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Claude Debussy—a music appreciation lesson for kids
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was a French composer. He started studying music when he was nine. From age ten on he studied in the Paris Conservatory time. He won the Prix de Rome while at the Paris Conservatory and got a scholarship to the Academy of Beaux-Arts. Debussy's music was different from the typical music of his day. This meant his works were not always liked and were even ridiculed. He liked using some dissonant chords, different harmonies, a lot of pedal (in piano music), and other features that were new for European music.
Debussy's musical style is often titled as "impressionism." Debussy himself, however, disliked that term. The style of impressionism is also found in the visual arts: there are several artists who did impressionists paintings, for example Monet.
Debussy composed a lot of music for piano and for voice, a fair amount for the orchestra, and a little bit for other individual instruments. He also wrote several ballets.
Debussy was married twice. He had one daughter called Claude-Emma (nicknamed Chouchou) with his second wife, Emma Bardac. Debussy died from colorectal cancer in 1918 in Paris while the city was being bombarded (it was World War I). His only daughter only outlived him by one year—she died from diphtheria in 1919.
Listen to Debussy
Debuyssy's music is different from other classical music, such as Mozart or Beethoven. It has a different sound to it, because Debussy liked using new-sounding harmonies and chords. Use the resources below to listen to at least two pieces of Debussy's music. Debussy's pieces are usually descriptive of something. When you listen, can you visualize (see) in your mind what the music is depicting? You can also draw if you'd like. Compare your thoughts and feelings with those around you.
Audios of Debussy's music
Clair de Lune (piano). Performed by Robin Alciatore.
La Mer, part 1. Performed by US Air Force Band.
First Arabesque (piano). Performed by Glen W. Prillaman.
Mazurka (piano). Performed by Benoit Mortgat.
Audios on external websites
Audios of Debussy's music from Musopen!
Piano Society - Debussy