Music Composers

Claude Debussy-Part 6

His Sound Knowledge

His early training was conventional and academic, and seemingly in no way conducive to the independent ideas he has formulated for himself. Born at St. Germain-en_Laye, 1862, he began his studies at that most conservative institution, the Paris Conservatoire. He obtained medals for solfege and piano playing, and finally, 1884, the Grand Prix de Rome with his cantata L'enfant Prodigue. He said that his music "court le risque de deplaire a ceux qui aiment une musicque, jusqu'a lui rester jalousement fideles malgre ses rides et ses fardes."

In spite of his revolutionary principles, his critical writings bear testimony of his knowledge and respect for the works of his predecessors.

Apropos of Bach's Violin Concerto in G he notes the "musical arabesque" contained in it. "From these same arabesques the 'ornament' is derived which he names the basis of all art modes. The word 'ornament' he adds in parentheses has no connection with the meaning attached to it by the musical grammars. The premitifs - Palestrina, Vittoria, Orlando de Lassus, etc. - he continues, were mindful of this divine 'arabesque.' They found the origin of it in the Gregorian chant, and they supported its slender convolutions by means of strong resisting counterpoint."

The Etude Magazine February 1921





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