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Claude Achille Debussy


Born: August 22, 1862 Alternate/ Birth Name: Claude Debussy

Died:
25 March 1918, from colon cancer in Paris, France

Birthplace: St. Germain-en-Laye, France

Parents:
  • Mother -Victorine Manoury Debussy
  • Father - Manuel-Achille Debussy (Born 1836)
Siblings: Four sibling, One sister and Three brothers
  • Sister - Adele Debussy (1863-1952)
  • Brother - Emmanuel Debussy (1867-1937)
  • Brother - Alfred Debussy (born 1870 at Cannes)
  • Brother - Eugene-Octave (1873 - 1877). Died in infancy of meningitis
Profession: French Composer

Education:

1969 - At 7 years of age began piano lessons with an elderly Italian named Cerutti paid by his Aunt.
1872 - 1884 - At the age of 10 entered the Paris Conservatoire. Studied composition with Ernest Guiraud, music history and theory with Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray, harmony with Émile Durand, piano with Antoine-François Marmontel, organ with César Franck, and solfège with Albert Lavignac, as well as other significant figures of the era.
1884 (1885 -1887) - As the winner of the Prix de Rome, he received a scholarship by the Académie des Beaux-Arts, which included a four-year residence at the Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome to further his studies.

Childhood: Debussy like other great musicians didn't had the pleasure of being born in a well off family. His father owned china shop and was a salesman and his mother was a seamstress. He was the eldest of five children. Debussy was inclined towards music since childhood but his parents couldn't afford studies so his Aunt paid for his piano lessons. soon his talent was recognized and highly appreciated and he got admitted into the Paris Conservatoire where he studied for 11 years and later in 1884 he won Prix de Rome with his composition L'Enfant prodigue and was honored with a scholarship to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, which included a four-year residence at the Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome, to further his studies. Quite early in his life at the age of 18, he began an eight-year affair with Madame Blanche Vasnier, wife of a wealthy Parisian lawyer. The early music of Claude Debussy was influenced by Wagner, but Debussy's music became experimental and individualistic. He quickly moved away from traditional techniques and produced the pictures in sound that led his work to be described as "musical Impressionism".

First Break: Technically he got his first break as a music teacher to the children of Nadezhda von Meck, the patroness of Tchaikovsky. Though one his first compositions was L'Enfant prodigue which got him the winner title of the Prix de Rome.

Spouse:
  • First - Rosalie ('Lily') Texier (Fashion model), Married in 1899 and Divorced in 1904.
  • Second - Emma Bardac, Married in 1908


Children: One daughter, Claude-Emma (1905-1919)

Quotes:
  • "Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of the ear."
  • "The attraction of the virtuoso for the public is very like that of the circus for the crowd. There is always the hope that something dangerous will happen."
  • "I love music passionately. And because I love it I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth, an open-air art boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea. It must never be shut in and become an academic art. "
  • "I wish to sing of my interior visions with the naive candor of a child. "
  • "It is our duty to find the symphonic formula which fits our time, one which progress, daring and modern victory demand? The century of airplanes has a right to its own music"
  • "First of all, ladies and gentlemen, you must forget that you are singers." - upon first meeting the original cast of Pelléas et Mélisande.
  • "Music is the expression of the movement of the waters, the play of curves described by changing breezes. There is nothing is more musical than a sunset. He who feels what he sees will find no more beautiful example of development in all that book which, alas, musicians read but too little--the book of Nature."
  • "Some people wish above all to conform to the rules, I wish only to render what I can hear. There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law."
  • "Extreme complication is contrary to art. Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."
  • "Art is the most beautiful deception of all. And although people try to incorporate the everyday events of life in it, we must hope that it will remain a deception lest it become a utilitarian thing, sad as a factory. People come to music to seek oblivion: is that not also a form of deception?"
  • "I love music too much to speak of it otherwise than passionately."
  • "Art is always progressive; it cannot return to the past, which is definitely dead. Only imbeciles and cowards look backward. Then—Let us work!"

