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: Arabesques, Clair de Lune, Golliwogg's Cakewalk / Ronan O'Hora
Release Date: 06/14/2011   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 29040   Number of Discs: 1
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Gershwin, Ravel, Debussy / O'Riley, Wordsworth, Royal PO
Release Date: 08/11/2009   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28050   Number of Discs: 1
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Les Amis - Debussy, Caplet / Elizabeth Hainen
Release Date: 11/12/2013   Label: Avie  
Catalog: 2285   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: 12 Etudes / Mitsuko Uchida
Release Date: 07/04/2006   Label: Philips  
Catalog: 000701102   Number of Discs: 1
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Works For Clarinet And Orchestra By Rossini, Busoni, Debussy, Nielsen / Benda
Release Date: 01/01/2008   Label: Genuin Musikproduction  
Catalog: 88128   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Préludes, Book 1

Browse 51-75 of 108 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Piano Works By Debussy And Ravel / Marita Viitasalo
    Label: Ondine   Catalog: ODE723 Release Date: 12/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Marita Viitasalo
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  • 52.
    Icon - Alfred Cortot - The Master Pianist
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17304 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Alfred Cortot,  Jacques Thibaud,  Pablo Casals
    Conductor:  Alfred Cortot
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pablo Casals Orchestra
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  • 53.
    Debussy: Préludes, Images, Children's Corner / Michelangeli
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 449438 Release Date: 08/26/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
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  • 54.
    The Master Pianist / Youri Egorov
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 06531 Release Date: 06/10/2008   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Youri Egorov
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 55.
    Debussy: Preludes Books 1 & 2 / Ivan Ilic
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637332321 Release Date: 06/03/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Ivan Ilic
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  • 56.
    Koroliov Series Vol. Vii - Debussy: Preludes
    Label: Tacet   Catalog: 131 Release Date: 04/20/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Yevgeny Koroliov
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  • 57.
    Debussy: Preludes For Piano Books 1 & 2 / Casadesus
    Label: Cbs Masterworks Portrait   Catalog: 45688 Release Date: 03/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Robert Casadesus
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  • 58.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Music Vol. 4 / Bennett Lerner
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9247 Release Date: 02/19/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Claude Debussy,  Manuel de Falla,  Paul Dukas
    Performer:  Bennett Lerner
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  • 59.
    Debussy: Preludes Book 1 & 2 / Bruno Canino
    Label: Stradivarius   Catalog: 33364 Release Date: 02/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Bruno Canino
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  • 60.
    Debussy: Integrale Piano Inachevee / Samson Francois
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 575434 Release Date: 01/13/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Samson François
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  • 61.
    Debussy: Preludes Book 1; Chopin, Scarlatti / Michelangeli
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 01896 Release Date: 11/06/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Domenico Scarlatti,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
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  • 62.
    Simply Debussy
    Label: Union Square   Catalog: 1205644 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Yuji Takahashi,  Alain Plančs,  Jacques Rouvier  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean Fournet,  Emmanuel Krivine,  Eliahu Inbal
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  • 63.
    Claudio Arrau Edition - Debussy
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 432304 Release Date: 09/11/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau
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  • 64.
    Debussy & Ravel / Monique Haas
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 284668 Release Date: 08/21/2007   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Monique Haas
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  • 65.
    Debussy: Preludes;  Liszt / Jorge Federico Osorio
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 98 Release Date: 07/10/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jorge Federico Osorio
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  • 66.
    Debussy: Complete Works For Piano Vol 1 / Bavouzet
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10421 Release Date: 06/26/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
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  • 67.
    Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Vol 2
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 223500 Release Date: 04/17/2007   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Edvard Grieg,  Baldassare Galuppi  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Hermann Scherchen,  Mario Rossi,  Jindrich Rohan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Switzerland Radio/TV Orchestra,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra
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  • 68.
    Liszt: Sonata In B Minor; Debussy: Preludes, Book 1
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637291708 Release Date: 02/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoe Erisman
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  • 69.
    Debussy: Piano Works Vol 3 / Roy Howat
    Label: Symposium   Catalog: 164 Release Date: 12/26/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Roy Howat
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  • 70.
    Debussy: Preludes, Ballade, Etc / Francine Kay
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 23135 Release Date: 10/26/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Francine Kay
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  • 71.
    Debussy: Preludes / Steven Osborne
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67530 Release Date: 10/10/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Steven Osborne
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  • 72.
    Monique Haas - Complete DG Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 689502 Release Date: 08/08/2006   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Marcel Mihalovici,  Maurice Ravel,  Béla Bartók,  Albert Roussel  ... 
    Performer:  Monique Haas,  Max Rostal,  Heinz Schröter
    Conductor:  Paul Hindemith,  Paul Paray,  Ferenc Fricsay,  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  French National Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 73.
    Alfred Cortot - The Late Recordings Vol 2
    Label: Apr (Appian)   Catalog: 5572 Release Date: 05/09/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Alfred Cortot
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  • 74.
    Collectors Edition - Debussy: Piano Music;  Ravel / Kocsis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000623702 Release Date: 04/11/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoltán Kocsis
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
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  • 75.
    Debussy: 24 Preludes For Piano / Anker Blyme
    Label: Danacord   Catalog: 505 Release Date: 02/01/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Anker Blyme
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