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Claude debussy - Essay Example

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Name: Hung Quy Tran Professors: Dr Jonathan Kolm/ Dr Jason Lovelace MUS 121 Music Appreciation I: Composer Project Date: August 8, 2011   Claude Debussy The French composer Claude Debussy was born on 22 August 1862 and died on 25th March 1918. His style of music is called Impressionist, though Debussy himself could never stand the use of that term…
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Download file to see previous pages... If we consider Debussy’s music carefully, we can note the transition from the romantic compositions of the late 19th century to the modern music of the 20th century. Debussy was very much influenced by a movement called Symbolism which is shown in the art and culture of his times. The son of a small businessman and a seamstress, musician Claude Debussy was born in France in a locality known as St. Germain-en-Laye. His father owned a china shop. It was the time of the Franco-Prussian War and Debussy accompanied his pregnant mother to Cannes- the rest of the family moved to Paris. There Debussy was given piano lessons starting at the age of seven, paid for by his paternal aunt. His talent bloomed and at the age of ten, he was sent to the Paris Conservatorie, where he spent the next eleven years of his life, fortunate to study under such illustrious names as Ernest Guiraud (composition), Emile Durand (harmony), piano (Marmontel), organ (Cesar Franck) and Albert Lavingac (solfege). While he was clearly talented, his argumentative nature and refusal to conform to the teaching guidelines did not win him support at the academy. His penchant for introducing intervals and dissonances was frowned upon. The summers of 1880-1882 were spent by Debussy in the company of one of Tchaikovsky’s patronesses, Nazedhde von Meck, as she travelled to Russia with her children. On her sending Debussy’s ‘Danse Bohemienne’ to the Russian composer for his opinion, the reply given was that it was ‘too short, seemed incomplete and lacked unity’. Madame Vasnier, a singer he had met and her husband supported Debussy financially and emotionally at this time. Debussy’s composition ‘L’enfant prodigue’ was fortunate to have won the 1884 Prix de Rome award. He was entitled to a four year scholarship at the Villa Medici, the French academy in Rome, where he went to further his studies during 1885-1887. He found life there stifling and abominable, and often went into bouts of depression wherein he was unable to compose anything. By June 1885, Debussy eventually decided that he would go his own way, for he was too fond of his own ideas and a keen proponent of artistic freedom of expression. Debussy’s music has been noted for its new form of tonality which consists mainly of parallel chords, bi-tonal chords, whole tone and pentatonic scale, unprepared modulations and glittering passages and webs of figurations. He combined the effects of melodic tonality with harmonies that are similar, yet distinct from harmonic tonality (Parks, 87). Debussy was also influenced somewhat by Wagner’s music as it was in vogue after Wagner’s death in 1883. It appears that Debussy was reluctant to associate himself with the Impressionist Movement since it was not receiving positive support from the critics at that time. But it was Debussy’s ‘Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune’ (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun), a composition truly original in terms of both form and execution. It was to catapult him to the height of fame in the music world. Over his musical life, Debussy wrote 6 orchestral compositions, 4 for ballet, 16 soloist pieces, 9 for chamber, 29 for solo piano, 8 other piano, 64 for voice and piano, and 9 other vocal pieces. Commenting upon two of Debussy’s most well known compositions, we have Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (1894) and Pour le piano (1901). The first said piece was ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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