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date: 19 January 2021

Debussy, (Achille-)Claudelocked

  • François Lesure
  •  and Roy Howat

Extract

(b St Germain-en-Laye, Aug 22, 1862; d Paris, March 25, 1918). French composer. One of the most important musicians of his time, his harmonic innovations had a profound influence on generations of composers. He made a decisive move away from Wagnerism in his only complete opera Pelléas et Mélisande, and in his works for piano and for orchestra he created new genres and revealed a range of timbre and colour which indicated a highly original musical aesthetic.

François Lesure

Debussy’s family was originally of modest peasant stock, settled in the Auxois district of Burgundy from at least the 17th century, and moving to the Paris region around 1800. The composer’s grandfather was a wine seller and later a joiner. His father, Manuel-Achille, served in the marine infantry for seven years, then settled with his wife in St Germain-en-Laye to run a china shop. Their first son, Achille-Claude, was born there, although it was two years before he was baptized. His father dreamt of making a sailor of him. In ...

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