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GENRE VS INDIVIDUALISM : CLAUDE DEBUSSY AND E VOLVING PARISIAN ART ISTIC CONSUMPTION IN THE L ATE NINETEENTH CENTU RY By ABIGAIL CARISSA LINDO A Thesis Submitted to the Divisions of Humanities New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Maribeth Clark Sarasota, Florida May, 2012
CONTENTS Acknowledgements iii Abstract iv Introduction: Resistance to Authority and Conservatism 1 Debus sy and the Conservatoire 2 Argument Structure 8 Chapter I: Influencing Paris I ( Wagner, Germany, and French Nationalism) 12 The Franco Prussian War and World War I 12 The Spirit of Nationalism 15 Chapter 2: Influencing Paris II (The Allure of Exoticism and Universal Expositions) 25 Nineteenth Century Parisians and Exoticism 26 Debussy and the Piano 29 Pagodes 31 Chapter 3: Paris Influencing (Impressionist and Symbolist Associations) 38 The Imp ressionism of Clair de Lune 41 Impressionism as a Musical Categorization 43 Debussy and Ravel 44 The Roots of Symbolism 49 Impressionism and Symbolism as Musical Movements 51 Conclusi on: The Issue of Isms 55 References 64
iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This paper would not have reached completion without the continued support of my various educators, especially my beloved sponsor, Maribeth Clark. Thanks so much MbC. You taught me how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Th ank God this is over. Special Thanks and Ridiculous Love: MIM MGJ LGH
iv GENRE VS INDIVIDUALISM : CLAUDE DEBUSSY AND T HE EVOLVING PARISIAN ARTISTIC LANDSCAPE Abigail Carissa Lindo New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT This thesis i s an exploration into the musical thought of French fin de sicle composer (Achille) Claude Debussy (1862 1918) to prove he is more the epitomic Parisian artist of this time than he desired. This claim is based on his personal correspondence and critical w ork in which he detests bourgeois consumption as perpetuated by his creative peers in an increasingly consumerist time. The paper begins academic authority to highlight his e arly development and student years. It then discusses how movements within Paris i nfluenced the composer, namely Impressionism and Symbolism, before concluding with a discussion of categorization and individualism tie all presented themes together. These particular topics are illuminated to show were seemingly contradictory but relied on his
v ability to maintain his own musical identity against them. Categorization is an underlying thread throughout the piece as the famed composer disliked any associations critics often gave to his work. ______ _____________________________ Maribeth Clark Division of Humanities
1 Introduction ance to Authority and Conservatism A veritable intellectual and artistic exchange occurred in Paris from t he late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century. This web of ideas connected visual and musical artists a s well as literary figures, and encouraged the merging of these different arts. Part of being a creative individual i n the Parisian artistic environment at this time was having the ability to draw inspiration from a variety of places to create a distinct s tyle that was uniquely your own as i ndividualism was of utmost importance. French composer [Achille] Claude Debussy (1862 1918) suited this criterion, although he wanted to be viewed differently and wrote of himself as being outside of this developing Fren ch musical approach. As a composer and musician, Debussy avoided classification throughout his career. He denounced the label of Impressionist or Symbolist, two movements he is commonly associated with. Debussy did not want to be linked to any particular m ovement because it was his belief that this would represent his dependence on the movement or other individuals involved, diminishing his genius. Despite his desire to seem removed from the artistic developments occurring around him Debussy was susceptible to the influence of his surroundings. Whether it came in the form of experiencing other, exotic cultures and their peoples through the sights and sounds of a world exp osition, or partaking in various artistic movements flourishing in his nation D ebussy w as an active participant in the aesthetic landscape of Paris.
2 Debussy and the Conservatoire While F rance was the place of Debussy's birth, it was also the area where he thrived as a music student, to later become one of the most famed composers of the fi n de siecle 1 Born to a middle class family in an area of France known as Saint Germain en Laye (located just outside of Paris), Debussy received no formal education as a child but showed propensity for mu sic from an early age. He entered the Paris Conserv atoire in 1872 after taking private piano lessons with a family friend. While his father desired for Debussy to become a sailor, this aspiration was soon abandoned when he recognized his iano virtuoso. While Debussy displayed skill at playing the piano, he composed better than he played. Young Debussy prospered at the Conservatoire, receiving a certificate of merit for solfge and gaining recognition for his bold harmonization and unusual compositions. His behavior at the conservatoire gave him the reputation of a risk taker, something that Debussy relished. He knew how to challenge his educators while staying in their good graces. The ambitious composer experimented with harmony that was n ot being taught in his classes, going as far as to teach his class in the absence of the teacher. 2 But he was smart enough to restrain himself and conform to earn the Prix de Rome Debussy won the prize on his second attempt in 1884, although his peers fou nd themselves disappointed with the unadventurous nature of his winning piece prodigu e [The Prodigal Son] He had gone against his nature of challenging the 1 This term is F 2 Simon Trezise, The Cambridge Companion to Debussy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) 27.
3 hegemony of the Conservatoire, creating a relatively tame cantata following the instruct away for later or [he] will never have the Prix de Rome 3 Aside from respect and recognition, the prize was a scholarship that gave Debussy the opportunity to live in Rome at the luxurious Villa Medici for three years of paid musical study. Although Debussy knew what he was competing for he admits in a June 1903 article for Gil Blas bored om, and of all the worries that inevitably go together with any form of official 4 With his success came a feeling of constraint, which became evident as the young composer failed to submit his required compositions on time He forfeited the r emainder of his prize time since this prize turned out to be a prison sentence, one that separated Debussy from his home and inspirational source of Paris. 5 The fact that he was ill during this period of time caused his stay to be all the more miserable. He wrote to his friend Eug ne Vasnier in 1885 and said of his illness that it Has understandably, done nothing whatsoever to increase my sympathy for the Villa. On so miserable and fever all too easy to come by. 6 others may ris sooner than you expect. 3 Simon Trezise, The Cambridg e Companion to Debussy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 28. 4 Fran ois Lesure and Richard Langham Smith, eds., Debussy on Music (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1977), 211. From a Gil Blas article on 10 June 1903. 5 Trezise, The Cambridge Companion t o Debussy 29. Debus sy left after two years at the V illa 6 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987) Villa Medici
4 lays me out and leaves me helpless. 7 These letters giv e a glimpse of how Debussy wrote, specifically showcasing his negative tone. Very descriptive in his distaste for his study arrangements, Debussy wrote numerous letters during his stay at the Villa a nd none of them are positive. They show how Debussy worke d in a situation outside of his normal creative environment. think of my work is of 8 ), separating himself physically (and mentally) could not be beneficial to his attitude towards his peers, instructors, or Rome. Since this was the young composer's first time visiting Rome his experiences during his stay, sic kness and isolation included, shaped the way he thought of the area itself, creating a greater longing for Paris. A very interesting part of this passage circles around co mment is referring to something larger, like Debussy's overall career as a composer. He was addressing his distaste for the need to prepare controlled (assigned) compositions, like those required of him during his stay in Rome. The fact that Debussy addres ses his pride further solidifies this conclusion. While Debussy decides that the environment he faces in Rome is not conducive to his usually productive creative processes the young composer later says 7 Le sure and Nichols, Debussy Letters while he was spending time at the Villa Medici after winning the Prix de Rome. 8 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard Univ ersity Press, 1987), Villa Medici
5 I may as well take advantage of the one good thing th e Villa has to offer (as you said), complete freedom to work, in order to produce something original and not keep falling back into old habits. Of course, the Institut habits are the only ones that count. So mu freedom and my own way of doing things. If my physical freedom is circumscribed, at least I can get my own back on the intellectual front. But seriously, the nub of the matter is that my sort of music is the only sor t I can write. What I still have to find out is whether I shall be strong enough to do it. Anyway, there are some people for whose 9 While he decided to make greater attempts at pr oducing his required compositions, he expresses the need to state that he will only be doing it on his own terms. He addressed the Institut which accommodates the various prize winners, and states that they view any new form of creative thought outside of their guidelines to be dangerous. While negativity ma y only b of his feelings about being in Rome, it communicates his overall attitude towards authority and desire to break free of the cons training musical limitations placed on him by his teachers at the Conservatoire. This can also be seen as Debussy measuring his own musical/creative capacity in terms of what he has been exposed to. He was not challenged or intellectually stimulated by the instructors at the Villa or his peers. Debussy considered himself superior to his peers and, therefore, thought the work he was required to complete to be beneath him. He found it challenging to submit work because he found it hard to work within the boun daries of what was considered acceptable. but this rebellious period was one in which Debussy was attempting to establish his own aesthetic. The Institut which encouraged Debussy to grow as a composer and acknowledg ed his potential by 9 Lesure and Nichols, Debussy Letters while he was at the Villa Medici
