Claude Debussy


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
Rameau: Nouvelles Suites;  Debussy / Alexandre Tharaud
Release Date: 02/12/2002   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 901754   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Sonate, Syrinx, Chansons De Bilitis, Etc / Bernold, Moretti, Causse, Jacob
Release Date: 07/10/2012   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 501647   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande / Maazel, Pilou, Guy, Et Al
Release Date: 06/12/2007   Label: Opera D'oro  
Catalog: 1473   Number of Discs: 3
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Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande / Maazel, Pilou, Guy, Et Al
Release Date: 02/12/2008   Label: Opera D'oro  
Catalog: 7047   Number of Discs: 3
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Debussy, Poulenc: Cello Sonatas / Jean-guihen Queyras, Alexandre Tharaud
Release Date: 10/14/2008   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 902012   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Préludes, Book 1: no 8, La fille aux cheveux de lin

Browse 26-50 of 187 Available Recordings
1 2 3 ... 7 8
  • 26.
    Dimensions - Works For String Orchestra
    Label: Navona   Catalog: 5895 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gregory Hutter,  Louis Babin,  Reynard Burns,  Andrew March  ... 
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  • 27.
    Fifty Shades Of Emotions
    Label: Belmondo   Catalog: 53 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Samuel Barber,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
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  • 28.
    Heifetz In Performance
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 199846 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
    DVD: $11.99
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  • 29.
    The Best Classical Piano Ever!
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 04748 Release Date: 09/18/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt,  Gabriel Fauré,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  John Ogdon,  André Watts,  Aldo Ciccolini,  Cécile Ousset  ... 
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
    CD: $8.99
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  • 30.
    Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Classical Album
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 78466 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Johann Pachelbel,  Thomas Tallis,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Samson François,  Arleen Augér,  José Luis Garcia,  Peter Barley  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yan Pascal Tortelier,  Stephen Cleobury  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cellos of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Cellos,  Les Violons du Roy
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  • 31.
    Zino Francescatti - A Treasury Of Studio Recordings 1931-1955
    Label: Music & Arts   Catalog: 1260 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ernest Chausson,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Casadesus,  Zino Francescatti,  Artur Balsam,  Max Lanner  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Guilet String Quartet,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 32.
    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  ... 
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  • 33.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 34.
    Chanson Dans La Nuit / Jitka Hosprova, Katerina Englichova
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4089 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Marin Marais  ... 
    Performer:  Jitka Hosprová,  Katerina Englichova
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  • 35.
    Michael Rabin - The Unpublished Recordings
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1470 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johannes Brahms,  Max Bruch,  John Alden Carpenter  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Rabin
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  • 36.
    Rudolf Ganz Am Klavier Und Als Dirigent
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2377 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt,  Adolf Jensen,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Rudolf Ganz
    Conductor:  Rudolf Ganz
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  • 37.
    Hsia-jung Chang Plays Debussy
    Label: Mandala Studio   Catalog: 5637874563 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Hsia-Jung Chang
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  • 38.
    The Art Of Luigi Alberto Bianchi
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 690 Release Date: 11/22/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Antonio Bazzini,  Niccolò Paganini,  Fritz Kreisler,  Pablo de Sarasate  ... 
    Performer:  Aldo Arvieto,  Luigi A. Bianchi,  Maruizio Preda,  Bruno Canino  ... 
    Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte
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  • 39.
    Label: X5 Music Group   Catalog: 109 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Pietro Mascagni,  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Finghin Collins,  Craig Ogden,  Pieter Schoeman,  Peter Schmalfuss  ... 
    Conductor:  Heribert Beissel,  David Parry,  Ilmar Lapinsch,  Klaus Arp  ... 
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  • 40.
    Piano Dreams / Avis Romm
    Label: Opening Day   Catalog: 7411 Release Date: 08/16/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Avis Romm
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  • 41.
    Debussy: Arabesques, Clair de Lune, Golliwogg's Cakewalk / Ronan O'Hora
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks   Catalog: 29040 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Ronan O'Hora
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  • 42.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 6 - 1946-1947
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61737 Release Date: 04/21/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,  Maurice Ravel,  Nikolai Medtner  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  Stanley Chaloupka
    Conductor:  Franz Waxman,  William Steinberg,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Chamber Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 43.
    All Directions
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 91181 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Lennon,  Claude Debussy,  Jan Koetsier,  Leonhard Paul  ... 
    Performer:  Trombone Attraction
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trombone Attraction
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  • 44.
    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: $16.99

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  • 45.
    Bonjour Paris / Albrecht Mayer, Academy Of St. Martin Of The Fields
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001522502 Release Date: 02/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Jean Françaix,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Albrecht Mayer
    Conductor:  Matthias Mönius,  Gotthard Odermatt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
    CD: $17.99
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  • 46.
    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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  • 47.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 648500 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Katia Labèque,  Marielle Labèque,  Moura Lympany  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Riccardo Muti,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 48.
    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
    CD: $12.99
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  • 49.
    Jorge Bolet - The Romantic Virtuoso
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001479502 Release Date: 10/05/2010   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Paul de Schlözer,  Isaac Albeniz,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Jorge Bolet
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Iván Fischer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $39.99
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  • 50.
    Poetes Du Piano
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4057 Release Date: 08/10/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Frédéric Chopin,  Francis Poulenc,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé
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