Claude Debussy (1862–1918)

How to say the name:

‘Debussy’ is said like De-buss-ee. ‘Claude’ is said like ‘Clawed’.

Debussy’s grave in Paris

Born:

22nd August 1862 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.

Died:

25th March 1918 in Paris, France.

Buried:

Passy Cemetery in Paris.

Type of Music:

Classical music from the late romantic period to the early modern period. However, Debussy’s music was so original that these titles don’t really describe his music very well. Musicians often use a different title to describe Debussy’s music instead—&#8216impressionist’.

Some famous pieces:
  • Claire de Lune (‘Moonlight’). (See the ice skaing video below.)
  • L’après-midi d’un faune (‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’). (See below for a video.)
  • Golliwogg’s Cakewalk (from a group of pieces for the piano called ‘Children’s Corner’).
Some great pieces:
  • The opera Pelléas et Mélisande.
  • L’après-midi d’un faune.
  • Preludes, Books 1 and 2.
  • La Mer (‘The Sea’)—for orchestra.
  • Plus other piano pieces, such as Estampes.
Some interesting facts:
  • Debussy started the modern period of classical music. Many musicians say that the first modern piece of classical music was Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un faune.
  • His music often sounds quite soft and ‘dreamy’.
  • Much of his music is written for the piano.
  • His opera Pelléas et Mélisande is unique. There was nothing like it before, and there has been nothing quite like it since.

Here is a video of part of Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun).

Part of Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un faune

And here is a beautiful video of someone ice-skating to the music of Debussy! Debussy actually wrote this music for the piano, but who cares! The dancing and the music just go together so well.

Ice-skating to Debussy’s Clair de Lune (‘Moonlight’)

Picture credits:
  1. Claude Debussy. This is a photograpgh by Félix Nadar from about 1908. The image is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
  2. Debussy’s grave. This is photograpgh is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
Video credits:
  1. Debussy: L’après-midi d’un faune (Stokowski) part 1/2. A celebrated performance conducted by Leopold Stokowski with the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, London, 14 June 1972. There is more information about this one on the video’s YouTube page.
  2. Caroline Zhang Montage – Clair de Lune. Caroline Zhang – Clair de Lune by Debussy *fan-made video*.

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