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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 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
Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner & Debussy / Klemperer
Release Date: 11/17/2017   Label: Ica Classics  
Catalog: 5145   Number of Discs: 4
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Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 1 / Thiollier
Release Date: 09/19/1995   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8553290   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande / Oelze, Croft, Tomlinson
Release Date: 07/26/2005   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 3117   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Orchestral Works Vol 2 / Jun Märkl, Lyon NO
Release Date: 01/27/2009   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8570993   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel, Debussy & Massenet / Bavouzet, Tortelier, BBC Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 11/16/2010   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5084   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Browse 1-25 of 257 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Leonard Bernstein: Remastered Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 541714 Release Date: 10/27/2017   Number of Discs: 100
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Darius Milhaud,  Leonard Bernstein,  Harold Shapero  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
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  • 2.
    Boston Symphony Orchestra: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797718 Release Date: 10/20/2017   Number of Discs: 57
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Zukofsky,  Christoph Eschenbach,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Teresa Berganza  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  William Steinberg,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Chamber Players
    Recommendation
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  • 3.
    The Art of Alexander Meshibovsky / Meshibovsky, Kagramanova
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3584 Release Date: 10/06/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck,  Claude Debussy,  Alexander Meshibovsky
    Performer:  Alexander Meshibovsky,  Raisa Kagramanova
    CD: $17.99
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  • 4.
    Sir Georg Solti: The Complete Chicago Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4831375 Release Date: 09/15/2017   Number of Discs: 108
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $373.99
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  • 5.
    Violin Works / Vengerov, Vinogradova
    Label: Biddulph   Catalog: 001 Release Date: 09/01/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Franz Waxman  ... 
    Performer:  Irina Vinogradova,  Maxim Vengerov
    CD: $13.99
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  • 6.
    Leonard Bernstein, Vol. 1
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 743008 Release Date: 08/25/2017   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  Claude Debussy,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Hans Sotin,  Judith Blegen,  Claes-Hakan Ahnsjo  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Keith Lockhart,  John Williams,  Stefan Asbury  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    Daniel Barenboim: A Retrospective / Various
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985393632 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 46
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Carl Stamitz  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Saschko Gawriloff,  Halina Lukomska,  Pinchas Zukerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Daniel Barenboim,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 8.
    French Treasures / Semenenko, Firsova
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38544 Release Date: 05/19/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Ernest Chausson,  Claude Debussy,  Eugčne Ysa˙e
    Performer:  Aleksey Semenenko,  Inna Firsova
    CD: $18.99
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  • 9.
    Rhythm & Colours / Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 560929 Release Date: 05/05/2017   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Gustav Mahler,  Claude Debussy,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Christian Gerhaher,  Lawrence Brownlee,  Sally Matthews
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
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  • 10.
    Pierre Boulez & The Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797248 Release Date: 04/28/2017   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gustav Mahler,  Olivier Messiaen,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Juliane Banse,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
    CD: $32.49
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  • 11.
    Louis Fremaux Icon: Complete Birmingham Years
    Label: Wb / Parlophone   Catalog: 560476 Release Date: 04/21/2017   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Jules Massenet,  Georges Bizet,  Edouard Lalo  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $33.99
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  • 12.
    New York Philharmonic: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 533636 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ambroise Thomas  ... 
    Performer:  Oscar Levant,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern,  Yo-Yo Ma
    Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg,  Josef Stransky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 13.
    Debussy: Four-hand Piano Music, Vol. 2 / Armengaud, Chauzu
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8573463 Release Date: 11/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Armengaud,  Olivier Chauzu
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  • 14.
    Charles 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  ... 
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  • 15.
    Georges Pretre: The Symphonic Recordings
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 557140 Release Date: 09/02/2016   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Darius Milhaud,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Joseph Jongen  ... 
    Conductor:  Georges Prętre
    On sale! $54.98
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  • 16.
    Purple Classics Presents: The Classical Music Collection
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578336 Release Date: 06/17/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Edvard Grieg,  Franz Liszt,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Hĺvard Gimse,  Jenö Jandó,  Lucy Van Dael
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger,  Bjarte Engeset,  Alexander Rahbari,  Barry Wordsworth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 17.
    The Sound of Simon Rattle
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556096 Release Date: 06/17/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Gustav Holst,  Claude Debussy,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Kate Royal,  Magdalena Kozená
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
    CD: $20.99
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  • 18.
    Viscera, Carmen, Afternoon of a Faun & Pas de deux / Royal Ballet
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 1212 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lowell Liebermann,  Georges Bizet,  Claude Debussy,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Robert Clark
    Conductor:  Emmanuel Plasson,  Martin Yates
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Orchestra
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 19.
    Viscera, Carmen, Afternoon of a Faun & Pas de deux / Royal Ballet [Blu-ray]
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 7202 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lowell Liebermann,  Georges Bizet,  Claude Debussy,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Robert Clark
    Conductor:  Emmanuel Plasson,  Martin Yates
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 20.
    Traum Suß, Mein Baby, Vol. 2 (Sweet Dreams, My Baby)
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 11016 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert,  George Frideric Handel,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Hélčne Gŕl,  Arife Gülsen Tatu,  Anna Lelkes,  Miklós Spányi  ... 
    Conductor:  Henry Adolph,  Sidney Lark,  Carlo Pantelli,  Alberto Lizzio  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salzburg Mozart Soloists
    CD: $13.99
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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    Sognando lo spazio / Cecconi, Carey
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 14024 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Claude Debussy,  André Jolivet,  Carl Reinecke  ... 
    Performer:  Elena Cecconi,  Tim Carey
    CD: $17.99
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  • 25.
    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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