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
Messiaen: Visions De L'amen;  Debussy: En Blanc Et Noir / Van Raat, Austbo
Release Date: 04/24/2012   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572472   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Orchestral Works, Vol. 5 / Markl, Orchestra National De Lyon
Release Date: 02/22/2011   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572568   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Orchestral Works Vol 6 / Markl, Orchestra National De Lyon
Release Date: 05/31/2011   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572583   Number of Discs: 1
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Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring - Debussy: La Mer / Raat
Release Date: 01/12/2018   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573576   Number of Discs: 1
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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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Work: Préludes, Book 1: no 10, La cathédrale engloutie

Browse 26-50 of 93 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Boesendorfer Sound / Carol Rosenberger
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3460 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard R. Bennett,  Franz Liszt,  Enrique Granados,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Carol Rosenberger
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  • 27.
    Jorge Bolet - The Last Romantic
    Label: Imports   Catalog: 1037610 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Felix Mendelssohn,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Jorge Bolet
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  • 28.
    Pianist Lost, Volume 2: Sunken Cathedrals [includes Blu-ray audio]
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1205 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Valentin Alkan,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Halstead
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  • 29.
    50 Best Chillout Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 332942 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Gregorio Allegri,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Gerald Finley,  Juliette Hurel,  Emmanuel Pahud,  Christopher Warren-Green  ... 
    Conductor:  Maurice Handford,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Stephen Cleobury,  Yannick Nézet-Séguin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Ahn Trio,  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 30.
    Alfred Cortot: Anniversary Edition
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 4907 Release Date: 11/19/2012   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Isaac Albeniz,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Alfred Cortot,  Pablo Casals,  Jacques Thibaud,  Charles Panzera  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  International String Quartet
    CD: $126.99
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  • 31.
    Circus & Magic / Zarins
    Label: Champs Hill Records   Catalog: 48 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Prokofiev,  György Ligeti,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Reinis Zarins
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  • 32.
    Harriet Cohen - Complete Solo Studio Recordings
    Label: Apr   Catalog: 7304 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Hubert Bath,  Arnold Bax  ... 
    Performer:  Harriet Cohen
    Conductor:  Sir Henry Wood,  Walter Susskind,  Hubert Bath,  Muir Mathieson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 33.
    Claire De Lune - Debussy Favorites
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001675502 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  James Earl Barnes,  Timothy Hutchins,  Vera Badings,  Zoltán Kocsis  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Bernard Haitink,  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 34.
    The Britannic Organ, Vol  3 - Welte Philharmonic Organ
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 841 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Lowell Mason,  Arthur Sullivan,  John Bacchus Dykes  ... 
    Performer:  David Rumsey,  Joseph Bonnet,  Bernard Ten Cate,  Marco Enrico Bossi  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 35.
    Music & Painters - Music Of The Era Of Monet, Chagall, Courbet & Picasso
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5283 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Ernest Chausson  ... 
    Performer:  Anne Gastinel,  Daniel Blumenthal,  Marie-Nicole Lemieux,  Noel Lee  ... 
    Conductor:  Dmitry Yablonsky,  Christoph Eschenbach,  Alain Lombard,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kasbek Ensemble,  Russian State Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 36.
    Wild Blue Yonder / United States Air Force Band
    Label: Altissimo   Catalog: 61482 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Barnes,  Claude Debussy,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Michael Mogensen  ... 
    Conductor:  Dennis M. Layendecker
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Band
    CD: $17.99
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  • 37.
    Essential Harp
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94907 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Francesco Petrini,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Marielle Nordmann,  Julia Thornton,  Markus Klinko,  Ann Griffiths  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-Jacques Kantorow,  Erno Olah,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos,  Theodor Guschelbauer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris National Opera Orchestra,  Ensemble Instrumental Sinfonia
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  • 38.
    The Debussy Experience
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 79230 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Philippe Jouvet,  Monique Haas,  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Eric Tappy  ... 
    Conductor:  Alain Lombard,  Armin Jordan,  James Conlon
    CD: $17.99
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  • 39.
    Colin Matthews: The Debussy Preludes / Elder, Halle Orchestra
    Label: Hallé   Catalog: 7527 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Colin Matthews
    Conductor:  Mark Elder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
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  • 40.
    Debussy: 16 Preludes / Jorge Bolet
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802026 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jorge Bolet
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  • 41.
    Les Musiques De Claude Monet
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5255 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Ernest Chausson  ... 
    Performer:  Anne Gastinel,  Marie-Nicole Lemieux,  Daniel Blumenthal,  Noel Lee  ... 
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  • 42.
    Programs, Vol. 4: The Bells
    Label: Telos   Catalog: 75 Release Date: 10/26/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Michael Gielen,  Stefan Litwin,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Stefan Litwin,  David Moss
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  • 43.
    50 Best Adagios
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 57489 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Pachelbel,  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Giovanni Scaramuzzino,  Véronique Gens,  David Daniels,  Steven Isserlis  ... 
    Conductor:  Ian Watson,  Andrew Parrott,  Christopher Warren-Green,  Fabio Biondi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Taverner Consort,  Seminario Musicale  ... 
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  • 44.
    Voyage a Paris / Greg McCallum
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1233 Release Date: 03/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Claude Debussy,  César Franck,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Greg McCallum
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  • 45.
    2006 Midwest Clinic
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 5637566858 Release Date: 11/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emil Waldteufel,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Henry Fillmore,  Alberto Ginastera  ... 
    Conductor:  Dennis M. Layendecker
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Band
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  • 46.
    Debussy: Jeux, Preludes;  Matthews: Postlude / Elder, Halle Orchestra
    Label: Hallé   Catalog: 7518 Release Date: 05/12/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Colin Matthews
    Conductor:  Mark Elder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
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  • 47.
    Debussy Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 742561 Release Date: 03/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paul Crossley
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Louis Lane,  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $6.99
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  • 48.
    The Welte-mignon Mystery, Vol. 12 - Debussy, Ravel
    Label: Tacet   Catalog: 166 Release Date: 03/15/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    CD: $21.49
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  • 49.
    Homage To Debussy / Eric Himy
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2968 Release Date: 11/25/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Eric Himy
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  • 50.
    Jiří Kylián's Car Men
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 102101 Release Date: 05/27/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Claude Debussy
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