Claude Debussy Essay

Claude Debussy When classical piano music Is played. Most people would stereotypically state that the piece was composed by Beethoven or Mozart. However, it is common knowledge among the musically educated that there were several musicians that were capable of composing equally beautiful, if not greater, compositions of music. One of these crown-less musicians was Claude Debussy, who, by combining both romantic and contemporary styles in his works, was one of the most influential composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Born in Saint-German-en-Lay, France n 1862, Achilles-Claude Debussy was the first son to the poor owners of a china shop. Early In life, Debussy wished to become a painter, while his father yearned for his enrollment Into the navy. However, Antoinette Matte, self-proclaimed student of Frederic Chopin, noticed his musical talent and quickly enrolled Claude Debussy into the Paris Conservatory, which was no more than 20 miles from his home. It was here that, although he could have had a professional career as a pianist, he set the Plano aside and began his career of composition.

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In the conservatory, his colleagues and referrers admired his musical talent, but were confused by his strange innovation of music. This is due to his rejection of the rigid restraints on composition, which were the basic principles of music at the conservatory. In fact, his main goal was to create music that was completely new and unstudied at the time. He Unguent 1 @Unguent 2 expressed this in an essay in 1903, when he stated that “Music ought therefore to free itself as quickly as possible from the from these little rituals with which the conservatories insist on encumbering it.

I don’t believe that this liberation an be achieved by absorbing more and more elements from everyday life; music has a life of Its own that will always prevent It from being too precise. It says that everything that one cannot put into words; thus It is logical that to emphasize it is to diminish it” (Brown 13). However, during his stay at the conservatory, he debatable met the most influential person of his career, Maddened Von Neck. At first, Maddened employed Debussy so that he might teach music to her children.

However, Debussy received much more than a salary from this wealthy patroness. Through Maddened, Claude Debussy was able to be exposed to composers from all around Europe. His most notable influences were encountered when visiting Russia, where Debussy was bewildered by the exotic styles of of many Russian composers, especially Mussorgsky, Debussy greatly admired the great darkness and boldness of the block chords in his works. Mussorgsky free and imaginative style only enforced Debussy ideals and he yearned to convey similar ideals in his own work.

Also, as with nearly every musical composer, Debussy drew Inspiration from famous musicians as well, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Bach, Franz List, and Frederic Chopin, but seemed to not be fond of the “conflict-driven music of Beethoven” (Altered 5). The influences of Bach and Mozart are supposedly impossible to specifically find in his works. List’s piano style was very bold, harmonic, and, Debussy favorite aspect, free. This Is because List used the piano to personify water. In consequence, List’s style can easily distinguished in Debussy greatest études and preludes.

Debussy 1 OFF states that “Chopin is the greatest of all, for with the piano alone he discovered everything. ” (Altered 8). However, Debussy was not picky in the artists he chose to listen to. This is shown in the influence of the third-tier composer, Jules Masseuse. From this composer, Debussy learned his elegant compactness of forms and cool lyricism (Altered 4). After obtaining the top prize in the PRI De Rome at the age of 22 with his cantata Lantern prorogue, he used the funds to study the style of the German composer, Richard Wagner in Rome for two years.

Wagner greatly influenced Debussy. Consequently there were traces of Wager’s style in even the earliest of Debussy work, but Debussy claimed to have despised Wager’s work later in life most likely due to his contradictory pride. Debussy unique style was influenced not only by musicians, but other genres of art and culture as well. During his attendance at the Paris World Exhibition in 1889, Debussy heard a Javanese gametal, which was an oriental influenced musical ensemble composed of a variety of bells, gongs, xylophones, and occasionally accompanied with vocals.

Absorbing the Eastern- Asian style of this new type of music, he incorporated the elements of the gametal into his rent style to produce a completely new sound in the following years. More specifically, his Artistes bullies prelude a lapses-midi d-UN fauna and his String Quartet were composed during these years and considered some if his early masterpieces (Debussy 1). Debussy was even intrigued by music from the medieval era, especially the church music known as organ.

