Thursday, June 17, 2010

Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy is often credited with being a pioneer in "Impressionist" music, but it is scarcely fitting to label his music without having any introduction to this unique composer's background, his environment (personally and historically), as well as his personality. He was born in France in 1862, and went on to become one of the most popular composers EVER. Believe me, many people who have never given classical music a listen still know who Debussy is. (Is this because of his music's demeaning appearance in Twilight? Perhaps). Anyways, the music of Debussy "established a new concept of tonality in European music," according to Réti. He not only deviated from the more Romantic tonal styles of his time, but he also helped move the classical music scene into the Modernist era. This is primarily because he wanted to, as Ezra Pound put it, "make it new."

Here, in Debussy's own words, is this shown:

"I am trying to do 'something different' -- an effect of reality... what the imbeciles call 'impressionism', a term which is as poorly used as possible, particularly by the critics, since they do not hesitate to apply it to Turner, the finest creator of mysterious effects in all the world of art."

Hmmm, mysterious all the world of art... I like that. I love his piano music, and am here posting it in it's entirety, but nearly all of his compositions give off the innocent feel of a child searching for a hidden world far away from the playground. In his préludes especially, which are among some of my favorite pieces in all classical piano music, I am reminded of the dreaminess of childhood. I often associate this feeling with trying to recall a dream, or attempting to recreate one that I really liked as accurately as possible. It's a journey... My favorite is La fille aux cheveux de lin, The Girl With Flaxen Hair. The feeling I get while I listen to that piece is indescribable, like articulating something that doesn't exist in the world of words.

In the end, Debussy's music is marvelous - not to be trivialized or commercialized, but also not overlooked.

Piano Music

Walter Gieseking plays Debussy - 24 Préludes

Claude Debussy's Préludes are two sets of pieces for solo piano. They are divided into two separate livres, or books, of twelve preludes each. These beautiful pieces of music were written between 1909 and 1913.


1. Danseuses de Delphes (Dancers of Delphi)
2. Voiles (Veils or sails)
3. Le vent dans la plaine (The Wind in the Plain
4. Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (The sounds and fragrances swirl through the evening air)
5. Les collines d'Anacapri (The Hills of Anacapri)
6. Des pas sur la neige (Footsteps in the Snow)
7. Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest (What the West Wind has seen)
8. La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair)
9. La sérénade interrompue (Interrupted Serenade)
10.La cathédrale engloutie (The Engulfed Cathedral)
11. La danse de Puck (Puck's Dance)
12. Minstrels
13. Brouillards (Mists)
14. Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves)
15. La puerta del Vino (The Wine Gate)
16. Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses ("Fairies are exquisite dancers")
17. Bruyères (Heather)
18. Général Lavine
19. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune (The Terrace of Moonlit Audiences)
20. Ondine (Undine)
21. Hommage à S. Pickwick
22. Canope (Canopic jar)
23. Les tierces alternées (Alternating Thirds)
24. Feux d'artifice (Fireworks)

12 Études and various other pieces


Images, Estampes, 3 Pieces for the Piano, and Children's Corner


Suite Bergamasque (Clair de lune) and various other pieces



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