Claude Debussy At 150

Flutes and fauns, dreams of the sea, Clair de Lune, and more.  We’re celebrating the 150thof composer Claude Debussy.

Claude Debussy at the piano, 1893

Claude Debussy at the piano, 1893

Claude Debussy composed in the time of the impressionist painters.  His music can call to mind that dreamy state.  A storm at sea.  A faun at play.  Moonlight on water.  Where Wagner went big, Debussy went small.  Went for color, for timbre, for his own harmonic language.

An almost mystical music that broke the rules, came from the heart, made way for jazz.  This year is the 150th anniversary of his birth.

This hour, On Point:  the dream state music of Debussy.

-Tom Ashbrook


Paul Roberts, pianist, writer, and scholar of French impressionist music. Author of “Claude Debussy” and “Images: the Piano Music of Claude Debussy.” You can find an excerpt of his Debussy biography here.

David Robertson, conductor and music director of the St. Louis Symphony.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Classical music institutions are usually quick to seize on major anniversaries of a composer’s birth or death as a convenient programming hook. Get ready for the Wagner and Verdi bicentennial celebrations next year. But what happened to Debussy, born 150 years ago on Wednesday in St.-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris?”

The Wall Street Journal “Claude Debussy is increasingly regarded as the most important composer of the twentieth century, even though he died before the end of World War I. This year, the 150th anniversary of his birth, more people than ever are making that claim, while the composer’s influence can be heard everywhere from the concert hall to the nightclub.”


“Clair de Lune”
La mer: III. “Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea”
“Clair de Lune”
Arabesque No. 1: Andantino con moto
Ariettes oubliees: No. 3 L’ombre des arbres
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
String Quartet in G minor, Mvmt. #4
Pelléas et Mélisande – Act 1, Scene 1
Suite Bergamasque: #3, Claire de Lune
Pelléas et Mélisande – Act 4, Scene 4
Act 2 – Love Duet from “Tristan und Isolde”
La mer: I. From Dawn Till Noon On the Sea
“Clair de Lune”
Préludes, Book I: No. 12 Minstrels
Préludes, Book 1: No. 2. Voiles
Images Book 2: #2.
Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor: 1. Prologue
“Clair de Lune” (JAZZ TRIO)

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