Borne to a family of meagre standings, Claude Debussy was borne on 22 August, 1862, at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. Debussy showed talents as a pianist by the age of nine. His gift was encouraged by Mme. Mauté de Fleurville, who was associated withe Chopin. In 1873, he entered the Paris Conservatoire. There he studied the piano and composition. Further, he eventually won, in 1884, the Grand Prix de Rome withe his cantata entitled L'Enfant prodigue.
During his early year, Debussy was exposed to many extremes. One such extreme was his living conditions. His parents could only afford to reside in a poor French suburb. The world of the upperclass had opened to him when he, unexpectedly, came under the patronage of a Russian millionairess, Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck. She engaged him to play duets withe her and her children. During his long summers at the Conservatoire, he travelled withe his patron to her palatial estates across Europe. At this time, in Paris, Debussy fell in love withe a beautiful singer, Blanche Vasnier, the young wife of an architect. During this time in his life, she inspired many of his works.
As the winner of the Grand Prix de Rome, Debussy was given a three year stay in the Villa Medici, in Rome, where he was to pursue his creative work. Debussy fled from the Villa Medici, only after two years, and returned to Blanche Vasnier in Paris. During the early years of his life, Debussy was associated withe many women--some of doubtful reputation. One of his mistresses, Gabrielle Dupont, threatened suicide. His first wife, Rosalie Texier, whom he married in 1899, did shoot herself, though not fatally. Also, as is sometimes the case with artists of passionate intensity, Debussy held many thoughts of suicide.
In 1905, Debussy's illegitimate child was borne. He had divorced Rosalie, in 1904, only to marry his daughter's mother, Emma Bardac. The scandal, gossip, and rumours drove him to seek refuge, for a time, in Eastbourne, England. In 1908, for his daughter, nicknamed Chouchou, he wrote the piano suite Children's Corner. The sensitive nature of his perception coupled withe his spontaneity facilitated his acute understanding of the child mind.
Debussy's enquiring mind challenged the traditional orchestral usage
of instruments. Hence his development of the "21-note scale" designed to
drown the sense of "tonality." Nevertheless, his method was never adhered
to in the inflexible manner that was Schoenberg's 12-note scale. During
the latter part of his life, Debussy created an alter ego, "Monsieur Croche,"
with whom he carried on imaginary conversations about the nature of art
and music. Debussy died of cancer in Paris on 25 March, 1918, while the
city was being bombarded withe German guns. It is certain that he would
have taken part in the leading movements in composition of the years following
the first World War, had his life not ended.
SOLO PIANO: Deux Arabesques (1888); Suite bergamasque
(1890-1905); Estampes (1903); Images, two sets (1905 and
1907); Children's Corner (1908); Douze Préludes,
two books (1910 and 1913); Douze Études, two books
TWO PIANOS: En blanc et noir (1915).
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
(completed 1894); Nocturnes (1899); La Mer (1905); Images (1912).
Jeux (first performed 1913).
OPERA: Pelléas et Mélisande, on a
text by Maeterlinck (first performed 1902).
CANTATA: L'Enfant prodigue (1884), awarded Grand
Prix de Rome; La Damoiselle élue (1888), text by Dante Gabriel
Rosetti, trans. By Gabriel Sarrazin.
MUSIC: Le Martyre de Saint-Sébastien (first
CHOIR: Trois Chansons de Charles d'Orléans
SONGS: Ariettes oubliées (1888); Fêtes
galantes, two sets (1892 and 1904); Proses lyriques (1892-1893);
Chansons de Bilitis (1897); Le Promenoir des deux amants
(1904-1910); Trois Ballades de François Villon (1910); Trois
Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé (1913).
String Quartet (1893); Syrinx (1912), for unaccompanied flute; Sonata for Cello and Piano (1915); Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp (1915); Sonata for Violin and Piano (1917).