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Claude Debussy also known as Claude Achille Debussy - View Sheet Music for this Artist
  • a.k.a.: Claude Achille Debussy
  • French
  • 22nd August 1862 - 25th March 1918
  • You might know him for the music for the fountain scene in Ocean's 11 (Clair de Lune), founder of Impressionism in music

Born into a bourgeois home, Debussy's life is characterised by an unusual lack of struggle with which so many composers are burdened. Aged ten he entered the Paris Conservatory for ten years, which was followed by three years of study at the Villa de Medici in Rome. Aged 32 he published his first major orchestral work: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the afternoon of a Faun), which raised his international profile considerably. His reputation for the use of unusual texture and disregard for conventional harmony was further enhanced with the performance of his first opera Pelléas et Mélisande. Debussy was struck down with cancer of which he died prematurely whilst German shells were bombarding Paris during the First World War.

Debussy is one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, with his innovations in harmony, tone colour, orchestration and rhythm advancing the fluidity of Western music and even influencing film music and jazz. Inspired by socialising with Impressionist poets and painters, Debussy became the founder of the Impressionist school of music. Impressionists are concerned with giving an impression of something, an outline, rather than a precise definition and thus avoid the direct, conventional and blatant way of description. An encounter with a Javanese Gamelan orchestra at the world fair in Paris (1889) exposed Debussy to pentatonic scales and unusual melodies and rhythm. This meeting is said to have further inspired Debussy to pursue his new techniques of orchestration and composition, and his approach may be best summed up by a comment to one of his students: Collect impressions. Don't be in a hurry to write them down. Because that's something music can do better than painting: it can centralise variations of colour and light within a single picture - a truth generally ignored, obvious as it is .

Debussy wrote many famous works that will be familiar to you probably not by title, but by their melodies. Some of these include: Ibéria, Préludes (I and II), Images (I and II), Children's Corner and Suite Bergamasque.

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