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198 × 130 × 15 mm
216 pages
31 illustrations
01 Jul 2010
Critical Lives

Claude Debussy David J. Code

‘Art is the most beautiful deception’, said French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918). Debussy was infused with the literature of his time and incorporated his favourite poems into musical compositions from an early age. He created music that was revolutionary, with a distinctly modern sound known for its intersection of art and life. In Claude Debussy, David J. Code explores the composer’s life and work as well as important moments in the development of Debussy’s literary interests and how they shaped his music.

Claude Debussy presents an in-depth look into the effect of Debussy’s love for poetry on his musical compositions. This book spans his earlier years, filled with student cantatas inspired by Paul Verlaine and Charles Baudelaire, to his later life, which was dominated by retrospective, nationalistic pieces composed in the run-up to World War i and inspired by French Renaissance poets. In between, Code explores Debussy’s orchestral pieces and operas motivated by the likes of Stèphane Mallarmè and Maurice Maeterlinck. Claude Debussy also looks at how Debussy’s reading habits influenced his abstract, ‘pure’ pieces written for the piano, orchestra and chamber ensemble.

This book will give readers a fresh way of listening to Debussy’s music by offering the most up-to-date critical analysis of the composer’s literary interests and musical compositions, while also relating the story of his turbulent life. It will appeal to any reader with a love of Debussy, as well as modern music, literature and the arts.

David J. Code is Lecturer in Music at the University of Glasgow. He has written numerous articles, several of which have appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, and Scottish Music Review.


1 A Music that Clothes the Poetry
2 A Dream from Which One Draws Back the Veils
3 The Art of a Curious Savage
4 Something New, Which Surprises Even Ourselves

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