Spotlight on Great Classical Composers: Debussy


We are back with another Spotlight feature ~!  This month, we look at one of the most influential French composers of the 20th century, Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918).

The creator behind a highly original system of harmony and musical structure that expressed in many respects, the ideals of the Impressionist and Symbolist painters and writers of his time, Debussy’s works were a seminal force in the music of the 20th century and even till date. 

Whilst Debussy’s gift as a musician was apparent from a young age ~ coming under the patronage of Russian millionairess and patron of the arts, Nadezhda von Meck in his teenage years and winning the Grand Prix de Rome in 1884 in his early twenties ~ his success formed out of great turbulence in his youth was hard-earned.  

In his work, Debussy looked continuously to many different arenas for experience.  Drawing inspiration from paintings, tales and poems, Debussy insisted that exploration be the essence of music and broke new ground with his constant search for a new technical language that could challenge the stereotypical harmonic procedures of the 19th century, and the traditional usage of orchestral instruments. 

*an example being his pizzicato scherzo from his String Quartet (1893)

(above, his single completed opera Pelléas et Mélisande ~ a response to Edgar Allan Poe’s nightmare tale, The Fall of the House of Usher)

A poet, painter and musician, Debussy was an iconic composer whose curiosities covered vast grounds across different artistic forms beyond his own that was music.  His work which became a foundation for the styles later developed by Stravinsky and the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók should not be judged based on musical ground alone ~ as his friend, the French composer Paul Dukas said, “one must seek the poetry in his work.”

In our January #origins collections within The Glasshouse, we take a closer look at the influence of painting and poetry on Debussy’s music, through encountering some of his crafted musical responses to these other forms of art.

If you have yet to join The Glasshouse, do drop by to explore the lives and works of Great Classical Composers with us ~!

While designed for children and youths, #origins can also cater for curious adults interested in classical music, and can be enjoyed by all ages ~!  Offering unique monthly collections of Storyboards, Activity and Canvas sheets, there is definitely fresh content to look forward to every month in The Glasshouse (: ! 

Join us now ~!

We hope to see you in The Glasshouse, and do stay tuned for our next Spotlight on Great Classical Composers coming to you in April !