Claude Debussy
Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon

During a harsh wartime winter, Debussy’s coal merchant managed to divert scarce supplies of fuel to the Debussy household. As thanks, he received the beautifully written manuscript of this piece.

ID: 3166
Claude Debussy

Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon

Key: A-flat Major
Year: 1917
Level: 6
Period: Impressionism
piano sheet music Piano score: PS Edition Download
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Debussy's last piano piece

This wonderfully atmospheric piece is very much in the style of Debussy's Preludes. Written on three staves, with thick chords in both hands, its dynamics remain within the range of ppp to p, placing high demands on exactness of touch, voicing and colour. Prompted by the composer's gratitude to his coal merchant during the harsh winter of 1916-17, it also reveals links back to Debussy's early years, and his lasting admiration for the poet Charles Baudelaire. The title is a line from Baudelaire’s poem ‘Le Balcon’, set by Debussy along with ‘Harmonie du soir’ in his Cinq poèmes de Charles Baudelaire (1888). From this latter poem Debussy had extracted the line ‘Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir’ (‘Sounds and scents swirl through the evening air’) as the title of the fourth piece in his first book of Préludes, and he quotes the opening of this prelude at the start of Les soirs illuminés.


Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon (Evenings Lighted by the Glow of Coals) is Debussy’s very last work for piano, discovered as late as in 2001. The title takes up a line from Charles Baudelaire's poem "Balcon", a poem to which Debussy had already set to music in 1888.

Forum posts about this piece:

5-10 minute pieces by tomekpoz_
I have a recital in a few months time, and I'm looking for a few additional pieces to go alongside Hummel's sonata in E flat (op. ...

Downloadable piano sheet music by Claude Debussy to print: Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon in A-flat Major (published in 1917)
Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon in A-flat Major, a composition by the impressionism composer Claude Debussy. The piano score of this piece was first published in 1917 and is part of Miscellaneous pieces by Debussy.