Between the years 1880–1882 Debussy occasionally accompanied Nadescha von Meck, Tchaikovsky’s patroness, on journeys, also working as her house pianist. At the beginning of 1881 she thanked Debussy for sending her his “charming symphony”, which, however, only comprised one allegro movement. In 1912 Debussy mentioned a proposed symphony, yet he never completed it. As a critic of traditional forms and as a musical innovator who was not particularly interested in producing symphonies, this is hardly any wonder. For a long time the autograph of the Allegro lay untouched in Russian archives so that the work was only published for the first time posthumously in 1933, in Russia.
- Symphony b minor
Debussy was eighteen years old when he composed his sole symphony, which has survived only in a single movement reduced for piano four-hands. Apparently, however, it was intended to have three further movements entitled Andante. Air de Ballet. Final. In the first weeks of 1881 Debussy, then a young student at the Paris Conservatoire, sent his manuscript to Tchaikovsky’s … more
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
Debussys Symphonie wird ... für Klavierduos von Interesse sein, die neugierig sind auf neue, wenig gespielte Literatur; ihnen steht nun ein neues, quasi originales Debussy-Werk zur Verfügung. Vor allem aber hat diese Veröffentlichung musikhistorischen Wert, da sie neues Licht auf Debussys frühes Schaffen ... wirft.
Die Präsentation durch den Henle-Verlag mit einem Vorwort von François Lesure, akribischem Editionsbericht und guten Fingersätzen von Andreas Groethuysen ist vollauf gelungen.
Da sich die spieltechnischen Schwierigkeiten in Grenzen halten, eignet sich dieser Symphoniesatz auch für den musikpädagogischen Unterricht; zumal hier an einigen Stellen auch wirklich jugendlich gepfeffert werden darf.