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: Chamber Music / Boston Symphony Chamber Players
Release Date: 11/13/2015   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186226   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy & Ravel On The Organ / Gunnar Idenstam
Release Date: 07/08/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2049   Number of Discs: 1
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Märta Schéle Sings Debussy, Milhaud, Ravel, Britten, Et Al
Release Date: 12/12/1995   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 34   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Piano Music Vol 1 / Noriko Ogawa
Release Date: 05/29/2001   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1105   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy Arranged For Ten-stringed Guitar / Anders Miolin
Release Date: 04/15/2000   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 986   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Browse 26-50 of 235 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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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  • 27.
    Label: Somerset Entertainment   Catalog: 61708 Release Date: 09/25/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
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  • 28.
    Bernard Haitink - The Philips Years [20-CD Set]
    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  ... 
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  • 29.
    Mussorgsky/Stokowski: Pictures At An Exhibition  / Yamada, Japan Philharmonic
    Label: Exton   Catalog: 489 Release Date: 09/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Modest Mussorgsky
    Conductor:  Kazuki Yamada
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Japan Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 30.
    Mahler: Symphony No. 4, Debussy: Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune / Pinnock, Royal Academy of Music
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 438 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gustav Mahler
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble
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  • 31.
    Debussy: Images; Prelude A L'apres-midi D'un Faune; La Boite A Joujoux
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350093 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Lucien Lavaillote
    Conductor:  Manuel Rosenthal,  Ernest Ansermet
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  • 32.
    Debussy: La mer, Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune; Ravel, Saint-Saens / Pascal & Ami Roge
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4117 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Ami Rogé,  Pascal Rogé
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  • 33.
    Transcriptions / Grau Schumacher Piano Duo
    Label: Neos   Catalog: 20903 Release Date: 07/02/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Richard Wagner,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
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  • 34.
    Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps; Ravel, Debussy / Jordan, Paris National Opera
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5332 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Armin Jordan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris National Opera Orchestra
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  • 35.
    Debussy: Complete Music for Piano Duo / Damerini, Rapetti
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94448 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Massimiliano Damerini,  Marco Rapetti
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  • 36.
    Masters Of The Modern Age I: Music From The Time Of Degas, Cezanne, And Van Gogh
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8503269 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Edouard Lalo,  César Franck,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Kliegel,  Michaël Levinas,  Arnaldo Cohen,  Hidenori Komatsu  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Halász,  Hervé Niquet,  Johannes Wildner,  Cord Garben  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quatuor Ludwig
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  • 37.
    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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  • 38.
    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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  • 39.
    Monumental Karajan!
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 232892 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Wagner,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Karlheinz Zöller
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 40.
    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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  • 41.
    Fifty Shades Of Emotions
    Label: Belmondo   Catalog: 53 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Samuel Barber,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
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  • 42.
    French Classics / Butt, London SO
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 6188 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Conductor:  Yondani Butt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 43.
    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,  Hĺkan Hagegĺrd,  Thomas Quasthoff,  Elisabeth Leonskaja
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 44.
    Debussy: La Mer; Nocturnes / Barenboim, Orchestre De Paris
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001739602 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
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  • 45.
    Colours Of A Flute
    Label: Cd Accord   Catalog: 179 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Francis Poulenc,  Olivier Messiaen,  Jacques Ibert  ... 
    Performer:  Urszula Janik,  Joanna Kaczmarska-Biezynska
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  • 46.
    Claude Debussy: Musique De Chambre
    Label: Indesens   Catalog: 40 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Vincent Lucas,  Lise Berthaud,  Marie-Pierre Langlamet,  Nicolas Prost  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic String Quintet
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  • 47.
    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
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  • 48.
    Debussy: Preludes Books 1 & 2 / Alexei Lubimov
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 001695802 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Alexei Lubimov,  Alexei Zuev
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  • 49.
    Debussy: Sonate, Syrinx, Chansons De Bilitis, Etc / Bernold, Moretti, Causse, Jacob
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 501647 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Philippe Bernold,  Isabelle Moretti,  Gérard Caussé,  Irčne Jacob  ... 
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  • 50.
    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 Denčve
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  Women Of The Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus
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