Hello again everyone! Recently I have rediscovered my love of Debussy, the 19th/20th Century French Composer. His work has always inspired me, however I thought I should write a bit about it!
To begin I present to you La Mer by Debussy:
La Mer is, arguably, Debussy’s version of a symphony, despite him famously (and openly) antagonising the genre. I borrowed a collection of essays on Debussy and his works from the Edinburgh Central Music Library, and one essay was on La Mer and what Debussy thought of the symphony. It’s regarded with different views, as Debussy has cleverly positioned La Mer between being a symphony and a message-symphony (a symphony whereby there is a greater picture or idea that the composer puts across), and hence why it is very hard to pin-point where exactly La Mer comes. The description to the video above says this about the piece:
“La Mer” L.109, (The Sea), is an orchestral composition by Claude Debussy. It was started in 1903 in France and completed in 1905 on the English Channel coast in Eastbourne. The premiere was given by the Lamoureux Orchestra under the direction of Camille Chevillard on 15 October 1905 in Paris. “La Mer” is a composition of huge suggestion and subtlety in its rich depiction of the ocean, which combines unusual orchestration with daring impressionistic harmonies. The work has proven very influential, and its use of sensuous tonal colours and its orchestration methods have influenced many later film scores. While the structure of the work places it outside of both absolute music and programme music as those terms were understood in the early 20th century, it obviously uses descriptive devices to suggest wind, waves and the ambience of the sea. But structuring a piece around a nature subject without any literary or human element to it – neither people, nor mythology, nor ships are suggested in the piece – also was highly unusual at the time.
Debussy called his work “three symphonic sketches,” avoiding the loaded term symphony; yet the work is sometimes called a symphony; it consists of two powerful outer movements framing a lighter, faster piece which acts as a type of scherzo.
“La Mer” is divided inot three movements:
1. “De l’aube à midi sur la mer” (from dawn to midday on the sea);
2. “Jeux de vagues” (Play of the Waves);
3. “Dialogue du vent et de la mer” (Dialogue of the wind and the sea).
I think that the piece is wonderful. I have listened to it many a time, and love it more and more each time I do. The sea is a very calming picture I think, but something so vast and powerful can also be quite intimidating. Such a thing that can manipulate emotion so incredibly will always be a great idea to put across in a piece – I love sailing and the water, yet even Debussy puts in a storm at the end of La Mer showing the pure, raw power of nature. Indeed he believed that music should be taken from nature, and more specifically the invisible components of nature.
Another piece by Debussy which I adore is Reflets dans l’eau, which is for solo piano:
This piece is once again about the water, and images on the water. The piano is also perfectly suited for a piece about water, because of its natural articulation as well as potential for big, sweeping arpeggios that Debussy, and later Ravel, loved to use.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy these two pieces, and please share your opinions on here!