The Influence of The Impressionist Era

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The Influence of The Impressionist Era

Impressionism, one of the later eras in classical music composition.

An era where emotions are expressed vividly while still following

musical structure, where music caused much political controversy, and

where France became known for its musical talent. In this essay you

will read of how impressionism set a lasting mark in musical and

national histories, and how it influenced modern music as we know it.

The Impressionist Era all started with Claude Debussy, being tired of

the formed classical structure, and the romantic informality. Of all

of the musicians who ever lived Debussy (1862-1918) was known for his

originality and adventurous style. His influences soon spread

throughout the Western world. He, before long, became a "superstar" in

Europe, North America, and Asiatemporarily breaking the public's

fascination with the monolithic composers of the classical and

romantic eras. Because of Debussy's moving compositions Impressionism

soon spread into churches, schools, ballrooms, along with respected

theatres and concert halls. Although Claude Debussy was an amazing

orchestral composer, his works seemed to agree most with the piano.

Today, one of the most known pieces of piano repertoire is the piano

suite, Claire de Lune. Many composers started to become inspired by

Debussy and thus The Impressionist Era was born. In the later years to

come Debussy would have never guessed his music would be so powerful

and destructive.

In 1876 unrest soon came to France, and ironically held in the middle

was Impressionism. Today many would compare this to the sixties where

more liberal habits cause social disturbance. Historians to this day

are still shocked with how such an uplifting, and positive movement

could cause so much strife. Riots and political vendetta soon aroused

France, causing unofficial anarchy in which the government was

powerless. This national misfortune was actually caused by feuding

between the Socialists and Democratics using impressionism as their

weapon of war. The Impressionist Era was said by political leaders to

be expressing an opinion in France's politics, and since most

impressionists were French this point had a strong siding. Composers

like Debussy, and Satie soon unwittingly became political figureheads.

The music definitely was moving for the French people, and...

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... theatre, band and pop music techniques

and styles which were founded during Impressionism are all employed.

Even while watching a movie the background music often contains

Impressionistic styling. A prime example is Celine Dion's once popular

song, My Heart Will Go On, this song contains almost every one of

Impressionism's musical characteristics. Throughout the song harmonic

chord progressions, a drifting melodic line, classical and romantic

technique and tone, irregular chromatic intervals, and whole-tone

scales are clearly defined in the instrumental scores. Also, many

other songs are laden with Impressionistic styles; including some rock

music. Another modern day artist is Elton John who constantly uses

themes from the Impressionist Era. The influence that Impressionism

has on modern day music is actually quite phenomenal, all you have to

do is listen closely and I guarantee that you will notice some


The Impressionistic revolution in music all started with one musician,

one composer, named Claude Debussy - who alone turned his mind's

sketches into another Era in musical history. Who knows, maybe you

will lead the way into the next musical era.
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