6 awarding him with the Prix de Rome the fact that, once a laureate, his first care had been to forget everything he had been 10 But he could not become a laure ate without the knowledge he acquired there. Possibly Debussy believed it would benefit him to distance himself from this establishment. Although Debussy re jected the conservatism that was taught to him during his Conservatoire years, this a cademic success was necessary for him to succeed with his avant garde thinking towards the creation of music and become successful later in his life. His educational background allowed him to his 11 In comparison to other composers he befriended D ebussy was the most musically educated, having entirely completed his Conservatoire studies and received the Pri x de Rome 12 It is surprising t o learn that more than any of his contemporaries, Debussy, who hated the idea of the professional musician, was himself the most professional musician. But it was this professionalism, with his advanced understanding of harmo ny and counterpoint following a successfully completed traditional conservatoire education, 10 Leon Vallas, Claude Debussy: His Life and Works (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1973) 40. 11 Henry C. Phi l lips, Music and Letters 13.3 (Jul., 1932), pp. 298 311. http://www.j stor.org/stable/726316 (accessed March 12, 2012), 307. 12 Simon Trezise, The Cambridge Companion to Debussy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 28. It is worth comparing Debussy with Ravel, who also struggled with Conservatoire authority, b ut w ho entered for the Prix de R ome five times, and on the final occasion did not get beyond the first round because his fugue contained parallel fifths and ended on a chord containing a major seventh. Satie, who was uncompromisingly anti establishment, left t he Conservatoire without any qualifications, though he received a certific ate in counterpoint from the mo r e authoritarian Schola Cantorum at the age of thirty
7 which allowed him to challenge tradition with his innovative and imaginative approach to composition. This stands as a great contradiction in the life of a very con trary composer and man. By understan ding, rather than avoiding his contradictions one can of the most famous French composers. The overall a im of this thesis is to examine D ebussy's identity as the epitome of the Parisian fin de siecle artist whose seemingly unstable identity reflects the influence of the changing aesthetics in nineteenth cen tury Europe. He achieved mastery of the conservatoire curriculum but maintained a compulsion to move beyond it (and even destroy it). Because of the unstable times in which Debussy lived and composed he saw an imperative for a political side to his music t hat resisted the bourgeois mainstream of Parisian musical taste although he was still susceptible to it. Categorization will be an issue throughout, as Debussy h ad issues with this behavior and its limitations due to his desire to uphold individualism. Alt hough he did not want to be included in any established categorization he also did not desire for one to be created around his style. Categorical distinctions are not solely put in place to identify a piece of music or a group of composers, but serve as a and persuasive but its effect can be to shape, and even to condition, our 13 13 Grove Music Online Oxford Music Online http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed March 12, 2012)
8 repetition. 14 Genres operate by codifying past reputations and enabling future repetitions. In other words, genre utilizes the fact that history repeats itself a nd recognizes commonalities in the work of different individuals and in various movements. But it is possible for categorization to be e of this, there is no intention t o classify him bu t to release him from banal classifications. Argument Structure Chapter one and two address influences on Debussy and Parisian culture from outside of Paris, first addressing the relationship between Debussy and Wagner and then touching on the 1889 Paris E xposition ( and the issue of exoticism). While Debussy the student learned about and loved the work of German composer Richard Wagner and excelled in every musical aspect through the guidance of his teachers, his entire disposition soon shifted following th e completion of his studies. As a student he resisted a rebellious nature but as an established composer, Debussy answered to no one Through his musical criticism sought to teach others in the music community about what music could be versus what they ha ve been taught musi c was ( without using musical jargon ) 15 Part of his sometimes outlandish views circled around Wagner who m he grew to loathe. Chapter two explores what Debussy found so offensive about Wagner, especially the Parisian attraction to his da ted aesthetic. At the 1889 Paris 14 Samson, 15 Musical jargon is used here in reference to actual musical terminology to describe the form of composition or the musical conventions used.
9 Exposition numerous French artists were exposed to various aspects of Asian culture. Debussy was especially interested in the Javanese gamelan that was on display. The s ounds i t created affected the way Debussy viewed his o wn compositional technique, especially in regards to piano music. Debussy and the majority of Parisian artists at the time were sympathetic to exoticism. Later in his career Debussy would encourage his peers to strive for creating music that was more Frenc h. But it was not clear what would constitute as French How could a purely French music be made, especially by a composer who was interested in exoticism and heavily influenced by foreign composers? Surely associating with a French artistic moveme nt w ould produce a more French music. would not make sense. This concept of connection and rejection with/of French artistic movements will be the focus of chapter three. A young Deb ussy mingled in the various creative movements taking place in Paris in an attempt to define himself as an artist and his country as a center of art. Both Impressionism, which lasted from about the 1870s to the 1890s, and Symbolism, which lasted from the 1 880s to the 1900s, began as French movements although they spread and gained popularity among artists in other European nations, including Belgium and Russia. While Debussy aimed to rebel against the previously defined and academically accepted limits of e xpression, rebelling against the Wagnerian approach that he admired in his conservatoire years, he agreed with Gesamtkunstwerk, or total artwork which merged dance, poetry, and music. With this aim Debussy lent himself to working with poets, like Mallarme and
10 Verlaine. experimentation with poetry, his recognition as an Impressionist composer led to the as been used in nearly fifty major motion picture soundtracks. The Impressionist title is more approachable, programmatic, and more natural. In contrast the complexity of Symbolism borders on the occult. Debussy inadvertently links with only certain aspect s of each movement in describing his musical ideals although neither movement could properly describe what Debussy aimed to do in his music. Impressionism was a visual art movement, while Symbolism was a literary and visual art movement. Neither was rooted in music, and neither was used to describe music prior to Debussy. These and conservatism of this period and how it was a current that flowed through the various creati ve movements that were taking place in Paris at the time. The statements Debussy makes in regards to the music of others in his numerous reviews serve vitally in the composition of this argument. Since important friendships punctuated creative transitions in Debussy's life, the correspondences between Debussy and his friends will also serve as an invaluable source of information This thesis will demonstrate Debussy's apropos arrival within the Parisian musical culture and social climate, and denote his functionality as a composer and as a Frenchman. While this investigation into the life of a man of many contradictions will lead to the analysis of his thought, life, and work in a manner that pit s it against itself, it will allow for a greater
11 understanding of his reasoning. There is one quotation that will be utilized to grasp the general idea of this paper. As Debussy wrote in 1907 to his friend Jacques Durand Generally speaking, I feel more and more that music, by its very essence, is not something that can flow inside a rigid, traditional form. It consists of colours and of the backs of the Masters who in mos t cases were writing no more than the music of their period! Bach was the only one who saw ahead to the truth. In any case, music is a 16 pleasing function less chord progressions will also be addressed. Debussy int ended to demonstrate the potential of Parisian artists and positively represent his nationality by creating a new, somewhat defiant (yet approachable) type of work that distinguished him from everything else that was being produced, greatly assisting in th e transition from a late Romantic style of music including the popular dance oriented style of music Parisians were accustomed to, to a more modernist music. 16 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
12 Chapter 1: Influencing Paris Wagner, Germany, and French Nationalism As a student a t the Paris Conservatoire Debussy encountered and learned from Paris with the premieres of his entertaining operas that suited the tastes of the social elite and made th Germany and its interaction (influence on) his native France was a sore topic for the composer. As a citizen of occupied France in an era of nationalism Debussy maintained an awareness of self that wa s shaped in opposition to other nations, especially Germany. Their artistic as well as military presence i n his home during war time encouraged these feelings, but Debussy had a complex relationship with the composer and viewed his influence over Parisian creativity as toxic because he recognized its ability to hinder the progress of music in Paris and abroad. Debussy understood on his conventions: What Wagner did was the be ginning and it was up to those who followed to build on it. He began the process of unraveling harmony and breaking from the traditional styles. Debussy moved this for ward and desired for others to do the same, a process that further challenged the categor the music of those who followed him. The Franco Prussian War and WWI While Debussy the composer readily answered to few artisti c associations or verified many, h e was a proud Parisian all of his life. He was a child at the time of the
13 Franco Prussian War (1870 71). In 1871 his father, Manuel Debussy, was imprisoned for his activity with the commune after France lost the war with Germany. When a ten year old D ebussy entered the Paris Conservatoire the city w as recovering from its defeat. While Debussy was young at the time of these events they affected the way he confronted with similar feelings as World War I began in 1914 and he would have t o e xperience the occupation of his home a nd creative center. For the majority of the war Debussy lived outside of Paris but wrote to many of his comrades regarding his feelings y 17 He c ontinues to say atom hurl miserably petty! It makes me envious of Satie and his real job of defending Paris as a corporal. 18 As for music, I confess that for months I no longer knew what it was; the familiar sound of the piano had become something hateful. Pythagoras working on his mathematical problems right up until a soldier killed him, Goethe writing The Elective Affinities during the French occupation of Weimar, these are admirable intellectual achievements. I 19 the face of war since he lacked Debuss mere hobby, or something less important. This mirrors his feelings about his own role as 17 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Pres s, 1987), 291 292 and August 18, 1914 letter s to Jacques Durand. 18 Lesure and Nichols, Debussy Letters Durand. 19 Ibid ert Godet.