Musical Journey and Achievements:
Orchestral

L 83, Three Scènes au crépuscule for orchestra (1892–1893)
L 86, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1894)
L 91, Nocturnes for orchestra (and Female Choir, in Sirènes) (1897–1899)
    Nuages
    Fêtes
    Sirènes
L 107, Le roi Lear for orchestra (1904)
L 109, La Mer for orchestra (1903–1905)
L 122, Images Set 3 for orchestra
Gigues (1909–1912)
Ibéria (1905–1908)
Rondes de printemps (1905–1909)

Works for soloist and orchestra
L 20, Daniel: Versez, que de l'ivresse. Aux accents d'allégresse for three soloists and orchestra (1881)
L 24, Printemps: Salut printemps, jeune saison for female choir and orchestra (1882)
L 37, Hymnis for soloist, choir, and orchestra (1882)
L 40, Invocation: Élevez-vous, voix de mon âme for male choir and orchestra (1883)
L 41, Le gladiateur: Mort aux Romains, tuez jusqu'au dernier for three soloists and orchestra (1883)
L 56, Le printemps: L'aimable printemps ramène dans la plaine for choir of four voices and orchestra (1884)
L 57, L'Enfant prodigue for soprano, baritone, and tenor and orchestra (1884)
L 59, Zuleima for choir and orchestra (1885–1886)
L 61, Printemps in E major for choir, piano, and orchestra (1887)
L 62, La demoiselle élue: La demoiselle élue s'appuyait sur la barrière d'or du ciel for two soloists, female choir, and orchestra (1887–1888)
L 73, Fantaisie for piano and orchestra (1889–1890)
L 89, La Saulaie for baritone and orchestra (1896–1900)
L 98, Rhapsody for alto saxophone and piano or orchestra (1901–1911)
L 116, Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano or orchestra (1909–1910)
L 120, Petite pièce for clarinet and piano or orchestra (1910)
L 141, Ode à la France: Les troupeaux vont par les champs désertés for soprano, mixed choir, and orchestra (1916–1917)
[edit]Chamber Music
L 3, Piano Trio in G major (1879)
L 85, String Quartet in G minor (1893), Opus 10
L 96, Music for Chansons de Bilitis for two flutes, two harps, and celesta
Chant pastoral
Les comparaisons
Les contes
Chanson
La partie d'osselets
Bilitis
Le tombeau sans nom
Les courtisanes égyptiennes
L'eau pure du bassin
La danseuse aux crotales
Le souvenir de Mnasidica
La pluie du matin
L 103, Danses for cross-strung harp and string quintet (1904)
Danse sacrée
Danse profane
L 129, Syrinx for flute (1913)
L 135, Cello Sonata (1915)
L 137, Sonata for harp, flute, and viola (1915)
L 140, Violin and Piano Sonata (1916–1917)


