Five things you didn’t know about Debussy
By Elliott Antokoletz
It was Debussy who blazed the way to modern music in the United States in the early twentieth century, as evidenced by the many commentaries of American newspaper critics.
Much of Debussy’s music is pervaded by the imprint of late-nineteenth-century Russian music, including that of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Borodin, and others.
The vault scene of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, his first and only completed opera, and the entire fabric of The Fall of the House of Usher, his last and unfinished opera, are directly influenced by the American poet Edgar Allan Poe.
Although Debussy was a central figure associated with Impressionist music, he himself vehemently rejected the term as applied to his own compositions.
Debussy was plagued by a lack of money, a recurrent theme throughout his correspondence that raises questions regarding the reception and recompense for his compositions.

Elliott Antokoletz and Marianne Wheeldon are the editors of Rethinking Debussy. Elliott Antokoletz, Professor of Musicology at the University of Texas at Austin, has held two Endowed Professorships. Marianne Wheeldon is Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of Texas at Austin. Learn more on the OUPblog. 

Image credit: Claude Debussy au piano l’été 1893 dans la maison de Luzancy (chez son ami Ernest Chausson). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Five things you didn’t know about Debussy

By Elliott Antokoletz

  1. It was Debussy who blazed the way to modern music in the United States in the early twentieth century, as evidenced by the many commentaries of American newspaper critics.
  2. Much of Debussy’s music is pervaded by the imprint of late-nineteenth-century Russian music, including that of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Borodin, and others.
  3. The vault scene of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, his first and only completed opera, and the entire fabric of The Fall of the House of Usher, his last and unfinished opera, are directly influenced by the American poet Edgar Allan Poe.
  4. Although Debussy was a central figure associated with Impressionist music, he himself vehemently rejected the term as applied to his own compositions.
  5. Debussy was plagued by a lack of money, a recurrent theme throughout his correspondence that raises questions regarding the reception and recompense for his compositions.
Elliott Antokoletz and Marianne Wheeldon are the editors of Rethinking Debussy. Elliott Antokoletz, Professor of Musicology at the University of Texas at Austin, has held two Endowed Professorships. Marianne Wheeldon is Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of Texas at Austin. Learn more on the OUPblog

Image credit: Claude Debussy au piano l’été 1893 dans la maison de Luzancy (chez son ami Ernest Chausson). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.