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  • Chris Anderson

Composer Of The Month - Claude Debussy

This month we take a look at the life and works of French Impressionist composer, Claude Debussy.

Claude Debussy - Image from Wikipedia

Claude Debussy (born Achille-Claude Debussy) was a French composer who lived from August 22, 1862, to March 25, 1918. He is considered one of the most influential figures in the Impressionist music movement, a style that sought to evoke emotions and impressions through music, much like the Impressionist painters did with their art.

Debussy was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, and showed early musical talent. He entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10, where he studied music theory, piano, and composition. His early compositions were influenced by composers such as Richard Wagner and Jules Massenet.

In the late 1880s and 1890s, Debussy's style began to shift away from traditional harmonic and melodic conventions, and he started to embrace more innovative and experimental approaches to music. He explored new scales and harmonies, often using whole-tone and pentatonic scales, which gave his music a unique and dreamy quality. His use of non-traditional scales and extended harmonies became characteristic of the Impressionist style in music.

Some of Claude Debussy's most famous and influential works include:

  • "Clair de Lune" - The third movement of his “Suite Bergamasque” for piano, one of his most well-known and beloved pieces.

  • "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune" - A groundbreaking orchestral work that is often considered the start of the Impressionist movement in music.

  • "La Mer" - A symphonic seascape in three movements that depicts various aspects of the sea.

  • "Pelléas et Mélisande" - An opera based on Maurice Maeterlinck's play, representing a significant departure from traditional operatic styles.

  • "Children's Corner" - A suite for piano dedicated to his daughter, featuring playful and evocative pieces.

Debussy's innovative approach to harmony, texture, and musical form had a profound impact on later composers, such as Maurice Ravel and many 20th-century musicians. He remains a central figure in the history of Western classical music, and his works continue to be widely performed and admired to this day.

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