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
Nielsen, Debussy & Francaix: Clarinet Concertos / Soltan, Gomez, Hamburg Symphony
Release Date: 08/05/2016   Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)  
Catalog: 9011964   Number of Discs: 1
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Gunst & Debussy: Works for Violin & Piano / Lang, Denisova
Release Date: 08/12/2016   Label: Oehms  
Catalog: OC 1842   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Préludes, Book 1: no 8, La fille aux cheveux de lin

Browse 1-25 of 209 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Piano Daydreams / Argerich, Barenboim, Lang
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: B002529802 Release Date: 08/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Marc Luisada,  Dino Ciani,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $6.99
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  • 2.
    100 Best Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556480 Release Date: 08/05/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Barry Tuckwell,  Mikhail Rudy,  Maria-Joao Pires  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Kent Nagano,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Alberto Lysy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Lysy,  St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 3.
    Fanfares pour cuivres
    Label: Indesens   Catalog: 80 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Paul Dukas,  Henri Tomasi,  Albert Roussel,  André Jolivet  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Becquet,  Thierry Caens,  Frederick Talgorn
    CD: $18.99
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  • 4.
    20 Most Beautiful Classical Pieces
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556102 Release Date: 06/17/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Christian Zacharias,  David Fray,  Fabio Biondi,  Natalie Dessay  ... 
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  André Cluytens,  Riccardo Muti,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 5.
    40 Most Beautiful Classical Pieces
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556099 Release Date: 06/17/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Samson François,  Maria Tipo,  Martha Argerich,  Dmitri Alexeev  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  William Christie,  John E. Gardiner,  David Zinman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants,  Emmanuelle Haďm (Conductor/Harpsichord),  Le Concert D'Astrée  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 6.
    Debussy: String Quartet - Takemitsu: Nostalghia / Scottish Ensemble
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 512 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Toru Takemitsu
    Performer:  Alastair Savage,  Sharron Griffiths,  Ben Norris,  Laura Comini  ... 
    Conductor:  Jonathan Morton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Ensemble
    CD: $19.99
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  • 7.
    Anne Akiko Meyers: The Complete RCA Recordings
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88875165752 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Antonín Dvorák,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Anne Akiko Meyers,  Li Jian,  Rohan De Silva,  Andre-Michel Schub  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Litton,  Dmitrij Kitajenko,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $22.99
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  • 8.
    Pour le piano / Amaike [CD + DVD]
    Label: Pro Piano   Catalog: 224531 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alexander Scriabin,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Chizuko Amaike
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  • 9.
    Yehudi Menuhin: The Complete American Victor Recordings
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 519854 Release Date: 05/06/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Edouard Lalo,  Max Bruch,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Adolf Baller,  Wanda Landowska,  Carroll Hollister  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch,  Antal Doráti,  George Enescu
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $34.98
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  • 10.
    The Menuhin Century: Luxury Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555050 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 91
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen,  Artur Balsam,  Marcel Gazelle  ... 
    Conductor:  Landon Ronald,  Pierre Monteux,  Jean Fournet,  Anatole Fistoulari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $250.99
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  • 11.
    The Menuhin Century: The Historic Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555052 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonín Dvorák,  Niccolň Paganini  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Gerald Moore,  George Enescu,  David Oistrakh  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Edward Elgar,  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire  ... 
    On sale! $54.98
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  • 12.
    The Menuhin Century: The Virtuoso & His Landmark Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555054 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Antonio Bazzini,  Antonín Dvorák,  Johannes Brahms,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Marcel Gazelle,  Ferguson Webster,  Artur Balsam  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  Sir Colin Davis,  John Pritchard,  Efrem Kurtz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $38.99
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  • 13.
    The Menuhin Century: Unpublished Recordings & Rarities
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555051 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen,  Artur Balsam,  Marcel Gazelle  ... 
    Conductor:  Landon Ronald,  Pierre Monteux,  Jean Fournet,  Anatole Fistoulari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $67.49
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  • 14.
    Yehudi: The Art of Menuhin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554924 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Giovanni Battista Viotti,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Paul Cocker,  Hephzibah Menuhin,  Louis Kentner  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Lysy,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Efrem Kurtz,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bath Festival Orchestra,  Robert Masters Chamber Orchestra,  Camerata Lysy  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 15.
    Label: Compass Productions   Catalog: 52954 Release Date: 02/05/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  George Frideric Handel,  Erik Satie,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    CD: $13.99
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  • 16.
    Encores
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552536 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Fritz Kreisler,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Paul Ben-Haim,  Henri Wieniawski  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Sanders,  Itzhak Perlman
    CD: $15.99
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  • 17.
    Itzhak Perlman: The Complete Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552439 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 77
    Composer:  Niccolň Paganini,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Ray Still,  Samuel Sanders  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Foster,  Daniel Barenboim,  Itzhak Perlman,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $274.99
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  • 18.
    Preludes & Rhapsodies
    Label: Fidelio Musique   Catalog: 49 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  George Gershwin,  Johannes Brahms
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buzz Ensemble
    CD: $18.99
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  • 19.
    Jascha Heifetz: Favorite Recital Pieces & Encores
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88875051042 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Howard Ferguson,  Karen Khachaturian,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Brooks Smith
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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    Preludes / John Roney
    Label: Effendi   Catalog: 138 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Gershwin,  Claude Debussy,  Edward "Duke" Ellington  ... 
    Performer:  John Roney
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  • 22.
    100 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002188102 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Edvard Grieg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Lorin Maazel,  Neeme Järvi,  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Neeme Järvi,  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theater Violin Ensemble,  Ansbach Bach Week Soloists Union,  Salzburg Mozarteum Camerata Academica  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 23.
    Piano Encores / Jorge Bolet
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 002126902 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Leopold Godowsky  ... 
    Performer:  Jorge Bolet
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  • 24.
    James Galway - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 302633 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Arthur Smith,  Various,  Traditional,  Stan Lebowsky  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Sylvia,  Marisa Robles,  Phillip Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Galway Pops Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $199.98
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  • 25.
    Thunder!
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 51170 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elgar Howarth,  John Stevens,  Charles-Marie Widor,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sonus Brass
    CD: $9.99
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