Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

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0120121008

Exploring why it was to be a long journey before Debussy grew into a mature composer.

Debussy showed his talent for music from an early age, he was just ten years old when he entered the Paris Conservatoire, but it was to be a long journey before this precocious pianist grew into a mature composer. Presented by Donald Macleod.

01Background20080414

Donald Macleod explores the immense social, economic and political change in France that shaped Debussy's music, focusing on the Paris Commune, the birth of the Second Empire and World War I.

Feux d'artifice (Preludes, Book II)

Krystian Zimerman (piano)

Green and Spleen (Ariettes oubliees)

Dawn Upshaw (soprano)

James Levine (piano)

l'enfant prodigue (excerpt)

Jessye Norman (soprano)

Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra

Gary Bertini (conductor)

La Damoiselle elue

Maria Ewing (soprano)

Brigitte Balleys (mezzo-soprano)

London Symphony Orchestra

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Estampes

Alexis Weissenberg (piano)

01Debussy And His Premier Trio20141013

He had a profound impact upon music and musicians in his day, and created new genres for the piano and orchestra, this week Donald Macleod explores Claude Debussy through his chamber music.

Debussy composed many lush and impressionistic scores, including La Mer and Iberia. We remember him today largely for his orchestral or solo piano music where he developed many new genres. This week, Donald Macleod will be exploring a less celebrated, but important, area of Debussy's output, his chamber works. Chamber music spans Debussy's entire musical career, including a Piano Trio composed in 1880, a String Quartet, examination pieces for clarinet and piano, and a number of sonatas for various instruments. Towards the end of his life, chamber music remained uppermost in his mind and Debussy planned to compose a further six sonatas, including works for wind instruments, and a second string quartet. With his death in 1918, he was never able to fully complete his plans.

As a student at the Paris Conservatoire, Debussy composed many works, including Danse bohémienne for solo piano, and his song, Madrid, a setting of Alfred de Musset evoking the "white city of serenades. Debussy studied piano at the Conservatoire but, although his exceptional talent was recognised, reactions to his playing weren't always positive; one person commented that "this budding Mozart is a regular devil".

Whilst a student, Debussy also worked as a pianist to earn money. He played the piano for Madame von Meck and accompanied her and her family on a tour across Europe. Debussy gave her children music lessons and also hoped to impress his employer by composing his Symphony for piano duet, which he never orchestrated. It was during this period that Debussy also composed his first significant chamber work, the Premier Trio in G major.

Donald Macleod focuses on Debussy's entering the Paris Conservatoire.

01Mme Vasnier20160222

Debussy's relationship with Madame Vasnier, the muse who inspired many of his early songs.

Debussy's muse Mme Vasnier inspired the young composer, barely into his twenties, to produce twenty-seven of the forty-odd songs he wrote between 1880 and 1884.

Over the course of the week Donald Macleod explores the musical fruits of Debussy's friendships with the society hostess Madame Vasnier, writer Pierre Loüys, poets Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck and the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Born in 1862, Debussy's childhood was overshadowed by periods of uncertainty and poverty. His father Manuel was in and out of employment and his mother was obliged to work as a seamstress to make ends meet. During the Commune, Debussy's father enlisted in the National Guard but family life hit a further stumbling block after the movement was crushed in 1871 as Manuel Debussy was put on trial and imprisoned. On identifying a natural talent and a potential income, young Debussy was steered towards a career as a concert pianist. He began his studies at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10, the twelve or so years he spent there being the only formal education he received. By the time he graduated he had made many useful contacts, some of whom we'll encounter across this week, as well as coming to the conclusion that he should focus on composition rather than performance.

Moonlight, evening and the trials and tribulations of love were subjects that preoccupied Debussy as a young man. Setting texts by the Parnassian poets, he wrote prolifically, with Madame Vasnier's high, soaring soprano voice very much in mind. With Donald Macleod.

Debussy, orch. André Caplet

Clair de lune

Orchestra National de Lyon

Jün Markl, conductor

Fantoches

Donna Brown, soprano

Stéphane Lemelin, piano

Trio in G, 1st movement - Andantino con moto allegro

The Florestan Trio

La Damoiselle élue

Ileana Cotrubas, soprano

Glenda Maurice, mezzo

Südfunkchor und Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart

Gary Bertini, conductor

Pour le piano

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano

Regret

01You have to drown the sense of key20180319

Donald Macleod explores Debussy's life and Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod looks at the beginnings of Debussy's career as a composer and the early love interests of his life

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

In Monday's programme, Donald Macleod explores Debussy's life and loves from the end of his student days up to his early thirties and his first masterpiece: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. His chief romantic interest during this period was Gaby Dupont, with whom the composer lived for several years in a dank attic with a borrowed piano, a bed, three chairs and a rickety table. They mingled with the who's who of the Parisian artistic and intellectual circles of the late 19th century, but with very little money coming in, their meals often consisted of bread and chocolate...

