Claude Debussy
La cathédrale engloutie
No. 10 from Preludes Book I

The Breton legend about a sunken cathedral mysteriously rising out of the ocean, inspired Debussy to compose this Prelude, featuring the distant sounds of submerged bells, organ pipes, and chanting priests.

ID: 311
Claude Debussy - Preludes Book I:

10. La cathédrale engloutie

Key: N/A
Year: 1908
Level: 8+
Period: Impressionism
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The Sunken Cathedral

Debussy describes the fabled cathedral of the Island of Ys. Inhabitants of Breton have told the story for generations upon generations. It’s sort of the Northern French version of Atlantis, the sea devouring the island and all who inhabited it, save for the king and his daughter. Thinking she is opening the gates of the city to let in her secret lover, she instead opens the dikes and floods the place. The legend is that, at low tide, onlookers can see the spires and hear the carillon beneath the waves. Debussy evokes this combination of charming and macabre scenes with a collection of harmonic techniques and haunting themes. Debussy goes further than the legend, musically yanking the cathedral out of the water in a radiant C-Major section. Performers sometimes jump up and down to bring their full weight upon the keys to create the biggest sound possible to convey the grand scale of the organ in the cathedral. Once the cathedral has had its moment in the sun, Debussy brings in the tide and buries it again in the ocean. The listener hears the bells and the organ from afar in the deep as the music tapers off.

Forum posts about this piece:

Difficulty of "La Cathédrale Engloutie" by rtheunissen
Dear people, Does anyone have experience with this tenth prelude by Debussy? To me, it doesn't seem to be that difficult. However, RCM does rate it as an ARCT level which makes me wonder what the...

The Sunken Cathedral by ptyrrell
Hi, I am a bit confused on how to pedal the middle section of The Sunken Cathedral bar 28-39, I have heard that the middle pedal is depressed on a grand, however I am practicing on an upright. ...

Debussy - La cathedrale engloutie by redbaron
The left hand chord on the first beat or bar 58 (it also appears on the second beat of bar 59 and the second beat of bar 51) is causing me grief. Starting from the bottom up I'm fingering it as 5-4-3-2-1...

debussy - The Sunken Cathedral by ptyrrell
Does anyone have a fingering for the awkward left hand chord in Debussy - The Sunken Cathedral (the first chord in measure 56) ? Cheers Paulmouse ...

La cathedrale engloutie by redbaron
Does anybody know the story/inspiration for Debussy's La cathedrale engloutie? Something to do with sunken...

Members who like this piece have also downloaded:

Debussy: Prelude - La Cathédrale engloutie Book 1 No. 10 (published in 1908) . DOWNLOAD piano sheet music from Piano Street digital sheet music library.
Prelude - La Cathédrale engloutie Book 1 No. 10 by the composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918). This piano piece was composed in 1908 and is part of Debussy's Preludes.