Piano and Voice
L 1, Ballade à la lune: C'était dans la nuit brune for voice and piano (1879)
L 2, Madrid: Madrid, princesse des Espagnes for voice and piano (1879)
L 4, Nuits d'étoiles: Nuit d'étoiles, sous tes voiles for voice and piano (1880)
L 5, Caprice: Quand je baise, pâle de fièvre for voice and piano (1880)
L 6, Beau soir: Lorsque au soleil couchant les rivières sont roses for voice and piano (1880)
L 7, Fleur des blés: Le long des blés que la brise fait onduler for voice and piano (1880)
L 8, Rêverie: Le zéphir à la douce haleine for voice and piano (1880)
L 11, Souhait: Oh! quand la mort que rien ne saurait apaiser for voice and piano (1881)
L 12, Triolet à Phillis [Zéphyr]: Si j'étais le zéphyr ailé for voice and piano (1881)
L 13, Les roses: Lorsque le ciel de saphir for voice and piano (1881)
L 14, Séguidille: Un jupon serré sur les hanches for voice and piano (1881)
L 15, Pierrot: Le bon Pierrot que la foule contemple for voice and piano (1881)
L 16, Aimons-nous et dormons: Aimons-nous et dormons, sans songer au reste du monde for voice and piano (1881)
L 17, Rondel chinois: Sur le lac bordé d'azalée for voice and piano (1881)
L 18, Tragédie: Les petites fleurs n'ont pu vivre for voice and piano (1881)
L 19, Jane: Je pâlis et tombe en langueur for voice and piano (1881)
L 21, Fantoches: Scaramouche et Pulcinella for voice and piano (1882)
L 22, Le lilas: O floraison divine des lilas for voice and piano (1882)
L 23, Fête galante: Voilà Sylvandre et Lycas et Myrtil for voice and piano (1882)
L 25, Flôts, palmes et sables: Loin des yeux du monde for voice and piano (1882)
L 28, En sourdine: Calmes dans le demi-jour for voice and piano (1882)
L 29, Mandoline: Les donneurs de sérénades for voice and piano (1882)
L 30, Rondeau: Fut-il jamais douceur de cœur pareille for voice and piano (1882)
L 31, Pantomime: Pierrot qui n'a rien d'un Clitandre for voice and piano (1882)
L 32, Clair de lune: Votre âme est un paysage choisi for voice and piano (1882)
L 33, La fille aux cheveux de lin: Sur la luzerne en fleur for voice and piano (1882)
L 34, Sérénade: Las, Colombine a fermé le volet for voice and piano (1882)
L 39, Coquetterie posthume: Quand je mourrai, que l'on me mette for voice and piano (1883)
L 43, Romance [musique pour éventail]: Silence ineffable de l'heure for voice and piano (1883)
L 44, Musique: La lune se levait, pure, mais plus glacée for voice and piano (1883)
L 45, Paysage sentimental: Le ciel d'hiver si doux, si triste, si dormant for voice and piano (1883)
L 46, L'archet: Elle avait de beaux cheveux blonds for voice and piano (1883)
L 47, Chanson triste: On entend un chant sur l'eau dans la brume for voice and piano (1883)
L 48, Fleur des eaux for voice and piano (1883)
L 49, Églogue: Chanteurs mélodieux, habitants des buissons for soprano and tenor duet and piano (1883)
L 51, Diane au bois for soprano and tenor duet and piano (1883–1886)
L 52, Romance: Voici que le printemps, ce fil léger d'avril for voice and piano (1884)
L 53, Apparition: La lune s'attristait Des séraphins for voice and piano (1884)
L 54, La romance d'Ariel: Au long de ces montagnes douces for voice and piano (1884)
L 55, Regret: Devant le ciel d'été, tiède et calme for voice and piano (1884)
L 58, Barcarolle: Viens! l'heure est propice for voice and piano (1885)
