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Pour invoquer Pan, dieu du vent d'été
Pour un tombeau sans nom
Pour que la nuit soit propice
Pour la danseuse aux crotales
Pour l'Egyptienne
Pour remercier la pluie au matin

PREFACE

The Six Épigraphes antiques appeared in February 1915 in the midst of the First World War. Nothing is known about the occasion that gave rise to them. When Debussy sent the manuscript to his publisher Durand shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, he merely remarked: “At one point I intended to turn them into an orchestral suite.” Indeed, the pieces are a reworking of ... more

CRITICAL COMMENTARY

About the Composer

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Claude Debussy

Most important French composer around 1900, whose music, primarily characterized by its sound, exhibits profound innovations. His oeuvre bears a close relationship to Symbolism.

1862Born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on August 22.
1872–84Studies at the Conservatoire de Paris. During this time, he travels with the family of Nadezhda von Meck to Switzerland, Italy, Vienna, and Russia, where he becomes acquainted with Russian and Gypsy music.
1884Wins the Prix de Rome with his cantata “L’Enfant prodigue.” Thereafter resides in Rome until 1887.
1887–89Songs, “Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire.”
1888/89Visit to the Bayreuth Festival; criticism of Wagner.
1889Exposition universelle (World Exposition) in Paris, where he learns about East Asian music, which influences his style.
1890Connection to Mallarmé and his circle.
1891/1903Series of songs, “Fêtes galantes,” after Verlaine.
1891–94Orchestral work “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune” (“Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”) with arabesque-like melodies.
1897–99Nocturnes for orchestra and women’s voices.
1901Beginning of his activity as a music critic.
1902Performance of the opera “Pelléas et Mélisande” after the Symbolist drama by Maeterlinck, which despite criticism spells his breakthrough.
1903–05Orchestral work “La Mer” uses symphonic principles and “Impressionist” tonal language.
1905–07Books one and two of “Images” for piano.
1906–08“Children’s Corner,” children’s pieces for piano.
1909–10/11–1913 Books one and two of the “Préludes” for piano; the programmatic titles of these character pieces, some of which are quite esoteric, are listed at the end of each one.
1913Songs “Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé.”
1915–17Chamber music sonatas, drawing from the French tradition of the eighteenth century.
1918Death in Paris on March 25.

© 2003, 2010 Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart

About the Authors

Ernst-Günter Heinemann (Editor)

Dr. Ernst-Günter Heinemann, born in 1945 in Bad Marienberg (Westerwald), completed his schooling in Gießen and read musicology, philosophy and German in Marburg and Frankfurt/Main and also for some time Protestant church music. He did his doctorate on “Franz Liszts geistliche Musik. Zum Konflikt von Kunst und Engagement”.

From 1978–2010 Heinemann worked as an editor at G. Henle Publishers (in 1978 in Duisburg, from 1979 onwards in Munich). He edited a great many Urtext editions for the publishing house, including “Das Wohltemperierte Klavier”, Volume 1 by Bach and all of Debussy’s piano works. In addition, he wrote essays on Debussy, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn and questions concerning general editing, as well as giving seminars on editorial practice for musicology students in Munich.

Andreas Groethuysen (Fingering)

Prof. Andreas Groethuysen, born in 1956 in Munich, studied music with Ludwig Hoffmann in Munich and, on a scholarship from the “Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes”, with Peter Feuchtwanger in London.

After several years as a soloist, Groethuysen formed a piano duo with Yaara Tal, which has now become the focus of his artistic work. The duo regularly performs in many European countries, in Israel, China, North and South America. In exclusive cooperation with SONY CLASSICAL the internationally acclaimed piano duo has released a great many CDs – 28 to date – almost all of which have been awarded prizes.

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