Claude Debussy (1862–1918)

Debussy's music represents a link between romanticism and modernity.

The French composer studied piano and composition at the Paris Conservatoire, while also pursuing other musical tasks as a vocal accompanist, composer and arranger, He was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1883. Whereas Debussy's early works still borrow from French forms of the 19th century, he was later strongly influenced by lyrical symbolism and its champions such as the poet Mallarmé and thepainters of Impressionism.

Debussy's opera “Pelleas et Melisande” signalized his breakthrough as a composer in 1894. Next to further stage works, he the wrote orchestral works (including La Mer and the Trois Nocturnes), piano music and many song cycles in which a variety of musical styles and their typical sounds were expressed. In Debussy's music, the motivic-thematic work recedes to the background in favor of an intensely elaborated tone color. Alongside of classical major-minor harmonies, he uses whole-tone scales, pentatonic scales and church modes.