L 60, Ariettes oubliées for voice and piano (1885–1887)
C'est l'extase: C'est l'extase langoureuse'
Il pleure dans mon cœur: Il pleure dans mon cœur comme il pleut sur la ville
L'ombre des arbres: L'ombre de arbres dans la rivière embrumée
Chevaux de bois: Tournez, tournez, bons chevaux de bois
Green: Voici des fruits, des fleurs, des feuilles
Spleen: Les roses étaient toutes rouges
L 63, Axel for voice and piano (1888)
L 64, Poèmes de Baudelaire for voice and piano (1887–1889)
Le balcon: Mère des souvenirs, maîtresse des maîtresses
Harmonie du soir: Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige
Le jet d'eau: Tes beaux yeux sont las, pauvre amante
Recueillement: Sois sage, ô ma douleur
La mort des amants: Nous aurons des lits pleins d'odeurs légères
L 74, La belle au bois dormant: Des trous à son pourpoint vermeil for voice and piano (1890)
L 76, Les Angélus: Cloches chrétiennes pour les matines for voice and piano (1891)
L 78, Dans le jardin: Je regardais dans le jardin for voice and piano (1891)
L 79, Romances for voice and piano (1891)
Romance: L'âme évaporée est souffrante
Les cloches: Les feuilles s'ouvraient sur le bord des branches
L 80, Fêtes galantes Set 1 for voice and piano
En sourdine: Calmes dans le demi-jour
Fantoches: Scaramouche et Pulcinella
Clair de lune: Votre âme est un paysage choisi
L 81, Mélodies for voice and piano (1891)
La mer est plus belle que les cathédrales
Le son du cor s'afflige vers les bois
L'échelonnement des haies moutonne à l'infini
L 84, Proses lyriques for voice and piano (1892–1893)
De rêve: La nuit a des douceurs de femme
De grève: Sur la mer les crépuscules tombent
De fleurs: Dans l'ennui si désolément vert
De soir: Dimanche sur les villes
L 90, Chansons de Bilitis for voice and piano (1897–1898)
La flûte de pan: Pour le jour des Hyacinthies
La chevelure: Il m'a dit «Cette nuit d'ai rêvé»
Le tombeau des Naiades: Le long du bois couvert de givre
L 94, Nuits blanches: Tout à l'heure ses mains plus délicates for voice and piano (1899–1902)
L 102, Chansons de France for voice and piano (1904)
Rondel: Le temps a laissié son manteau
La Grotte: Auprès de cette grotte sombre
Rondel: Pour ce que Plaisance est morte
L 104, Fêtes galantes Set 2 for voice and piano (1904)
Les ingénus:Les hauts talons luttaient avec les longues jupes
Le faune: Un vieux faune de terre cuite
Colloque sentimental: Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé
L 118, Le promenoir des deux amants for voice and piano
Auprès de cette grotte sombre
Crois mon conseil, chère Climène
Je tremble en voyant ton visage
L 119, Ballades de François Villon for voice and piano (1910)
Ballade de Villon à s'Amye: Faulse beauté qui tant me couste cher
Ballade que Villon feit à la requeste de sa mère pour prier Nostre Dame: Dame du ciel, régente terrienne
Ballade des femmes de Paris: Quoy qu'on tient belles langagières
L 127, Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé for voice and piano (1913)
Soupir: Mon âme vers ton front où rêve, ô calme sœur
Placet futile: Princesse! À jalouser le destin d'une Hébé
Évantail: Ô rêveuse pour que je plonge
L 139, Noël des enfants qui n'ont plus de maison: Nous n'avons plus de maison for voice and piano (1915)
[edit]Other piano music

