Piano Street Magazine

Documentary: In the Footsteps of Debussy

April 6th, 2018 in Top Video Picks by | 1 comment

As writer John Terauds puts it; ”… with the varying styles of Impressionist paintings, the long view represents something defined, but the closer you get, the more his compositions start to fall apart into the individual components that our minds work imperceptibly to piece together into meaningful shapes.”

March 25 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of one of Western music’s revolutionaries whose enormous influence we nowadays tend to take for granted. For the centenary occasion Warner Classics has contributed to both a distant and a close look at Claude Debussy. Their 33-disc set aims to include everything Debussy wrote, from his earliest compositions of 1879-80 to the late sonatas composed during the first world war. The compilation also contains his own transcriptions and arrangements of his music made by contemporaries during his lifetime. The vast material is presented chronologically within each genre and also includes minor pieces recorded for the first time. As a historical appendix, one disc contains Debussy’s own performances from piano rolls probably made in 1913. Here we find some Préludes and the Children’s Corner suite, and with singer Mary Garden in the Verlaine settings of Ariettes Oubliées and from his opera Pelléas et Mélisande.

As a part of the project Warner Classics has produced a three-part documentary series named ”In the Footsteps of Debussy”. The series was filmed at the composer’s birthplace Maison Claude Debussy in Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris and features contributions from noted Debussy scholars and performers.

In the Footsteps of Debussy – Part 1
In the Footsteps of Debussy – Part 2
In the Footsteps of Debussy – Part 3

Hear Debussy play Debussy in the bonus material of the 33-disc compilation “Claude Debussy: The Complete Works”

NEW! Click the album cover to listen to the complete album:
Debussy - Disc 33: Bonus material
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  • Ted Jones says:

    My teacher, the New Zealand composer Llewelyn Jones, used to tell me about his experience with Debussy. It came about because Llew, at the age of eight, was a choirboy at Llandaff Cathedral. He said that Debussy, who conducted there occasionally, was very distant, used to swear at the choirboys, and neglected his duties with the choir by fiddling about repeating two or three ideas at the organ or piano by himself for hours. Elgar used to conduct there too, but he was very genial and, taken with my teacher’s improvisation, used to spend time teaching the boy. Two tremendous talents with very different personalities.

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