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
French Favourites - Ravel, Milhaud, Debussy / Järvi, Detroit
Release Date: 09/26/2000   Label: Chandos Collect  
Catalog: 6615   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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An Introduction To Claude Debussy
Release Date: 09/19/2006   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 2024   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: String Quartet, Piano Trio, Deux Danses / Brodsky Quartet
Release Date: 04/24/2012   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10717   Number of Discs: 1
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Transcriptions for Two Pianists - Stravinsky, Debussy, Bartok / Bavouzet, Guy
Release Date: 06/30/2015   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10863   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.
    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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  • 2.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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    CD: $149.99
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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
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  • 4.
    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  ... 
    CD: $9.99
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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    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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  • 7.
    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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  • 8.
    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
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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    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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  • 11.
    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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  • 12.
    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
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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    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,  Pro Cantione Antiqua  ... 
    CD: $75.49
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  • 15.
    The Complete HMV Recordings / Markevitch
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 552546 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Richard Strauss,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Jacques Neilz,  Denyse Gouarne,  Fernand Dufrene,  Henri Bronschwak  ... 
    Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
    CD: $55.99
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  • 16.
    Preludes & Rhapsodies
    Label: Fidelio Musique   Catalog: 49 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  George Gershwin,  Johannes Brahms
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buzz Ensemble
    CD: $18.99
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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    Fahrende Gesellen
    Label: Passacaille   Catalog: 1008 Release Date: 02/24/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Alexander von Zemlinsky,  Ferruccio Busoni,  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Dietrich Henschel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oxalys
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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
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  • 21.
    100 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002188102 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Edvard Grieg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Lorin Maazel,  Neeme Järvi,  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Neeme Järvi,  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theater Violin Ensemble,  Ansbach Bach Week Soloists Union,  Salzburg Mozarteum Camerata Academica  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 22.
    Label: Sophia Pallas And Julian Trail   Catalog: 5638402569 Release Date: 12/16/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Sophia Pallas,  Julian Trail
    CD: $13.99
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  • 23.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    Love And Passion In Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 7828990 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Léo Delibes,  Claude Debussy,  Alexander Glazunov  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Rivka Golani,  János Selmeczy
    Conductor:  Peter Breiner,  Andrew Mogrelia,  Alexander Rahbari,  Konstantin Krimetz  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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