Claude Debussy

Topics: Impressionist music, Impressionism, Maurice Ravel Pages: 5 (1722 words) Published: May 16, 2013
Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy was one of the greatest composers of impressionistic music and considered by many one of the greatest composers of all time. He had a genius mind and portrayed that through his music. He was a man of deep thoughts and showed great emotion through his music. “Although Debussy rarely appeared in public, only to perform, and left behind no pupils, it is clear that Debussy has many imitators (Debussyistes, as they were known), and his death was widely mourned throughout the musical world. Debussy’s works has influenced many new and modern music.

The French composer Claude Debussy was born in 1862, the oldest out of five children. He died in 1918. Debussy was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. “He was born during the American Civil War and died a few months before the end of WWI, yet he is widely regarded as the first great composer of the 20th century” (Bonds). Debussy and his family later moved to Paris. He was born to Manuel-Achille Debussy and Victorine Manoury Debussy. His father “ran a shop where he sold china and crockery and had a hard time making ends meet” (Lockspeiser). His mother was a seamstress.

At age seven, “Debussy began piano lessons with an Italian violinist named Cerutti and was admitted to the Paris Conservatory at the age of 10” (Lockspeiser). He was accompanied with great composers such as Tchaikovsky and Meck. He traveled to places such as Europe and Russia. He furthered his studies in Rome after “receiving a scholarship to the Académie des Beaux-Arts” (Lockspeiser). “He held no formal posts after his youth, appeared in public only sporadically as a pianist or conductor, and left behind no direct pupils” (Bonds). Nevertheless, Debussy pieces were wildly known and still growing in popularity today. “His death was widely mourned throughout the musical world” (Bonds).

Debussy was a composer of the Romantic Era. “The keynote of the personality of Claude Debussy is struck at the outset of a sketch of his life and work by recording his intrinsic love of liberty and freedom” (Liebich). He wrote music that fit with the movement of impressionism even though “Debussy hated the term impressionism, particularly when used to describe his music” (Bonds). One might wonder why Debussy did not like the term impressionism when he has often been considered one of the greatest impressionistic composers of all time. Debussy “insisted he was more concerned with making something new – realities – as it were: what imbeciles call ‘impressionism’” (Bonds). Debussy was one of the few who argued this term. A sense of being right there in the moment of the emotion of the piece and for one to be able to experience it is what it seemed Debussy was trying to portray with his music rather than an impression of what was going on. Although Debussy’s music is best fitted in the category of impressionistic music, it is possible that he didn’t agree with the term because he believed there was much more to his music than just an impression of something. This may be why Debussy was considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time and why so many praise his work.

There are many reasons why Debussy’s music is considered to be impressionistic even though he strongly disliked the term. “His objection rests on the belief that our sensory perceptions, our impressions of the world, in fact construct their own kind of reality, an alternative to a conscious and supposedly objective, external reality that may not even exist in the first place” (Bonds). Debussy was a man of few words, but what he had to say was always deep and made you think. His mind dug below the surface to find something deep and what he would find would be expressed through his music. Debussy’s music can tell a lot about the person he is. Although it seemed he strived to create something new, the attitude he had was not a new one. Many romantics of the early 19th century had “embraced the idea of music as a means of conveying an...
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