Four Hands / Matthias Veit , Henning Lucius
Release Date: 12/09/2014   Label: Telos  
Catalog: 63   Number of Discs: 1
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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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Work: La mer

Browse 26-50 of 185 Available Recordings
1 2 3 ... 7 8
  • 26.
    Anthology Of The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vol 7: 2000-2010
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 12004 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Leos Janácek,  Richard Strauss,  Alphons Diepenbrock,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Vesko Eschkenazy,  Godfried Hoogeveen,  Lars Vogt,  Jorgen Van Rijen  ... 
    Conductor:  Mark Elder,  Lorin Maazel,  Claus Peter Flor,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    On sale! $246.98
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  • 27.
    Icon - Arturo Toscanini [6-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 233342 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gioachino Rossini,  Claude Debussy,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 28.
    Icon - Constantin Silvestri [15-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 233472 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  George Enescu,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Conductor:  Constantin Silvestri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
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  • 29.
    Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes, Etc / Fruhbeck De Burgos
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1177 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paul Edmund-Davies
    Conductor:  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
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  • 30.
    Philips Original Jackets Collection  [55-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001767702 Release Date: 12/04/2012   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Max Bruch,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Elisabeth Unger,  Claudio Arrau,  Thomas Zehetmair  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur,  Bernard Haitink,  Frans Brüggen,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beaux Arts Trio  ... 
    On sale! $169.98
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  • 31.
    Debussy: La Mer; Images; Prelude A L'apres-midi D'un Faune
    Label: Zig Zag   Catalog: 313 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
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  • 32.
    Gary Bertini Conducts Strauss, Mahler, Ravel, Debussy, Berlioz
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 7136 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Håkan Hagegård,  Thomas Quasthoff,  Elisabeth Leonskaja
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 33.
    Eugene Ormandy Conducts 20th Century Classics
    Label: Sony (Nax615)   Catalog: 417202 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Van Cliburn,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Mendelssohn Club Chorus Philadelphia,  Rutgers University Chorus
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  • 34.
    Carl Schuricht Collection II - Historical Recordings 1951-1966
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93292 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Conductor:  Carl Schuricht
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $88.99
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  • 35.
    Debussy: La Mer; Nocturnes / Barenboim, Orchestre De Paris
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001739602 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
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  • 36.
    Dances And Waves - Schonbrunn Summer Night Concert 2012 / Dudamel, Vienna PO
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001717502 Release Date: 08/21/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Alexander Borodin,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 37.
    Dances And Waves - Schonbrunn Summer Night Concert 2012 / Dudamel, Vienna PO [DVD]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001717609 Release Date: 08/21/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Alexander Borodin,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 38.
    Debussy: La Mer / Dutoit, Orchestre Symphonique De Montreal
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001708702 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Timothy Hutchins
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montréal Symphony Women's Chorus
    CD: $13.99
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  • 39.
    Arturo Toscanini - The Complete RCA Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 791631 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 85
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Nan Merriman,  Jan Peerce,  Norman Scott  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Robert Shaw Chorale,  NBC Symphony Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 40.
    Debussy: Orchestral Works / Deneve, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5102 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Stéphane Denève
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  Women Of The Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus
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  • 41.
    Debussy: La Mer
    Label: Brussels Philharmonic Recordings   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Michel Tabachnik
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  • 42.
    Ravel, Debussy / Pierre Boulez [6-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001676802 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Franklin Cohen,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Lisa Wellbaum,  Alison Hagley  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $49.98
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  • 43.
    Claire De Lune - Debussy Favorites
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001675502 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  James Earl Barnes,  Timothy Hutchins,  Vera Badings,  Zoltán Kocsis  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Bernard Haitink,  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
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  • 44.
    Debussy: La Mer, Prelude A L'apres-midi D'un Faune, Images / Gatti, Orchestre National De France
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 797400 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
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  • 45.
    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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  • 46.
    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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  • 47.
    Debussy: La Mer; Ravel: La Valse, Ma Mere L'oye /   Chung, Seoul Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4764498 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 48.
    Icon - Guido Cantelli: Fiery Angel Of The Podium
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog:  6790432 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Dennis Brain
    Conductor:  Guido Cantelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra  ... 
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  • 49.
    Debussy: Complete Orchestral Works / Jun Markl, Orchestre National De Lyon
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8509002 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Paul Meyer,  Alexandre Doisy,  Emmanuel Ceysson
    Conductor:  Jun Märkl
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra,  Leipzig Radio Chorus
    Recommendation
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  • 50.
    Celibidache  Vol  3 - French & Russian Music / Munich Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 85606 Release Date: 11/29/2011   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Darius Milhaud
    Performer:  Peter Sadlo,  János Starker,  Eric Le Sage,  Emmanuel Pahud  ... 
    Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache,  Leonard Bernstein,  Walter Susskind,  John Alldis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $87.98
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