Although the use of old- fashioned melodic intervals was forbidden in the musical community of that time period, Debussy ignored this restriction, as he tended to do with most orthodox ideas, в?Unguent 4 and used these intervals regularly. In fact, this style can be recognized in one of his most prestigious works, the La cathedrals negligent, or The Engulfed Cathedral. By absorbing styles from all over Europe and even some in Asia, Debussy created a style that focused more on dissonance and uncommon scales, as opposed to the orthodox focus on the major and minor scale.

This name of this style, while ironically despised by Debussy, was called Impressionism. Also, analogous to the French painting style, it did not depict a clear picture and came focus more on suggestion of an atmosphere or story rather than a clear depiction of these themes. The era of impressionism, beginning in the sass’s and ending near the sass’s, did not last long, but it had a profound effect on art that still affects us even today. This term was coined not by musicians, but by painters. These painters included masters such as Van Gogh and Degas.

They used impressionism to break free from the orthodox style of that time period, which was merely a contest to create the most realistic art. Impressionism was the opposite of this. Using blurred colors, lines, and faces, the paintings created merely created an “impression” for the viewer rather than a finite scene, thus allowing the viewer to see the art from his or her own perspective. Focusing more on moving scenery than stationary portraits, Van Gogh prevalently used this style in his most famous masterpiece, Starry Night. On the musical side of Impressionism, the style held the same concepts of freedom and undefined themes.

Regarding instruments, musical Impressionism favored the orchestra for its color and the piano for its ability to hold vibrating melodies mid-air. However, even with the seemingly unlimited freedom of this style, there were still composition. These styles were modal influences, whole-tone scales, pentatonic Unguent 5 scale, impressionist harmony, parallel motion, and escaped chords. Whole- tone scales were greatly influenced medieval themes of primary intervals, which were used to break free from the rigid standards of the major and minor sounds.

Debussy obtained this aspect from the organ of the medieval time period. Whole-tone scales originated not from Europe, but from Eastern- Asia. This characteristic divided the octave into equal major or minor systems and created an obscured fluidity. Debussy obtained this component when he heard the previously mentioned Javanese gametal. Pentatonic scales were five-note scales that were comprised of black keys. This attribute is associated with Chinese music and Scottish, Irish, and English folk tunes. Impressionist Harmony is more of a style than a technique.

It is simply the releasing of the chord from its function as harmony to movement within the melody. Parallel motion was considered forbidden during the Classical era, as it was contradictory to the very core of the Classical era, which was to move tones in a contrary fashion. Parallel motion moved tones together, so the tones would always move together and be the same distance apart at all times. Escaped Chords have no proper definition. They can best be described as chords that are never resolved or used as the resolution.

There are several other characteristics that can be named, but they are much too vague. These include the vagueness of rhythm or ever-present fragmented phrases (Gabble 1). As a person, Debussy personality was extremely compatible with his style. As with most Impressionist composers, Debussy was a dreamer, always wanting to break free from the chains of orthodox music. Physically, Debussy was often described to be catlike, but not so lean, as he did physically little hat was more than compose. In fact he was a cat-lover in person, as well as a hedonist who was quite the Bohemian and cafe-gore.

Debussy was rarely financially в?Unguent 6 stable as a consequence of his impoverished heritage and associating with the risky business of such unorthodox music. Regardless, he was recognized as the prevalent composer of the Impressionist era by the sass’s. However, Debussy was not Just a composing recluse. Debussy married Lily Dexter, but when she was left behind for Emma Abroad, she successfully committed suicide. However, Debussy moved on and quickly married Abroad. Together they had a single daughter whom provided Debussy with much Joy.

At the end of Debussy incredibly successful life, he succumbed to colon cancer at the age of 55 on March 25, 1918 in Paris, Italy. There are many great composers in history, but never one that went against music theory as much as Debussy. By not conforming to the pressure of the music community, critics, and even his peers, he revolutionized music in the same way that only the masters of history had done. It is true that he did not revolutionize a country, but his feat is no less amazing. It is Just as true that he may not be as well-known as Mozart,