L 10, Symphony for piano, four hands (1880)
L 26, Nocturne et Scherzo for piano and cello (1882)
L 36, Divertissement for piano, four hands (1882)
L 38, Le triomphe de Bacchus for piano, four hands (1882)
L 65, Petite suite for piano, four hands (1886–1889)
    En bateau
    Cortège
    Menuet
    Ballet
L 77, Marche écossaise sur un thème populaire for piano, four hands (1891)
L 97, Lindaraja for two pianos (1901)
L 131, Six épigraphes antiques for piano, four hands (1914)
Pour invoquer Pan, dieu du vent d'été
Pour un tombeau sans nom
Pour que la nuit soit propice
Pour la danseuse aux crotales
Pour l'égyptienne
Pour remercier la pluie au matin
L 134, En blanc et noir for two pianos (1915)

Vocal music
L 35, Choeur des brises: Réveillez-vous, arbres des bois for female a cappella choir (1882)
L 42, Chanson espagnole: Tra la la… nous venions de voir le taureau for vocal duet (1883)
L 72, Rodrigue et Chimène opera (1890–1892)
L 88, Pelléas et Mélisande opera (1893–1902)
L 92, Chansons de Charles d'Orléans for choir of four mixed voices a cappella (1898–1908)
Dieu! qu'il la fait bon regarder!
Quand j'ai ouy le tambourin sonner
Yver, vous n'estes qu'un villain
L 93, Berceuse: Il était une fois une fée qui avait un beau sceptre for voice without accompaniment (1899)
L 101, Le diable dans le beffroi (1902–1911, short opera based on Poe's "The Devil in the Belfry", unfinished)
L 112, La chute de la maison Usher (1908–1917, short opera based on Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher", unfinished)
L 124, Le martyre de Saint Sébastien (1911)
Vocal score, transcribed by André Caplet (from the Sibley Music Library Digital Scores Collection)
Prelude to Act II, orchestral score (from the Sibley Music Library Digital Scores Collection)

Ballet
L 125, Khamma ballet (1911–1912)
L 126, Jeux ballet (1912–1913)
L 128, La boîte à joujoux ballet (1913)
L 130, Le palais du silence ou NO-JA-LI ballet (1914)

Popular Work

1882  Clair de Lune
1894 Completes his first real masterpiece, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
1902 Premiere of his only completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande
1913 Composes his last major orchestral work, for the ballet Jeux


Harriet Brower's Account For Claude Achille Debussy
It is difficult to learn anything of the boyhood and youth of this rare French composer. Even his young manhood and later life were so guarded and secluded that few outside his intimate circle knew much of the man, except as mirrored in his
music. After all that is just as the composer wished, to be known through his compositions, for in them he revealed himself. They are transparent reflections of his character, his aims and ideals.

Only the barest facts of his early life can be told. We know that he was born at Saint Germain-en-Laye, France, August 22, 1862. From the very beginning he seemed precociously gifted in music, and began at a very early age to study the piano. His first lessons on the instrument were received from Mme. de Sivry, a former pupil of Chopin. At ten he entered the Paris Conservatoire, obtaining his Solfège medals in 1874, '75, and '76, under Lavignac; a second prize for piano playing from Marmontel in 1877, a first prize for accompanying in 1880; an accessory prize for counterpoint and fugue in 1882, and finally the Grande Prix de Rome, with his cantata, "L'Enfant Prodigue," in 1884, as a pupil of Guirand.

Thus in twelve years, or at the age of twenty-two, the young musician was thoroughly furnished for a career. He had worked through carefully, from the beginning to the top, with thoroughness and completeness, gaining his honors, slowly, step by step. All this painstaking care, this overcoming of the technical difficulties of his art, is what gave him such complete command and freedom in using the medium of tone and harmony, in his unique manner.

While at work in Paris, young Debussy made an occasional side trip to another country. In 1879 he visited Russia, where he learned to know the music of that land, yet undreamed of by the western artists. When his turn came to go to Rome, for which honor he secured the prize, he sent home the required compositions, a Symphonic Suite "Spring," and a lyric poem for a woman's voice, with chorus and orchestra, entitled "La Demoiselle Elue."

From the first Claude Debussy showed himself a rare spirit, who looked at the subject of musical art from a different angle than others had done. For one thing he must have loved nature with whole souled devotion, for he sought to reflect her moods and inspirations in his compositions. Once he said: "I prefer to hear a few notes from an Egyptian shepherd's flute, for he is in accord with his scenery and hears harmonies unknown to your treatises. Musicians too seldom turn to the music inscribed in nature. It would benefit them more to watch a sunrise than to listen to a performance of the Pastorale Symphony. Go not to others for advice but take counsel of the passing breezes, which relate the history of the world to those who can listen."

Again he says, in a way that shows what delight he feels in beauty that is spontaneous and natural:

"I lingered late one autumn evening in the country, irresistibly fascinated by the magic of old world forests. From yellowing leaves, fluttering earthward, celebrating the glorious agony of the trees, from the clangorous angelus bidding the fields to slumber, rose a sweet persuasive voice, counseling perfect oblivion. The sun was setting solitary. Beasts and men turned peacefully homeward, having accomplished their impersonal tasks."