14 seemingly self 20 This was the value of nation to him, a value greater than that of self. One of the reasons D ebussy sought for h is French comrades to produce a French 21 Debussy feel useless. He believed that at his age an d with his lack of military experience 22 He may have been more depressed during this period of time because of his illness, which prevented him from h to blow a hole in an oak 23 And this desire to offer his body may have been motivated by the fact that he felt his would not be active much longer. One of the reasons Debussy created was for France: Paris w as his place of residence, socialization, and inspiration. With France facing destruction his need to create was being devastated as well. But what forced him to relearn music following a period of inactivity was the desire to serve his country and honor the so ldiers the only way he knew how : I wa nt to work not so much for myself, as to provide proof, however small, that 30 20 Ibid, 292. 21 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 290. 22 Lesure and Nichols, Debussy Letters Durand. 23 Ibid 296. From D to Jacques Durand.
15 before obliterating it. 24 I think o f the youth of France, want only m own down by those Kultur merchants, and of its contribution to our heritage, now forever lost to us. The a nyone back to life. 25 Debussy decided to make music but had to acknowledge its current unimportance; he connection to France clear and shows that his music was not ma de solely as something to define himself but as something he knew could define his nation. The music he still recognized the power of the arts and their ability to affect emotions and constitute national identity. This soldiers were physically attacking France but could not hinder its creative output. He knew that Germany defeated France in the Franco Prussian war and there was a the only way he could, despite his admiration for German Ku ltur The Spirit of Nationalism Numerous musician s and composers gravitated to nineteenth century Paris since it was an increasingly commercial and capitalist creative arena where opera had a devoted base of followers who would pay handsomely to be enterta ined. German composer Richard Wagner was among them. At the time of his first visit, a twenty year old Wagner was wide eyed and eager to please the Parisian audience in order to gain 24 Ibid 25 Ibid
16 respect with German audiences. This proved to be a daunting task, one tha t left Wagner weary of France and its people. It did not help his cause t hat he openly wrote anti Semitic a nd anti French remarks in a popular European publication: [The French] think only of entertainment, of amusement, of reaching as many people as possi ble, despite their protests that they aim for ennoblement through art. Effects of the moment are most important for them. The French are closed off from the German spirit... France is rotten with Jews and the Latins are powerless to defend themselves. 26 Co success. He initially made no attempt to learn French and was bitter since he was exiled from Germany because of his participation in the insurrection in Dresden. He found h imself struggling artistically and financially in a foreign land. 27 His image was further tarnished following the Franco Prussian War, further hindering his potential for s uccess. It is only after ten visits to Paris between 1839 and 1867 that Wagner gained some substantial recognition as a composer worth hearing in Paris. 28 French artistic and musical movements respected him as an artist, and valued his approach to opera and desire for a total artwork After his death in 1883, Wagner's fame s pread posthumously to the French Conservatoire, establishing his work as part of the typical c urriculum taught to all aspiring musicians and composers. Wagner's identity to the French co uld have been one of two things: A Germanized Frenchman or just a German composer implanted into the Gallic lifestyle. 26 Elaine Brody, P aris the Musical Kaleidoscope: 1870 1925 (New York: George Braziller, 1987) 30. 27 Brody, Paris: The Musical Kaleidoscope (1870 1925), 31. 28 Ibid 24.
17 29 Because Paris was the cultural and social center of France, where French ness was France as a whole. Following his return from Rome (af ter winning the Prix de Rome ) a twenty five year old Debussy frequented Parisian coffee shops and salon s, sitting with other musicians/composers and artists for hours to discuss the state of French art as he was shaping his own compositional style. A comra de of the Symbolist artists, Debussy was also a common fixture of the Sunday afternoon gatherings held at Mallarme's home. The Symbolists adored Wagner, but it is not clear whether they truly enjoyed that surrounded him. That is, 30 In either case, Debussy professed his true feelings for the composer in his articles published in Gil Blas and other publication s In 1903 he made this sarcastic comparison between a Wagner and three other great German composers: I will not dwell on the historical impossibility of Wagner being the first real German composer. What about Bach? Just a man who had a lot of children? Or Beethoven? A man who was so ill bred that he decided to become deaf so that he could better annoy his contemporaries with his last quartets? As for Mozart, it would be better if we did not mention him a mere sensualist who wrote Don Giovanni to aggravate the Germans. But for heaven's sake! These people are the very glory of Germany, and of such tremendous genius that few names can rank with them. Wagner, on the other hand, never did anything of real service to music, and he never did much for Germany eithe r. At present, it is busy arguin g: one side is blinded by the last rays of the Wagnerian sunset, and the other frantically holds onto the neo Beethovenian formula bequeathed by Brahms. And e might just as well 31 29 Simon Trezise, The Cambridge Companion to Debussy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 26. 30 Carl Dahlhaus, Between Romanticism and Modernism ( Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980 ) 6. 31 Fran ois Lesure and Richard Langham Smith, eds., Debussy on Music (New York: Alfred Knopf, Gil Blas article on 19 January 1903.
18 As Debussy questions Wagner's place in German musical history it becomes clear that congeniality was not the aim for French critics and Debussy was not valued at the publication for his vast musical knowledge or for his impressive body of work. Instead, he was obviously not impressed by much of the current musical approach d ominating Paris. He was valued because he was resolute with his strong opinions and said what was on his mind. After poking fun at other well known composers w ho he refers to as Wa gner from their ranks because Debussy believed that Wagner's inventive approaches to music were sophomoric and lacked true musical understanding: After some years of passionate pilgrimages to Bayreuth, I began to have doubts about the Wagnerian formula, or, rather, it seemed to me that it was of use only in the particular case of Wagner's own genius. He was a great collector of formulae, and these he assembled within a framework that appears uniquely his own only because one is not well acquainted with music. And without denying his gen ius, one could say that he had put the final period after the music of his time, rather as Victor Hugo summed up all the poetry that had gone before. One should therefore try to b after Wagner. 32 Debussy's belief that Wagner d id nothing for Germany p ossibly stemmed from his distaste with the foreign composer's obsession with winning over the Parisian public to gain respect in his native land rather than beginning the task in Germany. The thread that flows through this relations hip is the rising spirit of nationalism and how Debussy expressed it through his work and thought in the face of Wagner's French success. 32 Fran ois Lesure and Richard Langham Smith, eds., Debussy on Music, 74. From Gil Blas : April 1902.
19 the French Revolution that nationalism came to dominate Europe as a mode of thought 33 Since the spirit of nationalism was growin g strong in Europe during the nineteenth century composers who left their nation of origin to work in another carried their nat ionality with them and stood for it or pledged allegiance to the other nation. Although Debussy did not view Wagner as an individual who entirely upheld national honor through his musical career, in reality, the opposite is true. In his home country Wagn er was hailed as a nationalist and himself in relation to his nationality; he expressed his ambitions explicitly in terms of the 34 Although recognition came later than he would have d esired it gained further momentum with the completion and dispersing of his 35 The composer boaste after his lifetime, the more German 36 33 Carl Dahlhaus, Between Romanticism and Modernism (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980), 85. 34 Celia Appl egate and Pamela Potter, Music and German National Identity (Chicago: The Univ ersity of Chicago Press, 2002), 11. 35 Applegate and Potter, Music and German National Identity 11. 36 Ibid, 12.
20 too singul 37 It becomes clear that b oth Wagner and Debussy maintained a nationalist aim throughout their musical careers. However, some of Wagner's actions may have been misconstrued as being more nationalist than intended. For example, Wagner's German premiere of his Meistersinger libretto coincided with the Franco Prussian War and served as an inspiration to the troops as they defended their nation. This was not thologized as symbols of German nationalism primarily at the hands of critics, essayist, propagandists, and 38 How Debussy felt about Wagner was not entirely based on his musical practices or his overt influence on the Parisian musical environme nt, but on the composer's nationality. Debussy had a love hate relationship with Wagner, as the famed composer had a love hate relationship with Paris and its inhabitants. He believed that Wagner' s glory will always be to have summed up centuries of music something and only a German could attempt it. Our mistake was to keep trying for too any more than its forms! What could be interesting and surprising is what those who have fought in this war will do and think? French art needs to take revenge quite as seriously as the French army does! 39 Wagner and his achievement of formulaic composition, he reveals more about himself by stating in a negative tone that this approach to music was something a German would attempt. It is hard to isolate 37 Ibid. 38 Ibid. 39 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987)
21 the meaning of this statement. Debussy continues to co mpare the battle between he was about heralding change. While Debussy condemns what Wagner did he also acknowledges its importance by recognizing that the tastes of his ge neration will not change outside of what Wagner did, meaning that it had a profound effect on the Western musical world. Debussy finds fault in French artists following what Wagner had done, possibly because he viewed this change as a beginning, something other artists should build on rather than solely admire and imitate. In one of his final letters, written to his friend Robert Godet, Debussy elaborates on his opinions on foreign influence on French music: The worst horrors are forgotten y for the future. What will take a long time to remove are these false, heavy, foreign tastes that have insinuated themselves God knows how blindly and hypocritically into our ways of thinking, listening, even of feeling. For forty n playing at self effacement; even in France, the French were determined to cultivate thickheadedness and claimed to be lending some weight to our ideas! 40 This quote shows how much weight Debussy believed outside influence held on his nation, greater than war's devastation. H e understands that another culture imposing itself changes the overall culture of the imposed culture, reshaping everything about it thinking, listening, and feeling. This is important to address because Debussy's distaste with the sta gnant nature of musical thought in Paris was not just about Wagner or Germany but his involvement and influence o n French music. Debussy was not alone in his nationalist sentiments, as fellow contemporary French composer, Maurice Ravel (1875 1937) though 40 Lesure and Nichols, Debussy Letters ert Godet.
