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

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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Schumann: Symphony No 4; Debussy: Le Martyre De St. Sebastien Suite / Cantelli
Release Date: 09/25/2012   Label: Ica Classics  
Catalog: 5081   Number of Discs: 1
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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 1: no 8, La fille aux cheveux de lin

Browse 226-250 of 255 Available Recordings
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  • 226.
    The Best Of Debussy
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8556663 Release Date: 02/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Klára Körmendi,  Péter Nagy
    Conductor:  Alexander Rahbari,  Keith Clark
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brussels Belgian Radio & TV Philharmonic Orchestra,  Kodály String Quartet,  Bratislava Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 227.
    Debussy, Ravel: Orchestral Music
    Label: Chesky Records   Catalog: 101 Release Date: 01/17/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Eric Hammerstein,  Georges Prêtre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Proms Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 228.
    Lullabies, Reveilles (And Siesta!) / Andrew Schulman
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2049 Release Date: 11/03/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Harrison,  Scott Joplin,  Claude Debussy,  Johann Pachelbel
    Performer:  Andrew Schulman
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  • 229.
    Parents - The Lullaby Album
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64897 Release Date: 10/12/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Tzimon Barto,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Christopher Parkening,  Nancy Allen  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson,  Sir Charles Groves,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Roger Wagner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 230.
    Christopher Parkening - The Great Recordings
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54905 Release Date: 09/14/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Joseph Brackett,  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Parkening,  David Brandon
    Conductor:  Andrew Litton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD not available
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  • 231.
    Virtuoso! A Treasury Of Favorite Violin Encores / Laredo
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 90153 Release Date: 08/31/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Fritz Kreisler,  George Gershwin,  Henri Wieniawski,  Maria Theresia Paradis  ... 
    Performer:  Margo Garrett,  Jaime Laredo
    CD: $17.99
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  • 232.
    Repertoire - Virtuoso Music For Cello / Janos Starker
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 8118 Release Date: 08/27/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  János Starker,  Shigeo Neriki
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  • 233.
    My First Recital / Ruth Laredo
    Label: Ess.a.y Recordings   Catalog: 1006 Release Date: 07/15/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Robert Schumann,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Ruth Laredo
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  • 234.
    Love Letters / David Shostac, Anita Swearengin
    Label: Crystal   Catalog: 314 Release Date: 06/15/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Grigoras Dinicu,  Theobald Boehm,  Claude Debussy,  Fernande Le Borne  ... 
    Performer:  Anita Swearingen,  David Shostac
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  • 235.
    Classics For Kids
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 61489 Release Date: 06/08/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Raymond Scott,  Maurice Ravel,  Johannes Brahms,  Heitor Villa-Lobos  ... 
    Performer:  Al Hirt,  Leo Litwin,  Martin Hoherman,  Samuel Lipman  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Eduardo Mata,  Morton Gould,  Georges Prêtre  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Dallas Symphony Orchestra,  Morton Gould Orchestra  ... 
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  • 236.
    Scintillation / Yolanda Kondanassis
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80361 Release Date: 05/25/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  George Gershwin,  Marcel Grandjany,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Stanley Konopka,  Wei-Fang Gu,  Martin Chalifour  ... 
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  • 237.
    The Artistry Of Christopher Parkening
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54853 Release Date: 05/11/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexandre Tansman,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Traditional,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Parkening
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  • 238.
    Leonidas Kavacos Plays Debussy, Kreisler, Paganini, Etc
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3116 Release Date: 12/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst,  Fritz Kreisler,  Henri Wieniawski,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Péter Nagy,  Leonidas Kavakos
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  • 239.
    The World Of The  Harp / Susann Mcdonald
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3005 Release Date: 12/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elias Parish Alvars,  Marcel Grandjany,  Albert Zabel,  Marcel Tournier  ... 
    Performer:  Susann McDonald
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  • 240.
    Debussy: Solo Piano Music Vol 1 / Peter Frankl
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5062 Release Date: 11/04/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Peter Frankl
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  • 241.
    French Music For Clarinet And Piano / De Peyer, Pryor
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8526 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Pierné,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Florent Schmitt  ... 
    Performer:  Gwenneth Pryor,  Gervase de Peyer
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  • 242.
    Virtuoso Cello Encores / Maria Kliegel, Raymund Havenith
    Label: Marco Polo   Catalog: 223403 Release Date: 10/26/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henri Vieuxtemps,  George Gershwin,  Jacques Offenbach,  Siegfried Barchet  ... 
    Performer:  Raimund Havenith,  Maria Kliegel
    CD not available
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  • 243.
    Piano Collection / Arrau, Pollini, Richter, Gelber Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67205 Release Date: 09/29/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Scott Joplin,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Isaac Albeniz  ... 
    Performer:  Marielle Labèque,  Katia Labèque,  Michel Béroff,  Jean-Philippe Collard  ... 
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  • 244.
    The World's Most Beautiful Melodies / Phillip Mccann
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 4501 Release Date: 07/29/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan,  Franz Schubert,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Iain Robertson,  Phillip McCann
    Conductor:  Major Peter Parkes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Black Dyke Mills Band
    CD: $11.99
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  • 245.
    Romantic Brass - Music Of France And Spain / Empire Brass
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80301 Release Date: 01/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joaquin Turina,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Isaac Albeniz  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Jensen,  Edward Flower
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Empire Brass
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  • 246.
    Van Cliburn - My Favorite Encores
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 60726 Release Date: 05/10/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Alexander Scriabin,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Van Cliburn
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  • 247.
    Encores / Itzhak Perlman, Samuel Sanders
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49514 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Flausino R. do Vale,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Henri Wieniawski,  Giuseppe Tartini  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Sanders,  Itzhak Perlman
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  • 248.
    Pops In Love / John Williams, Boston Pops
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 416361 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Johann Pachelbel,  Erik Satie,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Leone Buyse,  Alfred Genovese,  Richard Sebring,  Martha Babcock  ... 
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops
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  • 249.
    Rampal - Greatest Hits Vol 1
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 34561 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Alyabyev,  Antonio Bazzini,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Futabu Inoue,  Jean-Pierre Rampal
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  • 250.
    The Canadian Brass - More Greatest Hits
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 5628 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Thomas "Fats" Waller,  Gioachino Rossini,  Gerardo Matos Rodríguez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Canadian Brass
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