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: Piano Music / Hough
Release Date: 01/05/2018   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 68139   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Complete Works For Orchestra / Yan Pascal Tortelier
Release Date: 01/20/2004   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10144   Number of Discs: 4
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The Best Of Debussy
Release Date: 02/15/1994   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8556663   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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Debussy: Complete Works For Piano Vol 1 / Bavouzet
Release Date: 06/26/2007   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10421   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Préludes, Book 1

Browse 1-25 of 107 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Debussy: Preludes / Zimerman [Vinyl]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4798520 Release Date: 03/09/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman
    LP: $44.49
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  • 2.
    Debussy: 24 Preludes / Gulda
    Label: Mps   Catalog: 300973 Release Date: 03/02/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Friedrich Gulda
    CD: $22.49
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  • 3.
    Debussy: 24 Preludes / Gulda [Vinyl]
    Label: Mps   Catalog: 0301022MSW Release Date: 03/02/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Friedrich Gulda
    LP: $24.99
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  • 4.
    Debussy: Piano Music / Lasry
    Label: Arcana   Catalog: 445 Release Date: 02/16/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Stany David Lasry
    CD: $27.49
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  • 5.
    Debussy: Piano Works / Barenboim
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002788802 Release Date: 01/26/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
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  • 6.
    Debussy: Preludes & Children's Corner / Jumppanen
    Label: Ondine   Catalog: 1304 Release Date: 01/12/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paavali Jumppanen
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  • 7.
    Debussy: The Complete Works
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 565660 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini,  Cécile Ousset,  Michel Béroff,  Samson François  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  François-Xavier Roth,  Armin Jordan,  Jean Martinon  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quatuor Ebène,  Nash Ensemble,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 8.
    Decca Sound: The Piano Edition
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4832243 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Julius Katchen,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  André Previn  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Bernard Haitink,  André Previn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $210.99
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  • 9.
    Debussy: Preludes, Books 1 & 2 / Brownridge
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72727 Release Date: 11/10/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Angela Brownridge
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  • 10.
    Sviatoslav Richter: Live at Carnegie Hall 1960
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985395212 Release Date: 10/27/2017   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter
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  • 11.
    Debussy: The Complete Piano Works / Gieseking
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563136 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking,  Geraint Jones
    CD: $14.99
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  • 12.
    Maurizio Pollini: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002578510 Release Date: 11/18/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Arnold Schoenberg  ... 
    Performer:  Maurizio Pollini,  Andreas Esders,  Gabriele Lechner,  Gretchen Eder  ... 
    Conductor:  Christian Thielemann,  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung  ... 
    CD: $254.49
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  • 13.
    The Golden Era of Living Stereo: Remastered Collector's Edition
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 532174 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Pietro Nardini,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Stuart Sankey,  Ania Dorfmann,  Leonid Kogan,  Andrei Mitnik  ... 
    Conductor:  Howard Mitchell,  Arthur Fiedler,  Arturo Basile,  Robert Shaw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Festival Quartet,  Portland Symphonic Choir,  Choir Of The Abbey Of Mount Angel  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 14.
    Debussy: Preludes, Images & Nocturne / Ammara
    Label: Pinao Classics   Catalog: 0110 Release Date: 09/30/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Alessandra Ammara
    CD: $17.99
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  • 15.
    Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002559502 Release Date: 09/23/2016   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    CD: $61.49
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  • 16.
    Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se respondent / Erny
    Label: Solo Musica   Catalog: 238 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Christian Erny
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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    Ravel & Debussy: Piano Works / Tarasevich-Nikolaev
    Label: Acousence Classics   Catalog: 12616 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev
    CD: $17.99
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  • 20.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Paris Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 21.
    Debussy: Preludes, Premier Livre
    Label: Bongiovanni   Catalog: 5186 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Sandro Baldi
    CD: $17.99
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  • 22.
    Starry Night - Debussy / Lewin
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 92190 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michael Lewin
    CD: $24.99
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  • 23.
    111 - The Piano - Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002281002 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Géza Anda,  Martha Argerich,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 24.
    Debussy
    Label: Maguelone   Catalog: 111192 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Marguerite Long
    Performer:  Pascal Gallet
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  • 25.
    Debussy: Preludes
    Label: Neos   Catalog: 21303 Release Date: 09/30/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gilead Mishory
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