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Claude Debussy: La Mer

Here’s a hint: not exactly accurate, but it gives an impression...

The sea, with its ever-changing texture and colors, was perhaps a perfect source inspiration for Claude Debussy.

For many critics, La Mer solidified the connection between Debussy and the Impressionist movement in visual art.

Such connections are never perfect.

Debussy himself viewed this linkage at first with ambivalence, and later with outright distaste.

Ironically, although his compositional theories had been deeply impacted by the visual arts in his earlier years, La Mer actually represents a turning point in his aesthetic theories.

He increasingly came to view the other arts with more restraint.

They were sources of inspiration, perhaps, but not of artistic modeling.

Perhaps the best way to put this artistic turn is the way it began to be expressed by some journalists around the time: as “Debussyism.”

Music Heard On This Episode

Claude Debussy (1862-1918): La Mer
Pierre Boulez/Cleveland Orchestra — Debussy: La Mer / Nocturnes / Jeux / Rhapsodie pour clarinette et orchestre (Deutsche Grammaphon, 1995)
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album cover
Claude Debussy (1862-1918): La Mer
Pierre Boulez/Cleveland Orchestra — Debussy: La Mer / Nocturnes / Jeux / Rhapsodie pour clarinette et orchestre (Deutsche Grammaphon, 1995)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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