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
Brahms, Kodaly, Debussy, Tchaikovksy / Fournier, Holetschek
Release Date: 11/24/2009   Label: Orfeo  
Catalog: 798091   Number of Discs: 1
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Messiaen: Visions De L'amen; Debussy: En Blanc Et Noir
Release Date: 08/31/2010   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 119   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Complete Music for Piano Duo / Damerini, Rapetti
Release Date: 04/30/2013   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94448   Number of Discs: 3
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Debussy: Violin Sonata, Cello Sonata, Piano Trio / Trio Stradivari
Release Date: 04/29/2014   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94766   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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Work: String Quartet

Browse 51-69 of 69 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Classics- Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets/ Cleveland Quartet
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80111 Release Date: 11/26/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Atar Arad,  Peter Salaff,  Paul Katz,  Donald Weilerstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland String Quartet
    CD: $17.99
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  • 52.
    Historical - Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets / Borodin
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9980 Release Date: 04/23/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Rostislav Dubinsky,  Yaroslav Alexandrov,  Dimitri Shebalin,  Valentin Berlinsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borodin String Quartet
    CD: $14.99
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  • 53.
    Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets / Keller Quartet
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 389231 Release Date: 02/19/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  János Pilz,  András Keller,  Zoltán Gál,  Ottó Kertész
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Keller String Quartet
    CD: $9.99
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  • 54.
    Philips 50 - Debussy, Ravel / Quartetto Italiano
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 464699 Release Date: 01/15/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paolo Borciani,  Elisa Pegreffi,  Piero Farulli,  Franco Rossi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quartetto Italiano
    CD not available

  • 55.
    The Complete Chamber Music Of Claude Debussy
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3167 Release Date: 01/08/2002   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Lee Luvisi,  Anne-Marie McDermott,  Fred Sherry,  Joseph Silverstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center,  Orion String Quartet
    CD: $34.99
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  • 56.
    Debussy: La Mer, Syrinx... / Karajan, Richter...
    Label: Dg Panorama   Catalog: 469130 Release Date: 09/26/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Benjamin Britten,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli,  Sviatoslav Richter  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Herbert von Karajan,  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Melos String Quartet Stuttgart
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  • 57.
    Ginastera, Debussy: String Quartets /Bergonzi String Quartet
    Label: Fleur De Son   Catalog: 57920 Release Date: 08/17/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Hugo Wolf,  Alberto Ginastera
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergonzi String Quartet
    CD: $18.99
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  • 58.
    Grieg, Debussy: String Quartets / Vertavo String Quartet
    Label: Simax   Catalog: 1201 Release Date: 03/02/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Edvard Grieg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vertavo String Quartet
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  • 59.
    Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets, Clair De Lune / Guarneri
    Label: Rca Victrola   Catalog: 60909 Release Date: 07/13/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Guarneri String Quartet
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  • 60.
    Juilliard String Quartet - 50 Years Vol 4 - Debussy, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 62708 Release Date: 10/01/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Joel Krosnick,  Robert Mann,  Joel Smirnoff,  Samuel Rhodes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 61.
    Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets;  Fauré / Tokyo Quartet
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 62413 Release Date: 04/16/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  André Previn,  Feri Roth,  Joseph Schuster
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Roth Trio,  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 62.
    Haydn, Beethoven, Debussy: String Quartets / Végh Quartet
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 361941 Release Date: 11/16/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Sandor Végh,  Sandor Zöldy,  Georges Janzer,  Paul Szabo
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Végh String Quartet
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  • 63.
    Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets / Emerson String Quartet
    Label: Dg Masters   Catalog: 445509 Release Date: 09/19/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  David Finckel,  Philip Setzer,  Lawrence Dutton,  Eugene Drucker
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
    CD: $10.99
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  • 64.
    Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets / Alexander Quartet
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 512 Release Date: 08/18/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alexander String Quartet
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  • 65.
    Smetana & Debussy: String Quartets / Medici Quartet
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 5389 Release Date: 05/02/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana,  Claude Debussy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Medici String Quartet
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  • 66.
    Debussy, Ravel, Webern: String Quartets / Hagen Quartett
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 437836 Release Date: 03/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Webern,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hagen String Quartet
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  • 67.
    Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets, Etc / Kodaly Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550249 Release Date: 02/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gábor Fias,  János Devich,  Tamás Szabo,  Béla Kovács  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kodály String Quartet
    CD: $12.99
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  • 68.
    Debussy, Ravel, Dutilleux: String Quartets / Juilliard Quartet
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 52554 Release Date: 12/14/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henri Dutilleux,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
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  • 69.
    Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets / Carmina Quartet
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 75164 Release Date: 08/30/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Matthias Enderle,  Susanne Frank,  Wendy Champney,  Stephan Goerner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Carmina String Quartet
    CD not available

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Claude Debussy


WORKS
Debussy: La Mer, L.109 - 1. From Dawn Till Noon On The Sea (De l'aube à midi sur la mer)
Debussy: La Mer, L.109 - 2. Play Of The Waves (Jeux de vagues)
Debussy: La Mer, L.109 - 3. Dialogue Of The Wind And The Sea (Dialogue du vent et de la mer)
Debussy: String Quartet In G Minor, Op.10, L. 85 - 1. Animé et très décidé
Debussy: String Quartet in G minor, Op.10 - 2. Scherzo (Assez vif et bien rythmé)
Debussy: String Quartet in G minor, Op.10 - 3. Andantino doucement expressif
Debussy: String Quartet in G minor, Op.10 - 4. Très modéré - Très mouvementé - Très animé
Debussy: Children's Corner, L. 113 - 1. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
Debussy: Children's Corner, L.113 - 2. Jimbo's Lullaby
Debussy: Children's Corner, L. 113 - 3. Serenade For The Doll
Debussy: Children's Corner, L.113 - 4. The Snow Is Dancing
Debussy: Children's Corner, L. 113 - 5. The Little Shepherd
Debussy: Children's Corner, L. 113 - 6. Golliwogg's Cakewalk
Debussy: Images - Book 1 - 1. Reflets dans l'eau
Debussy: Images - Book 1 - 2. Hommage à Rameau
Debussy: Images - Book 1 - 3. Mouvement
Debussy: Images - Book 2 - 1. Cloches à travers les feuilles
Debussy: Images - Book 2 - 2. Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fût
Debussy: Images - Book 2 - 3. Poissons d'or
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 1. Danseuses de Delphes
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 2. Voiles
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 3. Le vent dans la plaine
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 4. Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 5. Les collines d'Anacapri
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 6. Des pas sur la neige
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 7. Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1, L.117 - 8. La fille aux cheveux de lin
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 9. La sérénade interrompue
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 10. La cathédrale engloutie
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 11. La danse de Puck
Debussy: Préludes - Book 1 - 12. Minstrels
1. Brouillards
2. Feuilles mortes
3. La puerta del vino
4. "Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses"
5. Bruyères
6. "General Lavine" - eccentric
7. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune
8. Ondine
9. Hommage à S. Pickwick, Esq., P.P.M.P.C.
10. Canope
11. Les tierces alternées
12. Feux d'artifice