Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy Biography
Atelier Nadar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Claude Debussy Biography

Claude Debussy (August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918) was a composer and important exponent of impressionist music. His contributions to the field of music were essential for the musical trends that emerged in the twentieth century. His father, Manuel-Achille Debussy, was the owner of a porcelain shop and also worked in the printing press of Paul Dupont. His mother was named Victorine Manoury.

His parents instilled in him a taste for opera. Thanks to his aunt Clementina Debussy, he received his first piano lessons. In addition, he began to learn to play violin with the help of Jean Cerutti, who instructed him in the rudiments of piano technique. However, for one year he prepared to take entrance exams to the Paris Conservatory, approving with solvency. There he had as teachers Lavignac, Marmontel and Ernest Guiraud.

By 1880, he was a chamber pianist and a personalized piano teacher of the sons of Nadezhda von Meck. He held this position for four years. Then, he traveled to Moscow. The prodigal son was the cantata worthy of the Prix de Rome. The young Debussy had no inclination for Roman classicism. On the contrary, he felt a great attraction to the cultural life of Paris. As part of his musical experiences (he learned the Gregorian chant, the African and Javanese melodies, presented at the Universal Exposition in Paris).

Thanks to the lyrical compositions for singing and piano, the evolution of the artist is perceived, so he leaned towards a melodic formalism, gentrified style, evocative prose such as Ariettes oubliées (1888), Five poems by Baudelaire (1890), Fêtes galantes (1904) ), Prosas líricas (1893) and Three songs of Bilitis (1898).

In a second stage, thanks to the creation of musical impressionism forged the dissolution of the classical forms made by the romanticism. He published two children’s works: The Corner of Children (1908), and Preludes (1910 and 1913) showed the balance of modern composition for piano. The above shows that Debussy is the initiator of current musical trends. In short, it is necessary to recognize their failures related to orchestral impressionism, despite the interest in the symphonic poems: The Sea (1905) and Images (1909), Nocturnes (1899).

Towards 1910 he had a new classicist orientation that reacted against the diffusion of impressionism, manifested in the restoration of phonics and even formal precision. Now, the First World War would end up strengthening its traditions of national civilization.

In the last phase of Debussy’s art, he published: The Martyrdom of San Sebastian (1911), where the elevation of musical values ​​is undermined by the hybrid character of the stage performance, neither opera nor ballet.

In 1893 he went to Ghent to create the music of Maeterlinck’s drama. In 1909 he was in London for the presentation of Pelléas. Then, he visited Vienna and Budapest, Turin, Russia, Holland, and Rome, he advanced several compositions. Surprisingly during his life, he lacked disciples. He frequently acted as a musical collaborator in literary magazines. He was operated because of intestinal cancer. He fell very seriously in 1918, his emotional health was very bad by the disasters of the First World War and his body could not stand it anymore, so he died on March 25, 1918.



Debussy: Orchestral Music.

Debussy: Piano Works, Volume 1.

Debussy: Complete piano music, volume 2.

Claude Debussy: Intégrale de l’oeuvre pour deux pianos et piano à quatre mains. Christian Ivaldi et Noël Lee.

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