Thursday, December 5, 2013

Claude Debussy - Reverie

Debussy - Reverie

More proof, as if it were needed, that Claude Debussy was the master of creating dream-like atmospheres in his piano music.
Debussy impressions
Written in 1890, Debussy's Reverie was one of his first solo piano works to make an impact. Even at this early stage in his career, when he was still working out what kind of composer he wanted to be (he was apparently a fervent debater when it came to Wagnerism), it's clear to see traits of that signature Debussy sound.

However, the young Debussy had not quite developed the style and tricks that would earmark him as one of his generation's most notable talents. There are no fireworks here, no sudden explosions in texture that would come to characterise his later works - this is more of a meditation, the perfect precursor to exploring those later works.

The gently repetitive theme that opens the work feels like a descent into sleepy dream-world (as the title suggests), and as the textures become ever richer the dreams only become more lush and addictive. A fantastic early sign that this Debussy fellow was one to watch…

Video: Debussy's Reverie

Claude Debussy


Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy (1862–1918) was a 20th-century French composer and one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music. 
Life and Music
  • Claude Debussy was born on the 22nd August 1862 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.
  • In 1880, Tchaikovsky commented on one of Debussy's early pieces: "It is a very pretty piece, but it is much too short. Not a single idea is expressed fully, the form is terribly shriveled, and it lacks unity."
  • It was not until 1894, aged 32, that Debussy completed the first piece to truly declare his independence of thought: Prelude a l'Apres-midi d'un Faune, a highly innovative piece inspired by a poem of Stephane Mallarmé.
  • After his first successes, Debussy began serious work on his opera Pelleas et Melisande(completed in 1902) and the three orchestral Nocturnes (completed in 1899).
  • Debussy entered a new creative phase in 1903 with La Mer, completed while staying in Eastbourne, where he observed that "the sea behaves with British politeness".
  • The success of Pelleas et Melisande's long-delayed premiere in 1902 made Debussy a celebrity. He subsequently began a passionate affair with Emma Bardac, one-time mistress of Gabriel Faure, whereupon his wife unsuccessfully attempted to shoot herself.
  • In 1914, just as he was at the height of his powers, Debussy discovered he had cancer. An operation left him so debilitated that he composed nothing for over a year.
  • Before his death on March 25th 1918 in Paris, he completed one final masterwork, the Violin Sonata.

Did you know?

Debussy's obvious talent for the piano led to his winning a place at the junior department of the Paris Conservatoire in 1872 when he was only 10 years old.

Claude Debussy Music

Claude DebussyWatchDebussy - Arabesques

Early impressionist standards from the French piano master, but there's more to Debussy's Deux Arabesques than meets the eye - just ask Alicia Keys

DebussyWatchDebussy - Préludes

All the piano greats completed a set of Preludes for solo piano, but why is Debussy's that little bit different?

Debussy impressionsWatchDebussy - Reverie

More proof, as if it were needed, that Claude Debussy was the master of creating dream-like atmospheres in his piano music

FluteWatchDebussy - Syrinx

It might take less than three minutes to play, but Debussy's Syrinx crams a lot into one piece for solo flute.

debussy la merWatchDebussy - La Mer

Claude Debussy's rich and evocative depiction of the underwater realm remains an impressionistic milestone, a classic of its type. But what makes La Mer so good?


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