22 consciousness of musicians distinctively German is expansive, while our French 41 Ravel too wanted more creative associations to embody the French. He goes on to say that Nationalism does not deprive th e composer either of his personal soul or of its individual expression, for each creative artist has within him laws peculiar to his own being. These laws, peculiar to the artist himself, are, perhaps the most momentous elements at play in the whole pro cess of musical creation; they seem to be determined through an interplay of national and individual consciousness; and they can be imparted to the artist by no teacher, for they spring from him own heritage, and are first perceived only by himself. In ot her words nationalism took on a new skin with each individual that encouraged it, but each individual who encouraged it maintained the same aim. Ravel is stating that a greater body of nationalist work will rise from individuals who are more attuned their own understanding of self. For the self exists in the nation and creates the art for the nation but for the self as well. By better facilitating an art that glorifies the nation, one then is creating an art that better glorifies the self. This is why natio nal consciousness cannot be taught, because it is an individual discovery. And the weighty act of partaking in nationalism and failing brings shame not only to the composer but to the nation. Meaning that if the art created (in this case, music) is not wel l received it still serves as a receptor for national identification and shows foreigners the conscious thought (or lack thereof) occurring within the cultural and social sphere of a nation. Possibly Debussy was aware of the importance of his creative work 42 41 Arbie Orenstein, A Ravel R eader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990 ), 44. The quotations above are from a lecture Ravel gave at Rice Institute ( now Rice University) 42 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1987), 78. From his September 24, 1899 letter to Georges Hartmann.
23 The complex relationship between Debussy and Wagner is not one of composer against composer or simply man against man, but one of Frenchman against foreign musical domination. Each composer sought to uphold the ideals of, and positively represent their respective nations but went about doing so in different ways. Debussy wanted France to attain a greater national identity through the arts and aided th is goal by straying from the Romantic notions taught to him as a child. Debussy instead created his own aesthetic, playfully experimenting with taboo tonal and structural arrangements to break music from a preconceived mold. Wagner had a less daunting task with Germany already established as a musical epicenter that gave the world such talented composers as Brahms, Beethoven, and Weber. Wagner had to aim for similar greatness but did so by revolutionizing his medium. Debussy was not fighting a one sided ba ttle: Wagner attacked France and Debussy reacted in like manner. Wagner had negative things to say about France and its people, and felt that German art was superior to that of France (or any other nation for that matter). 43 Debussy was not against Wagner t he man, but allowed Wagner's life and influence in Parisian culture to influence his view of him. As nationalists both composers exhibit ed behavior typical to the cultural and social norms of their time. Debussy was not ignorant to or subdued by Wagner's creative prowess: It is not my concern to discuss Wagner's genius here. His force was undeniably dynamic. But its effect was all the greater because the way had been prepared by cunning musicians whose guile knew no bounds. For a long time, music suffered from what you may call a fever incurable in anyone who ventured near the marshy stench. A stable of worn out cart horses, Wagner crazy, followed willingly after his egotistical need for glory. But it is perhaps the extraordinarily anguished groaning in his music that is 43 Celia Applegate and Pamela Potter, Music and German National Identity (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002), 41.
24 responsible for the deep impression made by Wagner on the contemporary spirit: he has awakened the secret thirst for the criminal on some of the most famous minds of our age. 44 Debussy says that he doesn't wa b ut he only gives the leaves that comment open to ambiguity. What is clear is how Debussy conceptualized Wagner's hold over French music. Instead of merely acknowledging the po tency of Wagner's original thinking Debussy feared its potential to promote complacency in creative thought that would leave France dependent on outside influence. But this common ground with the composer. Debussy identified such a concrete notion of this Wagner's musical offspring. So it is possible that he was aware of their similarities but avoided forthrightly paying homage to the composer f or this reason 44 Fran ois Lesure and Richard Langh am Smith, eds., Debussy on Music (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1977), 97. Gil Blas article on 19 January 1903.
25 Chapter 2: Influencing Paris The Allure of Exoticism and Universal Expositions Musicologists have long celebrated the aftereffects of the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition on D ebussy and other Parisian composers and artists of his time. The fair was located in the heart of bourgeois Paris, on the Champ de Mars. Here art and industry from various countries collided to create a spectacle that attracted thirty million visitors over its six month duration with 61,722 exhibitors present. 45 A humanist celebration, centenary of the French Revolution of 1789. While the exposition had political and econ omic aspects the cultural aspect was most evident to partakers, many of whom were tourists, who experienced (first hand) the art, food and music of exotic nations. late st technology, the most exotic people, a maximum number of historic 46 While Parisian artists who tower to be impr essive, they were entranced by the Javanese dancers and music they encountered at the event. But representatives from other countries considered to be exotic were present, including Bolivia, China, Brazil, and African nations, and all of their music was wa was guaranteed to be different: 45 Annagret Fauser, (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2005) 1. The fair lasted from May 6 th to November 6 th 46 Annagret Fauser, 1.
26 The soundscape of the Exposition Universelle was woven from environmental noises and French bandstand music, from the musics of different people w hether Romanian or Javanese and the sounds of theater performances, from ceremonial music and dance music. Some of the sounds pervaded the open space; some were enclosed in theaters, concert halls, cafes; others became solitary experiences at the end of earphones. 47 Debussy would have desired to differentiate the common sounds he had already place. While the exotic spectacle within each pavilion was limited to its bounda ries, 48 When he stumbled onto the gamelan coming from the Javanese pavilion, he was entranced by its array of sounds colliding (somehow melodically) and the accompanying spectacle o f four young dancers following the rhythm of the music. At the time of the 1889 exposition an impressionable Debussy was 27 and upon hearing the ancient percussion orchestra of the gamelan his music was forever changed. Figure 1. Javanese D ancers (left) Fauser pg.177 ; Figur e 2. Program for Javanese Dancers (center). Fauser pg. 170 ; Figure 3. C aricature of gamelan players (right) Fauser pg. 177 Nineteenth Century Parisians and Exoticism Japanese culture had already been introduced to Par is at a previous exposition held in 1863, enabling the widespread knowledge and appreciation of Japanese 47 Ibid 7 8. 48 Ibid 163.
27 artifacts. Among early admirers were Impressionist painters, including Paul Degas, douard Manet, and Odilon Redon. Debussy was not far from them, draw ing inspirations for compositions, and their titles and cover art from Japanese prints and engravings. 49 In Paris ian b outiques devoted to the sale and procurement of Japanese art and artifacts opened and following the various expositions that took place in Paris from 1867 through 1900 saw booming success. Javanese culture did not permeate Parisian culture as thoroughly because artifacts from the distant island were not as readily available. Its very existence was a relatively new concept at the time. From th e European devotion to Japanese art and culture, known in France as le Japonisme and patronage of artifacts from other Eastern nations (including China, India, an d Java), known in France as le o rientalisme came a new visual art movement: art nouveau. Ori 50 Aside from oriental influences, Celtic art and gothic architecture al so played a major role in the development of art nouveau. With this style came depictions of life filled with flowering arabesque patterns and other organic forms. which would not be strange since the composer was open to exoticism like his Parisian artistic comrades. 49 For his orchestral tone poem La Mer as cover art. 50 Justine Hopkins, The Oxford Companion to Western Art Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Music Online http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed 03/12/2012).
28 At the turn of the nineteenth century there was a dramatic increase in travel and the idea of tourism grew in popularity Because of this wealthy Parisians took pleasure operas and at concerts. Artists of the time enjoyed exotic inspiration because the commercial musical vocabulary of the time had grown stale and exoticism was a suitable vehicle to reshape the established French creative output. In music, the public knew he people or group in nineteenth century include the use of unusual modes or scales, bare musical structures, static harmonies, and parallel fourths or fifths. Strange ins truments were also commonly used along distinctive repeated rhythmic or melodic patterns. 51 In summation, exotic music created by Western composers rarely transgressed the boundaries of nineteenth century European tonality and musical forms. Musical signifi ers of generic exoticism provided couleur locale as surface ornamentation in the form of characteristic melodic turns with augmented seconds, the use of modal or pentatonic scales in the musical foreground, the pervasiveness of dance rhythms such as the ha baera and the employment of unusual instruments over generally lush instrumentation. 52 Exoticism did not allow for true re creation of music from the designated nation but was as exoticism from nineteenth century Europe is a compilation of attributes that deviate from traditional musical practices imposed onto a new style to create something that 51 Ralph P. Locke Exoticism ." In Grove Music Online Oxford Music Onl ine http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed 03/12/2012). 52 Annagret Fauser, (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2005), 140.
