This single edition – it is number 10 in the first volume of the Préludes (HN 383) of 1910 – shows the extent of Debussy’s imagination as he conjures up the old city of Ys that has sunk into the sea. Debussy enjoyed playing this piece himself and also left behind a recording on piano roll. This gives important insights into his tempi. The term prélude, reminiscent of Chopin, makes clear the return to traditional forms, which the now established composer was slowly embracing once again. The programmatic title, as with all of the Préludes, is only given at the end of the piece, thus underlining its passing significance.
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About the composer
Most important French composer around 1900, whose music, primarily characterized by its sound, exhibits profound innovations. His oeuvre bears a close relationship to Symbolism.
|1862||Born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on August 22.|
|1872–84||Studies 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.|
|1884||Wins the Prix de Rome with his cantata “L’Enfant prodigue.” Thereafter resides in Rome until 1887.|
|1887–89||Songs, “Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire.”|
|1888/89||Visit to the Bayreuth Festival; criticism of Wagner.|
|1889||Exposition universelle (World Exposition) in Paris, where he learns about East Asian music, which influences his style.|
|1890||Connection to Mallarmé and his circle.|
|1891/1903||Series of songs, “Fêtes galantes,” after Verlaine.|
|1891–94||Orchestral work “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune” (“Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”) with arabesque-like melodies.|
|1897–99||Nocturnes for orchestra and women’s voices.|
|1901||Beginning of his activity as a music critic.|
|1902||Performance of the opera “Pelléas et Mélisande” after the Symbolist drama by Maeterlinck, which despite criticism spells his breakthrough.|
|1903–05||Orchestral work “La Mer” uses symphonic principles and “Impressionist” tonal language.|
|1905–07||Books 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.|
|1913||Songs “Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé.”|
|1915–17||Chamber music sonatas, drawing from the French tradition of the eighteenth century.|
|1918||Death in Paris on March 25.|
About the authors
... is nu verkrijgbaar als losse uitgave in de Urtext-editie van het gerenommeerde Henle Verlag. Zoals we gewend zijn van deze uitgever is het notenbeeld zeer rustig en overzichtelijk: het is een genot om muziek uit deze uitgave te spelen of om de partituur mee te lezen bij het beluisteren van opnamen.
This is a worthwhile publication, ... it is a magnificent composition in its own right. ... In this Henle edition, there is a specific reference that Debussy doubles the speed between bars 7 and 12, and between 22 and 83, being completely contrary to what is printed. Since these sections take up most of the 89 bar piece the eternal question is – why did he write it this way if he intended to interpret it otherwise? ... Even though the piano world is very much aware of the "discrepancy", this is the first time that I have seen it referred to in an edition of the piece. Henle are to be applauded for doing this, ... I recommend that all students of the piano obtain a copy of this separate publication. ...