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Claude Debussy: Life and Works

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Claude Debussy, who is one of the most important French composers that represent the early twentieth century, he composed the prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”. He wrote this Prelude based on an inspiration of a poem that was written by Stephane Mallarme, who was a prominent French writer. There are some historical contexts and stylistic contexts that can be seen and discussed from this. And, these factors made this piece the best-known orchestral work of Debussy.
Debussy was born in 1862 in the town of St. Germain-en-Laye , a town near Paris. When he was eleven, he entered the Paris Conservatory. Instead of following music ideas and structure that done by his predecessors, he started to compose and play harmonies that defied the rules. These strange, peculiar sounding harmonies shocked his lecturers. By that time, he already started trying on new harmonies that was something different.
The year 1890 was Debussy’s most glorious time of his career. He composed two operas, Pelleas and Mellisande. Because of the new things that Debussy wrote, Pelleas was rejected at first, for the lack of melody, form and substance. But, this work has also made him famous, and he started to conduct his works in the capitals of Europe.2
As a French composer, Debussy declared that French music is always clear, elegant and simple. Not only that, Debussy’s works is always new and fresh, as he always wanted to try something different. Also with Mussorgsky’s encouragement to disobey the scholastic rules, and to be more daring in creating harmonies, he will often break the traditional rules and patterns, and try out some new elements.
We can see a lot of use of exotic scales such as chromatic, whole tone and pentatonic scales, we can hear that disson...

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...pany with. To him, he was trying to make 'something new', in a way his interpretation of the things around him and not be tied down by the rigid ways of the romantics and those before him. He wanted to bring forth the colour and feelings of each piece, and allow the listener to paint for themselves the image of each part of his piece.

In conclusion, Debussy's work has inspired many, and to this day chords and melodies that were first played hundreds of years ago are still being used today as accompaniment from multi-billion dollar movies, video games to bring out the feeling of each set and each part of the experience.

Works Cited

Kristine Forney, and Joseph Machlis. The Enjoyment of Music: Eleventh Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011.
Vallas, Leon, Maire Brien, and Grace Brien, Claude Debussy, his life and works. New York: Dover Publication, 1973.
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