29 has aspects vaguely similar to the music of a foreign culture. Possibly this was th eir intention. Debussy and the Piano For Debussy, exoticism was just a small part of his musical journey. But after hearing the gamelan his piano compositional technique evolved greatly. It is understood that Debussy and his friends were also quite impress ed with the Javanese dancers the lingering impact. The music of the gamelan is produced by administering calculated hits and strokes to various s ized gong and percussion instruments using hammers and seem to arise without any connection to sticks and more visible with the gamelan than with the piano. This may have been the strongest impression made on Debussy, as his piano music created following this encounter seems to be guided by this understanding, heavily reliant on pedaling and beautiful development through restraint. 53 While Debussy excelled in his studies and understood numerous instruments (later composing orchestral music as well as sonatas for various instrument groupings) the piano was the only instrument at which he excelled. 53 Paul Robe rts Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy (Portland: Amadeus Press, 1996), 153 155.
30 effective writing for the piano and perfectly express the idea that they set out to put 54 Philips goes on to say: To achieve both t hese aims is almost unique in the history of music. Beethoven could Chopin and Debussy alone have managed to express worthy thoughts in true pianistic idiom. It is all no doubt a matter of choosing the idea which is of a type that can be expressed adequately on a piano. Debussy has not only done this, but can always work out his idea into the technically exquisite miniatures which all his piano pieces are. To appraise th em more fully would be to go into unnecessary raptures over perfection. 55 While Philips purports Debussy to be superior to Beethoven in composing piano music and likens him to Chopin, something Debussy would view as an honor, British professor and author P aul Roberts leaves Beethoven out of the comparison. Instead, in Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy (1996) Roberts pits Debussy against Polish composer and pianist Frdric Chopin and Hungarian composer and pianist Franz Liszt: The piano music [of De bussy] has a similar breadth of expression [to his orchestral pieces], ranging from the borders of silence to the power and exhilaration of virtuosity or even, within the more restrained style of late eighteenth century high passion, as it often is with the music of his Romantic predecessors. 56 In his construct R robably why Roberts profiles D compositional practice and not his personal playing 54 Henry C. Phillips, Music and Letters 13.3 (Jul., 1932), pp. 298 311. http://www.jstor.org/stable/726316 (accessed March 12, 2012), 304. 55 Ibid. 56 Paul Roberts, Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy (Portland: Amadeus Press, 1996) 177 178.
31 style. He was not a virtuoso but wrote piano music in virtuosic form. Aside from this, from pianists who performed his pieces. When it comes to the music he wrote for the instrument Debussy viewe d the piano as a percussion i nstrument and desired to play it rhythmically, while paying close attention to dynamics, rather than having it sing, as was the notion of the Romantic composers. Pagodes A common example of the gamela Pagodes Estampes which was published in 1903. Scholars have long referred to this piano piece to demonstrate the ositional style as they believe that it 57 This quotation leads to an interesting point: since the creation of a transcription of gamelan mu sic is made based on a conceptualization of an experience heard by Western ears it is an impression. It is not oriental but oriental seeming. It is not the common sound in France at the time. This is the spirit of exoticism. Pagodes encapsulates the influence of the Javanese gamelan on feeling both melodically and rhythmically. 57 Roberts, Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy 156.
32 Figure 4. measures 15 18. Pago des remains diatonic in the key of B major, although there is a particular passage that seems to be leaning closer to F# major. This passage, which spans from measures 15 18 and repeats itself in measures 65 68 deviates from the rest of the piece. When listening to the piece it is clear that this brief passage of music is building up for a climax in measure 19 but is not a part of the music that comes before it. It is a series of transition measures in double treble staff with the bottom staff of all four measures featuring four sets of triplets on neighboring pitches of D 2 and C 2 With or without considering the botto m treble notes we could call either half of the measure many things. The first half could be an augme nted triad built on G missing a third, or a diminished triad built on C# (missing a third as well) among other things. Attempting this process of naming triad qualities proves unsuccessful for the other measures because this was not a requirement for Debus sy when composing. Debussy selected his notes not because of their function, but because of their sonorities in relation to the desired feeling he was attempting to containe
33 58 In his music structure through repetition replaces structure through harmonic motion: tic harmony is often independent of its tonal function (at least as we define tonal function according to the principles of common practice), we mean that he chooses a harmony first and foremost for its value as sound and sonority. There are many places in Debussy where a classical tonal progression can be perceived, with strong root motion in the bass, even as strong as dominant and tonic in imperfect or perfect cadence; but these are not what we consider to be distinctive of on functional dominant that is an immediately 59 This passage demonstrate s appreciation of exoticism, which was present throughout the different artistic, lit erary, and musical movements. This quotation upholds this point. Pagodes contains his Lisztian flour ishes a nd lack o f typical harmonic motion. More important called impressionistic piano style that came to the foreground at this time. It was realized in a movement away from the regular phrases, steady tempos, and dance rhapsodic style of freely changing textures and tempos, with more concentration on soft dynamics, weakly measured arpeggi os and simultaneous use of high and low registers; 60 exoticism was present in his 58 F ran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 59 Simon Trezise, The Cambridge Companion to Debussy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 200 3), 188 89. From by Mark Devoto. 60 Trezise, The Cambridge Companion to Debussy, 188. This section by Debussy Sound: Colour, Texture, Gesture
34 limited creative freedoms understood through conservatoire education. Debussy was influenced by exoticism, as he was influenced by the piano playing of Liszt and Chopin. He was processing all of these things as a part of his distinct style. While measures 15 18 of Pagodes interesting they are not the measures Figure 5. 14 It was a valuable passage to analyze because it creates a feeling of curiosity that perfectly leads into the next section. It dwells between two passages that do create a more exotic feeling: measures 11 14 and measur es 19 22, and seems t o be a transition leading to a triumphant passage. While these passages evoke an exotic feeling, the entire piece is very Debussy in that it features many of the ideas and styles Debussy includes in his compositions. Pagode measures 19 22.
35 Figure Pagodes 80. For example, in measures 78 97 w e hear what I refer to as swimming notes. These series of rapid arpeggios or sets of ascending or descending n otes swim from measure to measure, typically at the same level of subdivision. It is through the use of these liquid arpeggios, among other techniques, that Debussy takes on a Lisztian or Chopin esque Clair de Lu ne o clef and switching hands. This s tyle of figuration creates a flowing feeling. Until measure 50 because throughout the second half of the piece he continues to use these swimming notes in features another beautiful swimming passage. Figure 8 1 ). Looking through the score of Estampes there ar e certain gestures that stick out and Soiree dans Grenade
36 double treble or double bass clefs rather than a grand staff. This common feature Soiree almost every other measure and follow heavy usage of musical ornamentation, especially mordents and glissandos. In the bass chords are sta cked tall, some containing Jardins sous la pluie Estampes This piece features many areas where a slight change in the melody is created by the au gmentation of a single pitch (by Jardins from G major to B to A to C. It can be understood that this composition gives a glimpse o composition and how he stayed true to his inspiration. All of this is stated to demonstrate how exoticism influenced Debussy but not as a passing trend. He was not a part of this genre but he encountered the same stimuli that produced it. Exoticism, thr ough the gamelan and other first hand encounters with possibilities and imprinted on his signature style. He did not just use an unusual scale in this piece, but in many of hi s pieces since this was part of his style. He did not enjoy boundaries. So his intention was to experiment with musical possibilities although there is always something distinctively Debussy present to the ears. The Exposition Universalle of 1889 was a tur ning point for a young composer trapped by the mysteries of the imaginative mistress that is music. Encountering the gamelan music was essential to his musical journey, but the fact that he encountered it along with the spectacle of young
37 Javanese dancers left a haunting mental image that solidified what surrounded him sonically. After being a visitor at an event like this he no longer had to rely on the previous empty Western depictions of exoticism. He could sufficiently produce his own.
38 Chapter 3 Paris Influencing Impressionist and Symbolist Associations Paris was the origin of both Impressionism and Symbolism, two movements Debussy was linked to by cri tics and scholars Debussy, of course, rejected association with b oth movements, especially Impressionism, although he had acquaintances in both movements and found inspiration in Impressionist paintings and Symbolist literature. Neither movement fully suits Debussy's musical style and creative ideology, especially since neither movement was created as a musical one. While neither movement fully served his work well, both are worth exploring as they are commonly used in categorizing Debussy the composer and assist us in grasping his creative thinking. Visual artists in P aris during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries faced an inescapable state sponsored salon system that dominated Parisian artistic life. Beginning in 1737 artists who were members of the Academie Royale de Peintres et de Sculptre could have their works exhibited at the Salon Carr located in Paris. Originally for selection la y in the conservatism and academic approach of the pieces presented, with special attention paid to the subject matter. The jurors selecting artworks for scale, heroic compositions based on a close study of the 61 In 1795 all qualified artists could display their work since the Academie 61 Lesley The Oxfo rd Companion to Western Art, Ed. Hug h Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed March 12, 2012).
39 was replaced by the cole des Beaux Arts No membership requirement was necessary, and The Ecole des Beaux Arts gave up control of its exhibition (in 1881), all owing a number of comp eting shows to gain establishment. Individuals from varying levels of society could attend these events, often taking their cues from the criticism each artist received to determine whether they should purchase an artwork. 62 n tradition an eager group of aspiring painters used the studio of famed nineteenth century photographer Nadar to showcase their work S ocit Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs, et Graveurs the exhibition was the first of eight showings of its kind. It featured thirty visual artists, including Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas. These artists were also entrepreneurs, organizing the event as a business venture with 63 While the event was publicized in the press it was a failure financially, but succeeded in giving birth to what we now know as Impre ssionism. escribing the work he viewed at the first exhibition in 1874. It was not until 1877 that the artists involved used the term to collectively describe themselves. Impressionism w as born out 62 Marc Jordan Paris, Salon, In The Oxford Companion to Western Art edited by Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online http://www.oxfordartonline.com (accessed 03/12/2012). 63 The Oxford Companion to Western Art, Ed. Hug h Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed March 12, 2012).
