Prof. Fred Dart
Towards the end of the Contemporary Period in music, two popular composers appeared in Europe, starting the Impressionistic Movement. In France Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy became famous and sometimes controversial musicians with their unique interpretation of musical scales and romantic tones. Both Ravel and Debussy are known for the dissonance they place in their musical works at a time when dissonance was frowned on. Debussy, a composer the French admire, was one of the widely known throughout Europe, not just for his musical genius, but turbulent and highly publicized love life.
Claude Debussy was the firstborn of five children from a china shop owner and a seamstress in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France on August 22, 1862. A few years later, his family moved to Paris, where at seven years old, Claude began piano lessons. His tutors along with others recognized his potential and four years later, was entered into Paris Conservatoire, an institution for higher education for performing arts. He spent twelve years there, studying composition, music theory, and harmony. He learned to play the organ and continued with piano as well. Around 1880, he moves to Russia to live with Madame Nadezhda Von Meck, a supporter of performing arts and a patroness to composers such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky. While staying there, he tutored Von Meck’s children on the piano. There he met Madame Vasnier, a singer, with whom he has an affair with. In 1884, he enters in a competition at the Prix de Rome, where he wins is awarded a scholarship to the Academie des Beaux-Artes which includes a four year residence as Villa Medici, a French Academy in Rome. During his stay there, he is inspired by composer Franz Liszt but he felt the atmosphere of the academy was stagnant in his personal and artistic growth, so in 1886, he leaves Rome and returns to Paris. In 1888, Debussy visits Bayreuth,...