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
Debussy: Complete Works for Solo Piano / Paul Crossley
Release Date: 08/26/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 930732   Number of Discs: 4
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Takemitsu, Debussy, Gubaidulina / Tre Voci
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Ecm  
Catalog: 002167702   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Songs, Vol. 3 / Mcgovern, France, Martineau
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 68016   Number of Discs: 1
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Release Date: 03/04/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 1222828   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Complete Piano Music / Martin Jones
Release Date: 10/07/1997   Label: Nimbus  
Catalog: 1773   Number of Discs: 5
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Work: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Browse 251-275 of 299 Available Recordings
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  • 251.
    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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  • 252.
    Debussy: Complete Music For Two Pianos / Coombs And Scott
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55014 Release Date: 07/13/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Stephen Coombs,  Christopher Scott
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  • 253.
    French Orchestral Favorites - Dukas, Debussy, Satie / Pretre, Ortf National Orchestra
    Label: Emi Seraphim   Catalog: 73427 Release Date: 06/15/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  André Gantiez,  Michèle Boussinot,  Philippe Pierlot
    Conductor:  Georges Prêtre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
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  • 254.
    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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  • 255.
    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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  • 256.
    Dance Of The Blessed Spirits - Music For Flute & Harp
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8554166 Release Date: 07/28/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Erik Satie,  Sir Edward Elgar,  François Joseph Gossec  ... 
    Performer:  Judy Loman,  Nora Shulman
    CD: $9.99
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  • 257.
    James Galway - Meditations
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 37731 Release Date: 05/19/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Marisa Robles,  Christopher O'Riley,  Phillip Moll
    Conductor:  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata,  James Galway,  Charles Gerhardt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Irish Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 258.
    Classic Romance - Piano Music / Anthony & Joseph Paratore
    Label: Four Winds   Catalog: 3005 Release Date: 02/17/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Alexander Scriabin  ... 
    Performer:  Anthony Paratore,  Joseph Paratore
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  • 259.
    Mars & Venus - A Musical Portrait Of Men And Women
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 68999 Release Date: 01/13/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Claude Debussy,  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Monteux,  Fritz Reiner,  Claus Peter Flor  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Berkshire Festival Chorus Women,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 260.
    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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  • 261.
    Tune Your Brain - Music To Manage Your Mind, Body And Mood
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 457356 Release Date: 09/16/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Richard Wagner,  Franz Schubert,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Cheryl Studer,  Gil Shaham,  Trevor Pinnock,  Géza Anda  ... 
    Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung,  James Levine,  Ion Marin,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bastille Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 262.
    Homage To Diaghilev / Igor Markevich, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1105 Release Date: 07/01/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Vincenzo Tommasini,  Manuel de Falla,  Paul Dukas  ... 
    Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 263.
    New York Legends - Jeanne Baxtresser, Principal Flute
    Label: Cala Records   Catalog: 512 Release Date: 03/11/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Walter Gieseking,  Frank Martin,  Otar Taktakishvili,  Philippe Gaubert  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanne Baxtresser,  Pedja Muzijevic,  Alan Stepansky,  Sarah Bullen
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  • 264.
    Ravel: Bolero;  Debussy: L'apres-midi;  Stravinsky / Solti
    Label: London/Decca Jubilee   Catalog: 417704 Release Date: 10/30/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 265.
    Quiet Music for Quiet Times
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 454735 Release Date: 09/24/1996   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Mitsuko Uchida,  Peter Damm,  Stephen Kovacevich,  Irena Grafenauer  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir Colin Davis,  Kurt Masur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Holliger Wind Ensemble  ... 
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  • 266.
    Grand Piano - Debussy / D'albert, Copeland, Grainger, Et Al
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 8807 Release Date: 07/06/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Eugène d' Albert,  Artur Rubinstein,  Myra Hess,  George Copeland  ... 
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  • 267.
    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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  • 268.
    Tour De France - Bizet, Debussy, Faure, Et Al / Webster Trio
    Label: Crystal   Catalog: 356 Release Date: 05/28/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michael Webster,  Katherine Collier,  Leone Buyse
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Webster Trio
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  • 269.
    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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  • 270.
    Debussy, Ravel, Bax, Casella: Works For 2 Pianos
    Label: Connoisseur Society   Catalog: 4171 Release Date: 12/01/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Alfredo Casella,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Cosmo Buono,  David Bradshaw
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  • 271.
    Orchestre Des Concerts Lamoureux - Albert Wolff
    Label: Timpani   Catalog: 4024 Release Date: 12/01/1995   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Etienne-Nicolas Méhul,  Hector Berlioz,  Edouard Lalo,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanne-Marie Darré
    Conductor:  Albert Wolff
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
    CD: $39.99
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  • 272.
    Inner Peace - Classics For The Spirit
    Label: Sony Classical Infinity Digital   Catalog: 61977 Release Date: 11/14/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gustav Holst,  Samuel Barber,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Oleg Malov,  Natalya Taldykina,  Nodar Gabunia,  Alexander Kiskachin  ... 
    Conductor:  Alexander Titov,  Vato Kahi,  Jahni Mardjani,  Stanislav Gorkovenko  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg New Classical Orchestra,  Georgian Festival Orchestra,  Georgian Festival Chorus  ... 
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  • 273.
    Julius Baker In Recital / Lisa Emenheiser Logan
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1022 Release Date: 05/18/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  César Franck,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Muczynski  ... 
    Performer:  Lisa Emenheiser Logan,  Julius Baker
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  • 274.
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 446484 Release Date: 04/11/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau,  Zoltán Kocsis,  Roger Bourdin,  Colette Lequien  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  André Previn,  Paul Paray,  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Quartetto Italiano,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 275.
    Debussy: Clair De Lune
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 4029 Release Date: 02/21/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Peter Schmalfuss,  Jadwiga Kotnowska
    Conductor:  Loic Bertrand
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