40 defined programme 64 Visual Impressionism is commonly represented by the use of varying bright colors with close attention paid to the way light reflects. Inf ormal brushwork was heavily utilized, with painters using small strokes of varying colors to create a complete or solid effect from a distance. Impressionist artists also preferred to work en plein air 65 something many of the artists were exposed to during their artistic studies as it was the preferred way to conduct studies of nature and landscape painting. Impressionists sought to capture impressions of everyday life, mainly painting landscapes and everyday gatherings/scenes. The title of Post Impressioni sm was given to the many painters who followed this trend but emerged after the initial surge of artists that rose to popularity in the 1870s and 1880s. These painters include Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. This all pertains to Impressionism as a visua l art movement. Music does not play a role and it is strange Debussy is now acknowledged as an Impressionist composer for making music that had little to do with a visual art movement with which the terminology originated. It is not clear whether critics linked the music to the movement because of when Debussy was producing it or whether there was something distinct about the style that led to the association. Possibly the term means something else altogether, but all of these possibilities are worth explo ring to determine if Impressionist music really exists outside of being a flawed title. 64 65
41 The Impressionism Clair de Lune Suite Bergamasque features his most recognizable piece of piano Clair de Lune f or moonlight ). This p iece will be used to determine what the criterion for Impressionist music is or if any exist. Music cannot be explained in a visual manner. Notated music is understood visually but the music does not literally paint a picture. Instead, it may have been Deb mental images, but this desire would be perpetuated outside of the Impressionist tradition. Written in D flat major this piece can be conveniently broken into five sections: A 1 (measures 1 14), B 1 (15 26), C (27 51), A 2 (52 66), and C 2 (67 73). The piece begins as though it is asking a question: seemingly unsteady although the first measure is clearly on a I chord. Possibly the unsteadiness is created by the voicing of the notes, as the tonic is not voiced until the final third of the measure. 66 Either A section can be broken into two sections. Within A 1 the first 8 measures are followed by 6 measures with similar form. In A 2 the first 8 measures are followed by 7 measures in similar form before going into C 2 The first time section A is played the bass simply plays a quarter note tied to a half note while the bass line in A 2 is spelled out in the style introduced in C. This shows an integration of ideas. It is the former influencing the latter although the treble in A 2 is the same as in A 1 created through the usage of rising strings of notes bleeding together to create the feeling of ascension. This feature makes C the m ost popular sect ion and is common in 66 The measures of the piece can be sectioned into thirds as the tempo is 9/8.
42 The piece has a dreamy tone, aided by markings to play expressively with tempo rubato (for rhythmic freedom), with personality, and piano (or some variation of it) throughout. What is impressionist about the music then ? Everything mentioned pertaining to ormal as far as Each section of the piece has a valuable function in creating the idea the piece intends to convey. Considering the piece as an impression of moonlight, here is a scenario that is fitting to the feeling o f the piece: The entire piece takes place in quiet thought. An individual is sitting by the moonlight in solidarity to reflect (A sections), come to a revelation (B section), and find peace in this newly affirmed reality with previously established revelat ion in mind (C section). The first time the A and C sections are played they are being introduced: they are new concepts. The second time they are being recapitulated: they are firmly rooted and there is no need to acknowledge the revelation. This piece ca n easily evoke some impression of moonlight that would vary from person to person, but Debussy sought to create realities in his musical work. 67 Moonlight, in reality, is a concept and not a concrete object. It is seen in the distance, not entirely unders tood, but grasped as beautiful. It can be used to represent feelings, but it is not clear how Debussy meant to convey moonlight as a 67 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), Images ou a large part of realities in a manner of speaking what these
43 reality through the piece. Debussy did not take the task of titling his pieces lightly, so moonlight itself did play a role in the creation of the piece. But Impressionism did not, or at least any idea directly associated with the visual movement was not the motivator for the piece. concept. It is a se ries of notes arranged to evoke the feeling of ascension or looking upwards. It is mysterious at times. It is the atmosphere around the sky where the moon is p his musical imp ress ion not Impressionism. This form of impression is what the majority of composers do, especially those creating programmed music: create a musical impression of a concept or actual item to convey their understanding of it to their sical impression of moonlight is heard in this piece but prior to this piece he created a song of the same title using lyrics from a poem (of the same title) written by Symbo list poet Paul Verlaine (1844 1896). Both pieces have a melancholy sound but it is easier to understand what Debussy was trying to convey with the cantata sobbing in ecsta Impressionism as Musical Categorization It seems as though the genre of Impressionist music did not exist outside of Debussy. Dr. Ronald L. Byrnside, professor of music at Scott College, believes that the
44 68 He recognizes that Impressionism was use d since the 1870s in the discussion in the period from 1887 (when the term was fir st used in connection with his music) to 1910 (about when Impressionism became a term in general use), over 125 authors wrote books, articles, reviews, and studies of Debussy and his music, producing more pressionism cautiously, often apologetically, and rather late in the period 1887 1910. 69 70 This supports the idea that the creation of Impressionism as a musical label was haphazard and oftentimes used improperly because no other form of classification could be determined. Whether used for condemnation or simple categorization Debussy he was attempting to create realities. Debussy and Ravel The only other composer that is typically labeled Impressionists is Maurice R avel (1875 1937). By comparing the two composers we find a g reater understanding of how their similar styles symbolize a unified musical progression, even if it is not to be called 68 The Musical Quarterly 66.4 (Oct., 1980), 522 537. http://www.jstor.org/stable/741965 (accessed 03/12/2012), 523. 69 Byrnside, 7. 70 Ibid, 5 36.
45 similar approaches to music and both excelled at t was far superior to that of Debussy. Both Ravel and Debussy appreciated the work of Chopin and Liszt. Ravel studied piano with Charles de Beriot, the piano teacher of Ricardo Vines, who was one of the few pianists that Debussy trusted to properly perform his piano music. 71 Both Ravel and Debussy entered to win the prestigious Prix de Rome Debussy won on his second attempt while Ravel quit after meeting failure four Univ erselle of 1889 a fascinating 72 Both Ravel and Debussy were fond of nature and their music reflected this. 73 Ravel was a gifted Bolero tour de force 74 Both composers completed a single String Quartet although they are different in style. Lastly, both Ravel and Debussy positively manifested their avant garde ideas about music. an artist who sought Menuet featured in his 1890 (published in 1905) Suite Bergamasque for piano which features a period in the beginning (the first three measures) that sounds like a chaotic dance, signature fluid lines. 71 Simon Trezise, The Cambridge Companion to Debussy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 263. 72 Elaine Brody, Paris the Musical Kaleidoscope: 1870 1925 (New York: George Braziller, 1987) 282. 73 Brody, Paris the Musical Kaleidoscope 282. 74 Ibid 282.
46 How Ravel differs from Debussy is in the abu 75 In a March 1907 letter Debussy wrote to critic and friend Louis Laloy he spoke promisingly of Ravel: As for Ravel, I recognize the marks of your usual trouble is, a conjuring trick always has to have a build 76 From the tone of this passage it is clear that Debussy recognizes Ravel as a talented musician but did not believe that he was in anywa y equal or superior to himself or the caliber of work he produced. By likening Ravel to a conjuror Debussy is expressing his composers had many things in common and r espected one another as artists and as Frenchmen, what they believed to be ungrounded and unjust comparisons that similarly linked them to Impressionism created a rift in the friendship that lasted from the first time they met in the early 1890s. Since eac h individual sought to create his own musical style when they were similarly categorized they began to dislike one another. Pierre Lado and other critics would soon begin to speculate on whether Ravel got his style from Debussy or vice versa. 77 Both Debuss y and Ravel sought to establish a unique musical identity and did not want to be perceived as being dependent on the other. poems to music, the same year as Debussy. Ravel's inspiration shows that Ravel saw the 75 Ibid 282. 76 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 177 8. 77 Lesure and Nichols, Debussy Letters 117 it not to need repeating, but we learn new details o f his relations with Dukas and Ravel in the
47 value of Symbolist poetry all the same. In an August 1913 letter Debussy wrote to Mallarme strange that Ravel should have 78 While they selected the same poems the two sets have obvious differences that serve as distinctions of compositional style. The mere fact that both composers found their inspiration in Symbolis t poetry was e nough to lead to their linking. One thing that strongly linked these two composers categorized as Impressionists is their distinct piano style that ran into their other compositions and 1905 Ravel had already 79 While Brody believes that this is the first piece written in the impressionist s en reviewed as being impressions of something, but there are unclear boundaries for the reference of this Printemps 80 Whether or no Clair de Lune 78 Ibid 277. 79 Elaine Brody, Paris the Musical Kaleidoscope: 1870 1925 (New York: George Braziller, 1987), 284. 80 Si mon Trezise, The Cambridge Companion to Debussy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 102.
