In the western suburbs of Paris 150 years ago today, a boy was born to an unassuming couple, proprietors of a china shop who had no great taste for music. But that little boy felt otherwise, and grew up to write music of bold color, timbre and harmonic daring.
Claude Debussy ignored the old rules about how to write music and in the process created a brave new world of sonic possibilities.
Some people are intimidated by the vastness of classical music. And while the prospect of more than 1,000 years of hits to consider may be daunting, just think instead of how many musical journeys of discovery can be made.
This time, he’d show them. The Paris Conservatoire accepted Ravel as a piano student at age 16, and even though he won a piano competition, more than anything he wanted to compose. But the Conservatory was a hard place. He never won the fugue prize, never won the composition prize, never won anything for writing music and they sent him packing. Twice. He studied with the great Gabriel Fauré, in school and out, but he just couldn’t make any headway with the ruling musical authorities.
Music for Un-Romantics: "Clair de Lune" from Claude Debussy's Suite bergamasque
Not being romantic is the mark of certain men, of a certain age. I never buy flowers on Valentine's Day; I do so whenever I see really nice flowers for sale. This is why Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune," the third movement of his Suite bergamasque, is the perfect piece of music for me and for all fellow un-romantics. Read More