When as a youth Debussy was serving with his regiment in France, he relates of the delight he experienced in listening to the tones of the bugles and bells. The former sounded over the camp for the various military duties; the latter belonged to a neighboring convent and rang out daily for services. The resonance of the bugles and the far-reaching vibrations of the bells, with their overtones and harmonics, were specially noted by the young musician, and used by him later in his music. It is a well-known fact that every tone or sound is accompanied by a whole series of other sounds; they are the vibrations resulting from the fundamental tone. If the tone C is played in the lower octave of the piano, no less than sixteen overtones vibrate with it. A few of these are audible to the ordinary listener, but very keen ears will hear more of them. In Claude Debussy's compositions, his system of harmony and tonality is intimately connected with these laws of natural harmonics. His chords, for instance, are remarkable for their shifting, vapory quality; they seem to be on the border land between major and minor—consonance and dissonance; again they often appear to float in the air, without any resolution whatever. It was a new aspect of music, a new style of chord progression. At the same time the young composer was well versed in old and ancient music; he knew all the old scales, eight in number, and used them in his compositions with compelling charm. The influence of the old Gregorian chant has given his music a certain fluidity, free rhythm, a refinement, richness and variety peculiarly its own.

We can trace impressions of early life in Debussy's music, through his employment of the old modes, the bell sounds which were familiar to his boyhood, and also circumstances connected with his later life. As a student in Rome, he threw himself into the study of the music of Russian composers, especially that of Moussorgsky; marks of the Oriental coloring derived from these masters appear in his own later music. When he returned to Paris for good, he reflected in music the atmosphere of his environment. By interest and temperament he was in sympathy with the impressionistic school in art, whether it be in painting, literature or in music. In Debussy's music the qualities of impressionism and symbolism are very prominent. He employs sounds as though they were colors, and blends them in such a way as literally to paint a picture in tones, through a series of shaded, many-hued chord progressions. Fluid, flexible, vivid, these beautiful harmonies, seemingly woven of refracted rays of light, merge into shadowy melody, and free, flowing rhythm.

What we first hear in Debussy's music, is the strangeness of the harmony, the use of certain scales, not so much new as unfamiliar. Also the employment of sequences of fifths or seconds. He often takes his subjects from nature, but in this case seems to prefer a sky less blue and a landscape more atmospheric than those of Italy, more like his native France. His music, when known sufficiently, will reveal a sense of proportion, balance and the most exquisite taste. It may lack strength at times, it may lack outbursts of passion and intensity, but it is the perfection of refinement.

Mr. Ernest Newman, in writing of Debussy, warmly praises the delightful naturalness of his early compositions. "One would feel justified in building the highest hopes on the young genius who can manipulate so easily the beautiful shapes his imagination conjures up."

The work of the early period shows Debussy developing freely and naturally. The independence of his thinking is unmistakable, but it does not run into wilfulness. There is no violent break with the past, but simply the quickening of certain French qualities by the infusion of a new personality. It seemed as if a new and charming miniaturist had appeared, who was doing both for piano and song what had never been done before. The style of the two Arabesques and the more successful of the Ariettes oubliées is perfect. A liberator seemed to have come into music, to take up, half a century later, the work of Chopin—the work of redeeming the art from the excessive objectivity of German thought, of giving it not only a new soul but a new body, swift, lithe and graceful. And that this exquisitely clear, pellucid style could be made to carry out not only gaiety and whimsicality but emotion of a deeper sort, is proved by the lovely "Clair de Lune."

Among Debussy's best known compositions are "The Afternoon of a Faun," composed in 1894 and called his most perfect piece for orchestra, which he never afterward surpassed. There are also Three Nocturnes for orchestra. In piano music, as we have briefly shown, he created a new school for the player. All the way from the two Arabesques just mentioned, through "Gardens in the Rain," "The Shadowy Cathedral," "A Night in Granada," "The Girl with Blond Hair," up to the two books of remarkable Preludes, it is a new world of exotic melody and harmony to which he leads the way. "Art must be hidden by art," said Rameau, long ago, and this is eminently true in Debussy's music.