48 understood as melodic repetition in a different voice/instrument part as well as when the overtones of 81 which he founded his musical beliefs. For Debussy timeless natural phenomena were realized in his work as an idealized vision of a pure, untainted world in which living creatures either are absent or play an unimportant part. This was possibly because 82 Instead, Debussy sought La Mer 83 By looking at the titles of his compositions for piano, which include a book of ew inspiration from nature, like the Impressionists. In fact, his view of nature was similar to that of the Romantics, another genre that he desired no association with and actually aimed to avoid in his compositions. It is important to recognize that Debu ssy never rejected the Impressionists, just the concept of Impressionism for his compositions. Much of what links Debussy to Impressionism links him inadvertently. Despite what many critics have purported, there is no evidence that proves Debussy was direc tly influenced by the art of Impressionist painters. Rather, he was living in Paris in the nineteenth century and was exposed to the 81 The Oxford Dictionary of Music 2 nd ed. Rev. Oxford Music Online. http://www.ox fordmusiconline.com (accessed 03/12/2012). 82 Trezise, The Cambridge Companion to Debussy 149. 83 Ibid, 149.
49 various literary, artistic, and musical movements taking place around him. Where Debussy found grounding with Impressionism was with his desire to link nature into his en plen air air art, an art which measures up to the elements, to the w ind, the sky, the sea! We must not turn it into a 84 Conservatoire and established musical orthodoxy that he found limiting. But it is not clear that the various critics wh o used this label on his work actually knew he felt this way or could make the connection. With this said it becomes clear that the term of Impressionism was a misnomer that stuck. The Roots of Symbolism While Impressionism had already established roots a s a strong visual art movement, Symbolism was moving through various circles of Parisian poets. Charles Baudelaire (1821 1867) was the first of the French poets to translate the poetry and short stories of Edgar Allen Poe, stirring a frenzy of interest, with forerunners Paul Verlaine (1844 1896) and an unexpected spokesperson in St phane Mallarm (1842 1898). Symbolism saw its peak in the last two decades of the nineteenth century and branched off beyond a literary movement to i nclude the visual arts Deb ussy, like the Symbolist poets, came from humble beginnings and lived marginally (despite the 84 Fran ois Lesure and Richard Langham Smith, eds., Debussy on Music (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1977), 244 ntervie w wi th the Excelsior publication on 18 January 1911.
50 Symbolists sought to express ideas which had been neglected by French litera ture the 85 Like Impressionism, Symbolism lacked clearly defined criteria or boundaries. It was first identified in 1886 as a literary movement in the Symbolist Manifesto, w hich was written inspired philosophy, mystical and occult doctrines, psychology, linguistics, science, political theory and such aesthetic ncepts that were further represented in symbolism in the visual arts. 86 Impressionism gave no thought to spirituality as Symbolism did, although it did bother to utilize suggestion and its subtle power. Definition fell in importance to evocation and feeling In other words the power of suggestion was relished. spiritual insight from the irrational experiences of dreams and hypnosis. While Debussy embraces beliefs held by both Symbolis ts and Impressionists it is critical to understand that his greater physical association was in the company of Symbolists. On Sunday afternoons Mallarm would host a gathering of creative minds for riveting discussion pertaining to the arts. It was at thes e gatherings that Debussy was exposed to much of the conversations that would form his new attitude towards the arts and their relationships Debussy willingly worked creatively with symbolist poets, but did not 85 Henry C. Phil lips, Music and Letters 13.3 (Jul., 1932), pp. 298 311. http://www.jstor.org/ stable/726316 (accessed March 12, 2012), 305. 86 Julius Grove Art Online, Oxford Art Online http://www.oxfordartonline.com (accessed 03/12/2012).
51 desire to be similarly categorized as such. It is understood that this movement had the Gamelang whom we now have to deal was the product, spiri tually and aesthetically, of the literary 87 Debussy became close friends with both Verlaine and Mallarme, adapting their work into his musical projects from his early years as a Conservatoire student and beyond. It cannot be pr oven or disproven that Debussy was influenced by the work of Impressionist painters as their subject matter bears similarities and both share an interest in various aspects of nature. Impressionism and Symbolism as Musical Movements What then is Symbolist music as the critics and academics titled it? There are no poetic creation Debussy must have considered how he should go about doing so without tainting the original be auty of the piece and intentions of the poet. In the same manner Debussy expected a critic, who was attempting to convey their understanding introduce their opinions. This was not always the case, and Debussy knew it well, as of Ravel and Debussy. although they never to re at the foundation of a piece ( that is, the structure musi cally and the overall notation ) As a critic, Debussy displayed strong use of Symbolist rhetoric. So the way that Symbolism 87 Oscar Thompson, Debussy, Man and Arti st (New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1940) 97.
52 could be understood as influencing Debussy would have been through his musical ideology as well as serving as inspiration for composi tional subject matter. There is then no Symbolist music, as there is no Impressionist music. While both the artists who inadvertently founded Impressionism and the collective that came to represent Symbolism did not cooperatively decide upon their artistic aims or fundamental beliefs, they are now recognized as a cohesive unit because they failed to organize themselves and establish their identity, leaving the task to others. But is there a necessity for genre or category? did not need genre. Music could be of music but his music. And that might have been the most important aspect of the creation. It is not possible to translate the art istic elements of Impressionism or the literary elements of Symbolism musically. By linking Debussy to either movement Debussy believed that it would symbolize his reliance on this movement. Worse than this, a label that was designed to convey the realitie s of something written or simply viewed functioned differently from those that should be used to describe something Rather than finding one definitive term to identify his music, he rejected any title that was placed on his style. In doing this it can be viewed that Debussy felt all terms offered unfit for branding his creative thought. As someone who valued the arts, collectively (with music supreme among them), Debussy acknowledged that the manifestations of his art were too great to be limited by a meager category. He valued his compositions.
53 While it was true that Debussy painted with sound, he had no necessity for Impressionism. And while he found inspiration in the poetry of his comrades Mallarme and Verlaine, Debussy had no necessity for Symbolism. In truth, Debussy avoided identifying his music with genre categories as he thought it to be hindering to the creative process of any individual. Placing Debussy into a s pecific group was like locking him into an empty, tight space where there is no room for free thought and therefore, no room for true creativity. In his bold composition and ambitious thinking Debussy desired to re imagine the way music was made and chang e the understanding of what music could be. It is easy to understand how Debussy could be linked to both Symbolism and Impressionism. While his music contained symbols they contained visual instructions. La Cathedrale Engloutie provides instructions for the piece this could easily be seen as an instruction for pedaling. 88 This would be signaling the blending of all tones played. With that sai d, it should be noted that Impressionist painters did not blend colors as it was traditionally taught. According to Roberts rs imagery. In summation, both Impressionism and Symbolism as a description of musical genre was invented after garde, and proved a rough fit for already established cl assification. The terms were 88 Paul Roberts, Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy (Portland: Amadeus Press, 1996), 39.
54 considered to be suitable for use because Debussy associated with Symbolists and began to develop his musical style while these movements were rising to popularity. use of color, behavior of referencing nature, and his ideas about how academic thinking could stifle creativity flourishes, is a determining factor for the attribution of t inspiration. So while he benefited from both movements he did not desire to be definitively linked to either movement. He felt the need to be independent and showcase his own creative ability.
55 Conclusion The Issue of Isms Debussy's style cannot b e summed up in a few words but his artistry is undenia ble. He denied this artistry when his love of music paled in comparison to his greater love of Paris. When Paris was at war, Debussy was at war. While Paris was being occupied by German soldiers, Debussy was being bombarded by his own thoughts, thoughts th at led him from creating music and led him to question his worth as a man. Outside of fitting into Symbolism or Impressionism Debussy was led to strive for perfection not solely by his desire to show the extent of his genius, but largely to demonstrate the brilliance of Frenchmen. He believed Parisian artistic expression needed direction and a greater identity outside of Wagnerian influence and Conservatoire limitations. Of their limitations he said: The best thing one could wish for French music would be t o see the study of harmony abolished as it is practiced in the Conservatoire. It is the most ridiculous way of arranging notes. Furthermore, it has the severe disadvantage of standardizing composition to such a degree that every composer, except for a few, harmonizes in the formulae. He preferred the free play of sonorities whose curves, whether flowing in parallel or contrary motion, would result in an undreamed of flowering so that even the least of his countless manuscripts bears an indelible stamp of beauty. 89 music has evolved. He values his musical forefathers. But the fact that he be lieved Bach being taught at the Conservatoire and was fearful of where music was going (or the idea that it was not progressing as it should be). His nationalist spirit is alive as seen by his 89 Fran ois Lesure and Richard Langham Smith, eds., Debussy on Music (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1977), 84.
