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'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ... (Read 11769 times)

Offline mikeo38

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'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
« on: October 24, 2009, 10:31:54 PM »
Does anyone have a biography of Debussy or another reference work which can tell me when (and perhaps where) he composed 'Minstrels'?

Comments greatly appreciated ...

M

piano sheet music of Prelude - Minstrels


Offline retrouvailles

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #1 on: October 24, 2009, 10:40:14 PM »

Offline mikeo38

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #2 on: October 24, 2009, 11:41:48 PM »
Thanks for your prompt reply to my first ever posting on this forum.

But how depressing to get such a curt and schoolmarmish response to a polite query.  Of course, I looked on Wiki first, but the main article doesn't refer to 'Minstrels'; neither is there a link from the main article to Préludes (Debussy) which you quote.  I did not know that ‘Minstrels’ is a prelude.

I use forums a lot and have received (and given) a lot of help over the years; I’ve also lost count of how many Wiki edits I’ve contributed.

As to whether I'm allowed to post on this particular board, I chose it because I thought it was the most appropriate for such a question.  I'm not sure whether I can be included among what are called 'amateures' [sic] at an advanced level.

Are such churlish responses typical of this forum?

M


Offline retrouvailles

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #3 on: October 24, 2009, 11:46:22 PM »
Are such churlish responses typical of this forum?

Well, not of me personally, but they can be from many other users. Consider it a sort of initiation, for it was nothing personal. I'm usually a really nice guy who will help out others with pertinent information that is needed.

Offline gerryjay

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #4 on: October 25, 2009, 01:35:32 AM »
dear mike:
retrouvailles was probably on a bad day, cause he's a nice person.

about debussy, a very interesting book is the piano works of claude debussy, by e.r. schmitz.

about minstrels itself, it was composed in 1910, probably in paris, although he was inbetween travels those days.

best!

Offline abj

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #5 on: October 25, 2009, 02:10:32 AM »
According to Oxford Music Online, he started composing the first book of preludes in the late months of 1909, during his travels in Britain, and completed them in 1910 (Chopin's centenary year).

Offline mikeo38

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #6 on: October 25, 2009, 04:04:24 PM »
Thanks again for the replies about Debussy’s ‘Minstrels’.

I am interested to read that he composed the piece in Paris around 1909 – 1910, and have looked at Oxford Music Online, which says:

“During a visit to Britain at the end of February 1909, [ . . . ]. He returned to composing for the piano and started the first book of Préludes at the end of the year.”

The posting by “gerryjay” says that that “Minstrels itself, was composed in 1910, probably in Paris, although he was in between travels those days.”

I would be most grateful if someone can tell me if any of the Debussy books say whether ‘Minstrels’ was inspired by an experience or incident that he encountered during his travels in Britain.

Many thanks in advance ...

M

Offline slobone

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #7 on: October 26, 2009, 04:13:56 AM »
I was just reading this piece this evening by coincidence. I'm sure you've noticed the passage where you're supposed to imitate the rhythm of a drum. The directions say "quasi tambouro" which is neither French nor Italian. "Quasi" means "almost" in both languages, but the second word would be spelled "tambour" in French and "tamburo" in Italian.

Minstrel shows were a popular form of entertainment starting way back in the 19th century in the US, usually consisting of white performers in blackface, who would tell corny jokes and play lively music with a lot of banjos etc. I'm sure by 1910 they were popular everywhere in Europe, so Debussy could certainly have seen them in France or England. It's the same sort of idea as "Golliwog's Cakewalk". (Hopelessly racist today of course.)

Offline gerryjay

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #8 on: October 26, 2009, 06:43:12 AM »
dear mike:
unfortunately, i'm in the middle of a house moving and my books are already packed... :-[

anyway, slobone bring remarkable background information, which make me curious. wikipedia have an interesting article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show). btw, i was googling minstrels + london, and the results are amazing: apparently, it was a popular entertainment in london from the very late 19th century.



best!

Offline mikeo38

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #9 on: October 26, 2009, 08:09:24 AM »
Thanks again for the replies.

Yes, travelling minstrel shows were very popular in Britain before WW1, especially at seaside resorts.

Debussy and Emma Bardac stayed at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne in the summer of 1905, and he is said to have put the finishing touches to 'La Mer' while at that hotel.  They also visited Jersey at about the same time.  They would certainly have seen minstrel shows on the seafront in both places.

Someone has told me that he got the idea for 'Minstrels' from a travelling band (perhaps 'band' in the sense of a troop of performers?) that he had seen in England.  Thanks to information received on this forum, I now know that the piece was written later than 1905, but it's possible that an idea could have stayed with him.  I would dearly love to find evidence from a biography or other work.  I will go to our local library this week but the music section may not be well stocked.

The following websites have information:-

 http://www.debussy.fr/ (and) http://www.litart.co.uk/

The second has an account of his visit to England; the detective work relating to the Blüthner which he first rented, and then took back to France, is superb.

Anyway, I hope that someone on this forum will have a book which may help with regard to his inspiration for 'Minstrels'.

Comments greatly appreciated ...

M


Offline mikeo38

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #10 on: October 27, 2009, 10:40:37 PM »
Those who have been following this thread may be interested to read what I found at a public library in France this afternoon.

There is a reference to Minstrels in the French translation of the New Oxford Companion to Music (1983).  Does anyone have access to the English version?  The French text reads: [ . . . ] des cabrioles des Minstrels à Eastbourne, en 1905 [ . . . ].  I would be interested to know the wording in the original English version of this reference book  – is it ‘somersaults’?

A biography of Debussy by Edward Lockspeiser (1962), also translated from English into French, says that according the Swiss pianist, Alfred Cortot, the inspiration for Minstrels came from English clowns.  Others, however, see in the piece the beginnings of jazz, which was already being performed in nightclubs by black musicians.

M

Offline abj

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #11 on: October 27, 2009, 11:22:34 PM »
Here is the book gerryjay mentioned in his post. And "cabrioles" is "somesaults", yes. The sentence reads, "from the somersaults of the Minstrels in Eastbourne, in 1905". Eastbourne is a town in East Sussex, England.

This site asserts that Debussy purchased a piano in Eastbourne:

http://www.elainegreenfield.com/pages/histrec.htm

Offline mikeo38

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #12 on: October 28, 2009, 07:46:23 AM »
Well, that's all very good indeed ... thanks a lot.

The person being interviewed has written a full account of her research and this can be seen at:-

http://www.litart.co.uk/

Sorry, that I got off to a somewhat grumpy start with this forum!

M

Offline kevinr

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #13 on: October 28, 2009, 12:46:32 PM »
One recently published book on French Piano music of this era (especially Chabrier, Faure, Debussy and Ravel) is this:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-French-Piano-Music-Chabrier/dp/0300145470/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256733400&sr=1-1


I have just finished reading it. I don't have my copy to hand and can't remember what it says about this particular piece but in general it's an excellent book - including lots of performance advice.

Offline gerryjay

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Re: 'Minstrels' by Claude Debussy ...
«Reply #14 on: October 29, 2009, 04:48:21 AM »
very interesting indeed. i'm sorry i have no further information regarding minstrels, but it's cool to learn more about this might cycle.
best wishes, and very good luck with your research!