Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy

1862 - 1918

Works in the repertoire

Claude Monet : Impression, sunrise



Claude Debussy was a French composer who straddled the 19th and 20th centuries. A free and non-conformist musician, Debussy has often been characterised as a musical impressionist, a label he has never accepted. His music gives pride of place to colour and instrumental timbre.

Debussy began his musical training at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied composition withErnest Guiraud and for a time with César Franck in his organ class. The student already revealed a complicated and elusive personality. In 1884, Debussy won the First Prix de Rome, but his stay at the Villa Medici was to be the breaking point with academism. Unable to bear his exile, the musician resigned after two years and returned to Paris where he led a bohemian life.

An admirer of Mallarmé and a regular visitor to his salons, Debussy was fascinated by symbolism. He was inspired by this movement in his music, notably Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune based on a poem by Mallarmé. The composer showed a musical audacity that was difficult to appreciate, for example with his opera Pelléas et Mélisande, which was at first very criticized before being celebrated and played throughout the world.

An artist with eclectic inspirations, he is notably seduced by Far Eastern music: pentatonic scale, whole tone scale**, thus creating a unique, elusive musical universe**.

Many of the great composers of the twentieth century have claimed Debussy's legacy, such as Pierre Boulez and Henri Dutilleux.

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