56 resolution that the abolition of harmony would be the best thing one could wish for French music and not music overall. He then likens himself to Bach as they both understand the necessity of letting sonorities freely play with one ano ther to create Debussy avoided classification throughout his career, denouncing the title of Impressionist or Symbolist. He did not want to be linked to any particular movement because it was his belief that this would represent his dependence on the movement or individuals involved, limiting his genius. Although he did not want to be included in any established categorization he also did not desire for one to be created around his style. Through studying Debussy' s life and art it becomes clear that there is no definitive categorization to capture his work. The necessity for genres and labels is a human behavior enabled by fear and guided by a series of constraints. But genre in no way denotes the worth of a piece of music or the value of the creativity of individuals involved. Categorical distinctions are not solely put in place to identify a piece of music or a group of composers, but serve as a means for making knowledge convenient and, in doing so, influencing h 90 Genres operate by codifying past repetitions and enabling future repetitions. In other words, genre utilizes h a nd recognizes commonalities in 90 Jim Grove Music Online Oxford Music Online http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed March 12, 2012).
57 unnecessary, whether in praise or for derision (typically used by critics). Even for composers that he enjoyed, like Bach, Debussy did not attempt to categorize them beyond their nationality. This approach allows us to understand how powerful genre is because it possesses the ability to hinder or encourage an artist or group of artists. Throughout this th esis many isms have been used to describe pieces created as part of a specific movement or models of thought that were prevalent during the nineteenth century Wagnerism(e), nationalism, exoticism, orientalism, impressionism, and symbolism. The common gr ound among these isms is that they function as classifications that we presently use to organize different channels of creative and social formulations that took place in the past. In this paper many of the isms listed above have functioned with the iden tity of genre. This function is not flawed if the notion of genre itself is considered. Dahlhaus brilliantly addresses genre's flawed existence: There are only tentative beginnings when it comes to a theory of musical genres. Characteristic of the difficu lties involved is the fact that it is impossible to decide in a reasoned and unambiguous manner whether a fugue is a genre, a form, or a technique. Anyone who embarks upon an attempt to design a system of genres which does not violate their historical natu re comes up against a logical difficulty at a very early stage, namely that at different times in history genres are determined by changing points of view, with the result that the order of main and subsidiary concepts becomes confused. It is unclear wheth er it is function, form, texture, or text that constitutes the decisive feature. 91 In the early history of music, as we have seen, a genre was determined primarily by the function it performed and by the texts on which it was based. This indicates that musi cal genres developed less as a result of compositional assumptions than as a result of external circumstances which were however assimilated as internal determining factors. 92 Genre is subjective and perpetuated through repetition. A particular genre is ac cepted if it suits the hegemony of the time in regards to label enforcement. For example, Symbolism could be viewed as a musical genre in late nineteenth century France 91 Carl Dahlhaus, Schoenberg and the New Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 19 87 ) 33. 92 Dahlhaus, Schoenberg and the New Music 35.
58 because Symbolism the literary movement was popular at the time. The public could easil y accept the association when imposed on an individual or their w ork because it was not entirely foreign to them. But this genre changes over time based on the evolving cultural and social tastes within different natures, which is why a recently establishe d genre could violate its historical nature. It could have been based on something entirely different in the past. What was important then (for example, the form) has been replaced by another defining principle (for example, the technique). Genre is not a sedentary creature. Although many longstanding genre classifications still remain what they meant in the past and what they currently mean could be two entirely different things. And while the public could have existed without a definitive understanding o f what constitutes a certain genre, the artists involved desired for their creative output to be understood as they intended. This is why Debussy detested any labels being imposed on his work, and would find displeasure in his current classification as an Impressionist composer. As a part of one genre your work is identifiable by certain traits, meaning that it rejects other traits. This limits creative possibilities. Musical concepts and established genres that were taught throughout Europe at this particu lar time were cemented through conservatoire education and perpetuated through bourgeoisie consumption, reviews by critics, and other artists at the time. They were not ready to part with their primary means of typifying artistic works. Within nationalism there was a desire for each nation to define itself against every other nation, and each artist desired to define himself in the context of his nation.
59 The music created along these lines exemplified this through the text and stylization of music in relati on to the represented nation. These limitations denote something like a genre. The same can be said for exoticism and orientalism, in which musical pieces under their classification utilize the same limitations. Impressionism and Symbolism are flawed as mu sical genres because they possess no defined criteria for proper classification outside of the period in time they were conceived. He did not make music under the guise of exoticism or orientalism, although he enjoyed utilizing uncommon scale systems to ex periment with sound. And if he was not an Impressionist or a Symbolist the complicated dilemma of categorizing his work still stands. Through all of this the most important ism in regards to this paper is not listed above: individualism. Categorization a llows for identification and understanding, but there is so much to be understood about an artist outside of their genre. While there is no need to question which categorization Debussy would have preferred, as he detested the tradition of locking creativi ty in the prison of classification, it is evident that the both Symbolism and Impressionism d o not entirely promote his linkage to either movement. Dahlhaus captures w hat Debussy aimed to do: The disintegration of musical genres in the twentieth century is the result of a development determined by the idea of an individual, self contained work, in the course of which the constituent features of genre text, function, s coring, and formal model gradually lost their importance. The text was felt to be of secondary importance or even regarded with indifference; music tied to functions degenerated into triviality; and the increasing complexity and individualization of scor ing and form led to a dissolution of the stereotypes on which traditional genres had been based. 93 93 Carl Dahlhaus, Schoenberg and the New Music (Cambri dge: Cambridge University Press, 1987 ) 38.
60 Debussy sought to establish himself as a uniquely original individual, outside of any movement or single components involved to blend harmoniously to produce a product that would be sonically pleasing and stand as a suitable representation of his aesthetic thinking. Almost a century after his death, it is evident that he has succeeded at accomplishing this. As a man a nd a composer Debussy recognized the value of classi fication, how it could elevate or diminish. The only identity that Debussy would have agreed with would have been Frenchman, one who makes French music. This is seen by his overtly patriotic nature especially when faced with a separation from his homeland or the concept of its possible defeat, and artist, a title that holds the weight of the mind and its impalpable potential. While Debussy may have rejecte d many labels attributed to him student, teacher, impressionist, Symbolist, Modernist, and Frenchman they s hape our understanding of Debussy the composer and Debussy the man. It seems fitting to close this thesis with an analysis of Debussy's own words regarding his pure feelings about music: When I tell you that I spent nearly a year unable to write had to re entions to amaze the so called
61 nd people who are happy just with beauty of sound are hard to find. 94 From Debussy's words it is clear that he idealized the art of music. He desired to make y 95 More than what he did composing music was who he wa s, and he detested them a validity (or value) of their lifestyle or class as imposed by societal standards. He valued music for what it was, without convention or pretense. A chord maintained its own functi on o utside of a typical function. Chords were placed in a specific order and valued for their sonorities. In the same manner his music maintained its identity outside of a genre, aside from his association with select individuals or personal wealth. The mu sic This was important to Debussy because he believed he was working on things which will be understood only by [his] grandchildren in the 20th century; only they will see and discover that underneath there was only a miserable skeleton (murmurs of agreement from the celestial parliament, on the left). 96 Again Debussy is referencing to the bourgeois spirit that enveloped Paris and blinded patrons to real art with things that were expensive or popular at the time. Based on this statement it is fitting for Debussy to be considered a forerunner in the then budding 94 Fran ois Lesure and Roger Nichols, eds., Debussy Letters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 95 Lesure and Nichols, Debussy Letters Raymond Bonheur. 96 Ibid
62 contemporary music trend, which led to modern music in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. While certain s ocietal standards are still accepted as far as dress is considered, wealth or social class does not necessarily determine the value of the composer (at least not as much as the quali ty of their creative output does). While he created the faade of a typical musician of esteem, dressing and a ttempting to live to fit the part, Debussy was upset with the idea that clothes make the musician and that somehow stature dictated the worth or v alidity of your work. Possibly this feeling stemmed from his meager upbringing or his financial struggles faced while trying to attract the world to his craft. easily ac cessible to the common man, nor did Debussy desire for it to be. As an artist Debussy drew symphonic sketches and aimed to stir emotion rather than form clear thoughts, causing passion to supersede logic. But so much of what is deemed logical is developed through repetition and accepted over time when perpetuated to the point be in reference to what is left of music after it has been defiled by pointless conventions an d classless consumption: the reality behind the vague appearances. There a re certain underlying truths that are beyond the necessity of artistic movement, it is underst ood that Debussy was a Frenchman and an artist. is important to understand his view of art:
63 Art is the most beautiful deception of all! And although people try to inc orporate the everyday events of life in it, we must hope that it will remain a deception lest we become a utilitarian thing, sad as a factory. Ordinary people, as well as the elite, come to music to seek oblivion: is that not also a form of deception?... L et us not disillusion more consoling ways: such music can contain an everlasting expression of beauty. 97 Art is perceived differently from individual to individual and holds varying importance in like manner. Since art is a deception it cannot (or should not be able to) fit into a rigid formulaic. Debussy did not use t ypical harmonic pr ogression solely because he sought to rebel. He did not utilize different modes and scales just because he wanted to be different. He did all of this to dance around the hegemony of the Conservatoire because he so esteemed the art form he worked in. His ex perimentation was propelled by child like imagination, playfulness even, which walked hand in hand with his disregard for limiting musical composition to forms that had already seen their heyday. Debussy wanted to make music to keep this spirit of child li ke imagination and boundless thi nking alive. This is his legacy. 97 Lesure and Smith, Debussy on Music 85.
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