Daily Archives: March 25, 2010

Claude Debussy

On this date in 1918 Claude Debussy died.

From the first entry of Frye’s 1942 diary, July 12th;

The French have consistently ignored the great forms, the sonata and the fugue, and have stuck to dainty descriptive pieces not to be taken too seriously.  It seems to be an outlet for their crotch-bound paralytically caesured poetry. The pictorial tendency, often with a dance basis, is so persistent it should be worked out in some detail… The French are not a rhythmically moving race — a Celtic-Latin alloy… The highlights of a musical history would probably be CouperinRameau fanciful titles, with some of Landowska‘s notes (lunatic but interesting). The attack on opera centring on the Gluck and the Tannhauser fights the impossibility of producing music while pretending to be a Roman (Revolution: Cherubini & Napolean were both Italians): the 19th c. partition into the Provencal, and Belgian and a Pole (Frank is purely Teutonic and Chopin‘s music is entirely pictorial.  His non-committal titles are a pose: one doesn’t expect any other music to follow his Preludes. There’s a closer link between Chopin and Debussy than one would at first think): the opera bouffe parodies of the Faust type: revival of the Rameau tradition with Debussy & Ravel: Saint-Saen‘s last-war journal.  Do the French hate music? Why is there no lust of the flesh & pride of the eyes in it? no Renoir or Boucher or Hugo even? I’m getting cultural dysentery again.  Hangnail is an incorrect form of angnail, a clear sense of false etymology. (CW, 8, 4-5)

There are actual recordings by Debussy, but I wasn’t able to find one I could post.  However, above is a piano roll made by Debussy of “Golliwog’s Cakewalk“.

Frye Alert

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Two student bloggers produced brief posts yesterday on The Educated Imagination‘s “Giants in Time“.  Either it’s a remarkable coincidence, or they’re both working through the same academic timetable.  Either way, it’s nice to see that young students especially continue to engage this work.

You can look at their posts here and here.