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
Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande / Finley, Kozena, Rattle, London Symphony
Release Date: 10/06/2017   Label: Lso Live  
Catalog: 790   Number of Discs: 4
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Debussy: Pelléas Et Mélisande / Pierre Boulez
Release Date: 12/13/1991   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 47265   Number of Discs: 3
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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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Songs Of Debussy And Fauré / Benita Valente, Lydia Artymiw
Release Date: 01/30/1996   Label: Centaur Records  
Catalog: 2220   Number of Discs: 1
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Claude Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande / Denise Duval; Michel Roux
Release Date: 03/31/2009   Label: Glyndebourne Festival Opera  
Catalog: 3-63   Number of Discs: 3
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Work: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Browse 26-50 of 258 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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
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  • 27.
    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
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  • 28.
    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
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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    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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  • 31.
    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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  • 32.
    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  ... 
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  • 33.
    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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  • 34.
    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  ... 
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  • 35.
    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
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  • 36.
    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  ... 
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  • 37.
    Leonard Bernstein Edition - Concertos & Orchestral Works
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301330 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 80
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Leonard Bernstein,  Harold Gomberg,  William Heim  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Seiji Ozawa,  Maurice Peress
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  New York Philharmonic members,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 38.
    Debussy: Orchestral Works / Holliger, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93315 Release Date: 09/30/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Daniel Gauthier,  Tatjana Ruhland
    Conductor:  Heinz Holliger
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  • 39.
    James Galway - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 302633 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Arthur Smith,  Various,  Traditional,  Stan Lebowsky  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Sylvia,  Marisa Robles,  Phillip Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Galway Pops Orchestra  ... 
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  • 40.
    La Flute Enchantee - Debussy, Franck, Jongen / Heinzmann, Blumina
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 14318 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joseph Jongen,  César Franck,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Hans-Udo Heinzmann,  Elisaveta Blumina
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  • 41.
    Ferenc Fricsay: Complete DG Recordings, Vol 1 - Orchestral Works
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002132602 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Tibor Varga,  Helmut Krebs,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 42.
    Berlioz, Franck, Debussy, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Bartok, 1970-81 / Karajan
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 1158847 Release Date: 07/15/2014   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Georges Bizet,  Emmanuel Chabrier  ... 
    Performer:  Karlheinz Zöller
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    CD: $44.49
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  • 43.
    Rca Living Stereo Collection, Vol. 2
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 300350 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Byron Janis,  Gary Graffman,  Vladimir Horowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Krips,  Fritz Reiner,  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $125.98
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  • 44.
    The Art Of The French Flute
    Label: Indesens   Catalog: 62 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy,  Charles-Marie Widor,  Francis Poulenc  ... 
    Performer:  Vincent Lucas,  Emmanuel Strosser,  Claudia Bara
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  • 45.
    Leonard Bernstein Collection Vol 1 [59 CDs & 1 DVD]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 2027800 Release Date: 04/22/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Leonard Bernstein,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Kurt Moll,  Hanna Schwarz  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Concert Choir,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 46.
    Debussy: Chamber Music
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250302 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jana Brozková,  Milan Polak,  Slavka Pechocova,  Václav Kunt  ... 
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  • 47.
    Classica Francese / Anette Maiburg
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog: 9101825 Release Date: 01/21/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Jean Cras,  André Jolivet,  Pierre Barouh  ... 
    Performer:  Wen Xiao Zheng,  Anette Maiburg,  Emmanuel Ceysson,  Karina Buschinger  ... 
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  • 48.
    The American Symphonic Organ / Jean-Baptiste Robin
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94726 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Isaac Albeniz,  Béla Bartók,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin,  STacey Rishoi
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  • 49.
    Ernest Ansermet - French Music
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4807898 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Gugolz,  Marie-Luise de Montmollin,  Nancy Waugh,  Suzanne Danco  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Union Chorale de la Tour-de-Peilz,  Geneva Motet Choir  ... 
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  • 50.
    Bernard Haitink - The Philips Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001903502 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Herman Krebbers,  Menahem Pressler,  Isidore Cohen  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beaux Arts Trio  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $79.98
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