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, Ravel: Music for Two Pianos / Ashkenazys
Release Date: 08/25/2009   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 001312902   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Favorite Piano Works / Tamás Vásáry
Release Date: 10/14/2003   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 000125602   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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Debussy: The Solo Piano Works / Noriko Ogawa
Release Date: 01/31/2012   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1955   Number of Discs: 6
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Works By Debussy, Francaix, Glinka, Milhaud & Prokofiev / Bliss, Moore
Release Date: 08/12/2014   Label: Signum U.k.  
Catalog: 384   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Préludes, Book 2

Browse 51-75 of 95 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Legato - The World of the Piano / Marc-André Hamelin
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2055788 Release Date: 12/04/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin
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  • 52.
    Spencer Myer Plays
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907477 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferruccio Busoni,  Aaron Copland,  Ellis B. Kohs,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Spencer Myer
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  • 53.
    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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  • 54.
    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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  • 55.
    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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  • 56.
    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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  • 57.
    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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  • 58.
    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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  • 59.
    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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  • 60.
    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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  • 61.
    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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  • 62.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Music Vol 1 / Bennett Lerner
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9186 Release Date: 03/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Bennett Lerner
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  • 63.
    Debussy: Preludes, Book 2
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637528525 Release Date: 03/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
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  • 64.
    Debussy: Piano Music Vol 3 / Noriko Ogawa
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1355 Release Date: 02/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Noriko Ogawa
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  • 65.
    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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  • 66.
    Debussy: Complete Piano Works / Jean-pierre Armengaud
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47840 Release Date: 12/27/2005   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Armengaud
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  • 67.
    Debussy: Preludes For Piano / Melvyn Tan
    Label: Deux-elles   Catalog: 1092 Release Date: 09/27/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Melvyn Tan
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  • 68.
    Debussy: Preludes I & II / Pascal Rogé
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4004 Release Date: 09/13/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé
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  • 69.
    Debussy: Preludes Books 1 & 2 / Greenfield
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2693/4 Release Date: 11/30/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Elaine Greenfield
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  • 70.
    Claude Debussy: Preludes Pour Piano
    Label: Tacet   Catalog: 131 Release Date: 10/01/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
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  • 71.
    Claudio Arrau - An Anniversary Tribute
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 473461 Release Date: 06/10/2003   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau,  Arthur Grumiaux
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle
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  • 72.
    Mozart, Beethoven, Et Al / Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000001602 Release Date: 04/08/2003   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Cord Garben
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hamburg
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  • 73.
    Debussy: Piano Works Vol 1 / Jean-pierre Armengaud
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47576 Release Date: 03/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Armengaud
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  • 74.
    Debussy: Complete Preludes And Etudes / Fou Ts'ong
    Label: Meridian Records   Catalog: 84483 Release Date: 02/04/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Fou Ts'ong
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  • 75.
    Debussy: Preludes / Hans Henkemans
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4683112 Release Date: 11/19/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Hans Henkemans
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