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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 22 August 1862Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Yvelines, France
Date of Death 25 March 1918Paris, France  (colon cancer)
Birth NameAchille-Claude Debussy

Mini Bio (1)

Claude Debussy was born in St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, France. His father was a salesman and kept a china shop. His mother was a seamstress. Some traumatizing events in his childhood caused him a depression and he never spoke about his early years. Later he could not compose without having his favorite porcelain frog.

Debussy's piano teacher, Mme. Maute, had been a student of Frédéric Chopin. She sent Debussy to the Paris Conservatory, where he studied from 1872-84 with César Franck, Ernest Guiraud and others. He lived at the castle of Nadezhda von Meck and taught her children. She was a wealthy patroness of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and eventually Debussy played all pieces by Tchaikovsky in addition to other classical repertoire. She also took Debussy on trips to Venice, Vienna and Moscow. In Vienna he heard "Tristan und Isolde" by Richard Wagner and later admitted that it had influenced him for a number of years.

Debussy won the Prix de Rome twice--in 1883 and 1884--and the money covered his studies at the Villa de Medici in Rome for the next four years. In Rome he met Franz Liszt and Giuseppe Verdi and heard more of Wagner's music, which made a strong impression on him. In 1888 and 1889 he went to listen to yet more of Wagner's music at the Bayreuth Festspiehaus. There he was very impressed by "Parsifal" and other of Wagner's works. He used the Wagnerian chromaticism for upgrades to his own tonal harmony in "Cinq poems de Baudelaire" (1889).

Debussy became influenced by the impressionist poets and artists in the circle of Stéphane Mallarmé. In 1890 he wrote his most famous music collection for piano, "Suite bergamasque", containing "Clair de Lune". His "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" (1892) continued the most productive 20-year period in his life. He composed orchestral "Nocturnes", "La Mer", "Images" (1899-1909), and the intricate ballet "Jeux" (1912) for "Ballets Russes" of Sergei Diaghilev. He was fascinated with Maurice Maeterlinck's play "Pelleas et Melisande", which inspired him to compose the eponymous symbolist opera which was praised by Paul Dukas and Maurice Ravel.

In 1908 Debussy married singer Emma Bardac after they had a daughter, Claude-Emma. Debussy called her Chou-Chou and composed for her the collection of piano pieces "Children's Corner Suite" (1909). His piano masterpiece "Preludes" were composed in 1910-1913. The twelve preludes of the first book are alluding to Frédéric Chopin, with more provocative harmonies, especially the "La Cathedrale Engloutie". In the second book of twelve preludes Debussy explored avant-garde, with deliciously dissonant harmonies and mysterious images.

The beginning of WW I and the onset of cancer depressed Debussy. He left unfinished opera, ballets and two pieces after stories by Edgar Allan Poe that later were completed by his assistants. He died on March 25, 1918, in Paris.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (2)

Emma Moyse (20 January 1908 - 25 March 1918) (his death) (1 child)
Marie Rosalie Texier (19 October 1899 - 2 August 1905) (divorced)

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