Quotes about Claude Debussy
11 Sourced Quotes
The world of Debussy is a seductive oasis, and it is hard to leave it after spending many days immersed in its atmosphere. Playing Debussy-or any other composer with a strong and idiosyncratic personality-affects not only one's cast of mind but the physical disposition as well, the way the muscles work and the fingers come into contact with the ivories.
It may be granted that Debussy's melodic line is very fluid and elastic, like Wagner's "continuous melody," not definitely sectionalized by balanced phrases or set cadences. But it surely has its own right to existence—music being pre-eminently the art of freedom—and let us remember that Nature herself has melting outlines, shadowy vistas and subtle rhythms. Debussy, in fact, is the poet of the "indefinite" and the "suggestive" and his music has had great influence in freeing expression from scholastic bond.
On the first performance of Stravinsky's Symphony of Wind Instruments dedicated to Debussy, in London:I had no idea Stravinsky disliked Debussy so much as this.
People call my music complex because I will have instruments playing at their own paces, as if the other instruments weren't even there. It doesn't march along in the same way that most older music does. But to me, I honestly don't think that a work like Debussy's La Mer is any less complex than my work. It's full of all sorts of sounds and textures going on at once, yet we still look at is as beautiful, structured and fluid. That's all I'm trying to do; I'm not out to compose for complexity's sake.
It is divided into three movements, which closely approximate a symphony in form. The first, 'From Dawn to Noon on the Sea', begins with a thin, hauntingly grayed quality and grows animated in such a spiritual manner that it is hard to see how Debussy's friend Erik Satie could have forsaken his customary elegance to remark that he particularly enjoyed the part at a quarter past eleven.
Debussy was behind me when we played L'après-midi d'un faune because he did not want anything in his score to be changed on account of the dancing. And when we came to a forte, he said 'Monteux, that is a forte, play forte'. He did not want anything shimmering. And he wanted everything exactly in time.
'Europe' in anything other than the geographical sense is a wholly artificial construct. It makes no sense at all to lump together Beethoven and Debussy, Voltaire and Burke, Vermeer and Picasso, Notre Dame and St Paul's, boiled beef and bouillabaisse, and portray them as elements of a 'European' musical, philosophical, artistic, architectural or gastronomic reality. If Europe charms us, as it has so often charmed me, it is precisely because of its contrasts and contradictions, not its coherence and continuity.