Debussy composed several works for the stage, one of which was "Martyrdom of Saint Sebastien," but his "Pélleas and Mélisande" is the one supreme achievement in the lyric drama. As one of his critics writes: "The reading of the score of 'Pélleas and Mélisande' remains for me one of the most marvelous lessons in French art: it would be impossible for him to express more with greater restraint of means." The music, which seems so complicated, is in reality very simple. It sounds so shadowy and impalpable, but it is really built up with as sure control as the most classic work. It is indeed music which appeals to refined and sensitive temperaments.

This mystical opera was produced in Paris, at the Opéra Comique, in April, 1902, and at once made a sensation. It had any number of performances and still continues as one of the high lights of the French stage. Its fame soon reached America, and the first performance was given in New York in 1907, with a notable cast of singing actors, among whom Mary Garden, as the heroine gave an unforgettable, poetic interpretation.

Many songs have been left us by this unique composer. He was especially fond of poetry and steeped himself in the verse of Verlaine, Villon, Baudelaire and Mallarmé. He chose the most unexpected, the most subtle, and wedded it to sounds which invariably expressed the full meaning. He breathed the breath of life into these vague, shadowy poems, just as he made Maeterlinck's "Pélleas" live again.

As the years passed, Claude Debussy won more and more distinction as a unique composer, but also gained the reputation of being a very unsociable man. Physically it has been said that in his youth he seemed like an Assyrian Prince; through life he retained his somewhat Asiatic appearance. His eyes were slightly narrowed, his black hair curled lightly over an extremely broad forehead. He spoke little and often in brusque phrase. For this reason he was frequently misunderstood, as the irony and sarcasm with which he sometimes spoke did not tend to make friends. But this attitude was only turned toward those who did not comprehend him and his ideals, or who endeavored to falsify what he believed in and esteemed.

A friend of the artist writes:

"I met Claude Debussy for the first time in 1906. Living myself in a provincial town, I had for several years known and greatly admired some of the songs and the opera, 'Pélleas and Mélisande,' and I made each of my short visits to Paris an opportunity of improving my acquaintance with these works. A young composer, André Caplet, with whom I had long been intimate, proposed to introduce me to Debussy; but the rumors I had heard about the composer's preferred seclusion always made me refuse in spite of my great desire to know him. I now had a desire to express the feelings awakened in me, and to communicate to others, by means of articles and lectures, my admiration for, and my belief in, the composer and his work. The result was that one day, in 1906, Debussy let me know through a friend, that he would like to see me. From that day began our friendship."

Later the same friend wrote:

"Debussy was invited to appear at Queen's Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra, on February 1, 1908, to conduct his 'Afternoon of a Faun,' and 'The Sea.' The ovation he received from the English public was exceptional. I can still see him in the lobby, shaking hands with friends after the concert, trying to hide his emotion, and saying repeatedly: 'How nice they are—how nice they are!'"

He went again the next year to London, but the state of his health prevented his going anywhere else. For a malady, which finally proved fatal, seemed to attack the composer when in his prime, and eventually put an end to his work. We cannot guess what other art works he might have created. But there must be some that have not yet seen the light. It is known that he was wont to keep a composition for some time in his desk, correcting and letting it ripen, until he felt it was ready to be brought out.

One of his cherished dreams had been to compose a "Tristan."

The characters of Tristan and Iseult are primarily taken from a French legend. Debussy felt the story was a French heritage and should be restored to its original atmosphere and idea. This it was his ardent desire to accomplish.

Debussy passed away March 26, 1918.

Since his desire to create a Tristan has been made impossible, let us cherish the rich heritage of piano, song and orchestral works, which this original French artist and thinker has left behind, to benefit art and his fellow man.