25 Aug 2010

Composer of the week – Claude Debussy

Happy late birthday to Claude Debussy, who was born on August 22, 1862.
Debussy was a hugely talented pianist and composer, who attended the Paris Conservatoire, and the Académie des Beaux-Arts. He was quite adventurous and experimental, even as a student, and his use of dissonances and strange intervals was not enjoyed by his teachers. Of him, French composer Jules Massenet said “He is an enigma.” Quite a good summary of the man, and his music.
This is the first movement of his String Quartet in G Minor, one of his earlier works, performed by the Cypress String Quartet.

Debussy started to compose one of his most famous works, La Mer, in 1903 in France and completed it in 1905 on the English coast in Eastbourne. (He was in England at the time because his fashion model wife tried to kill herself after he abandoned her for his also-married lover, who was carrying his unborn child. Quite the scandal.)
This is the third movement of La Mer, performed by Claudio Abbado with the Berlin Philharmonic. Join us February 4-5 as the Utah Symphony perform La Mer, conducted by Julian Kuerti.