Claude Debussy was born on August 22, 1862 in St. Germain-en-Laye. His parents operated a small china shop and he later became the oldest of five children. At the age of 11, he began musical training at the Paris Conservatory. Debussy originally intended to become a pianist, but settled his focus on composing at the Conservatory. While in school, Nadezhda von Meck hired Debussy as a music teacher for her children; “through travel, concerts and acquaintances, she provided him with a wealth of musical experience.” These involvements exposed Debussy to new composers and styles like Russian composers Borodin and Mussorgsky, which influenced his work. In 1884, after formally beginning composition studies at the Paris Conservatory, Debussy won the Grand Prix de Rome, a scholarship in fine arts, for his work titled L’Enfant prodigue. This honor awarded him the opportunity to study in Rome. He was particularly inspired by Wagner’s operas during his time in Rome. The inspiration influenced his style as a young composer. Debussy cut his stay in Rome short after two...
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...the first, this section is in the minor mode, which changes the mood of the listener. This section develops into a triumphant march and uses dynamics to move the listener closer to the action. In a particularly avant-garde manner, Debussy changes the mode of this movement frequently to depict mood and setting changes. As the middle march section ends, a familiar version of theme A returns in the major mode. This section plays variations of the melody from the original theme A with the same overall tempo and mood.
Debussy’s ability to compose work based on paintings and French poetry and his innovative interpretation of musical characteristics made him one of the most influential composers of his time. His critically acclaimed library of music carved a path for the unconventional composers who would follow and continue to innovate musical characteristics and style.
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