Debussy: Printemps (Suite Symphonique mvt 2)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus; Vasily Petrenko, conductor

La Damoiselle Elue
Maria Ewing, soprano; Brigitte Balleys, mezzo-soprano; London Symphony Orchestra; Claudio Abbado, conductor

Fêtes galantes
Véronique Gens, soprano; Roger Vignoles, piano

String Quartet (mvt 3)
Takacs Quartet

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Orchestre National de France, Daniele Gatti, conductor.

01You Have To Drown The Sense Of Key20180319

Donald Macleod looks at the beginnings of Debussy's career as a composer and the early love interests of his life

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

In Monday's programme, Donald Macleod explores Debussy's life and loves from the end of his student days up to his early thirties and his first masterpiece: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. His chief romantic interest during this period was Gaby Dupont, with whom the composer lived for several years in a dank attic with a borrowed piano, a bed, three chairs and a rickety table. They mingled with the who's who of the Parisian artistic and intellectual circles of the late 19th century, but with very little money coming in, their meals often consisted of bread and chocolate...

Debussy: Printemps (Suite Symphonique mvt 2)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus; Vasily Petrenko, conductor

La Damoiselle Elue
Maria Ewing, soprano; Brigitte Balleys, mezzo-soprano; London Symphony Orchestra; Claudio Abbado, conductor

Fêtes galantes
Véronique Gens, soprano; Roger Vignoles, piano

String Quartet (mvt 3)
Takacs Quartet

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Orchestre National de France, Daniele Gatti, conductor.

Donald Macleod explores Debussy's life and Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

0220121009

Donald Macleod on how Debussy led a revolution in the opera house and the concert hall.

As Debussy struggled to bring his true voice to the piano, he was already leading a revolution in the opera house and the concert hall. Meanwhile, his unruly love life threatened to alienate all but his closest friends. Presented by Donald Macleod.

02Debussy's First String Quartet20141014

He had a profound impact upon music and musicians in his day, and created new genres for the piano and orchestra, this week Donald Macleod explores Claude Debussy through his chamber music.

The composer, Chausson and Debussy became good friends. The composers discovered they had shared interests, not only in music, and Chausson became an older brother figure to Debussy. In the summer of 1893, Chausson rented a house at Luzancy, where Debussy joined him and, together, they spent weeks studying the score of Mussorgsky's opera, Boris Godunov. The experience was a great influence on Debussy's own opera, Pelleas and Melisande.

Chausson, though, disapproved of Debussy's scandalous lifestyle and their friendship came to an end. Debussy went on to befriend another composer and performer, Eugène Ysaÿe, who brought his own ensemble to Paris to give the premiere of Debussy's String Quartet in G major. It was during this period of the early 1880s that Debussy also composed his famous Afternoon of a Faun.

Exploring how close friends disappeared once Debussy became involved in a love scandal.

02Fin De Siecle20180320

Donald Macleod looks at the kind of man Debussy was as he faced the 20th century.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod explores a period of Debussy's life spent languishing in fin de siècle Paris clutching several masterpieces but no money

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

In the second programme this week Donald Macleod looks at the kind of man Debussy was in his thirties, as he faced the 20th century. During the years of writing his opera Pelléas et Mélisande he was earning very little, while being supported and looked after by his partner Gaby Dupont. But that didn't stop him from abruptly proposing to another woman, Therese Roger, while still living with Gaby. Abandoned by several of his friends at this point, one recalled that he was typically 'lost in thought in the company of his genius', while Gaby pawned their belongings so they had enough money to live on.

Et la lune descend sur la temple qui fut (Images)
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano

Concert Suite, Pelléas et Mélisande (Act III-IV-V)
Berliner Philharmoniker; Claudio Abbado, conductor

Chansons de Bilitis
Nathalie Stutzmann, alto; Catherine Collard, piano

Nocturnes
Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, conductor.

02Fin De Siecle20180320

Donald Macleod explores a period of Debussy's life spent languishing in fin de siècle Paris clutching several masterpieces but no money

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

In the second programme this week Donald Macleod looks at the kind of man Debussy was in his thirties, as he faced the 20th century. During the years of writing his opera Pelléas et Mélisande he was earning very little, while being supported and looked after by his partner Gaby Dupont. But that didn't stop him from abruptly proposing to another woman, Therese Roger, while still living with Gaby. Abandoned by several of his friends at this point, one recalled that he was typically 'lost in thought in the company of his genius', while Gaby pawned their belongings so they had enough money to live on.

Et la lune descend sur la temple qui fut (Images)
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano

Concert Suite, Pelléas et Mélisande (Act III-IV-V)
Berliner Philharmoniker; Claudio Abbado, conductor

Chansons de Bilitis
Nathalie Stutzmann, alto; Catherine Collard, piano

Nocturnes
Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, conductor.

Donald Macleod looks at the kind of man Debussy was as he faced the 20th century.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

02Impressionism20080415

Donald Macleod explores the various artistic currents in Paris that influenced Debussy's music.

La catedrale engloutie

Krystian Zimerman (piano)

En blanc et noir

Katia and Marielle Labeque (pianos)

Nocturnes

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Collegium Musicum Amstelodamense

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Pantomime

Dawn Upshaw (soprano)

James Levine (piano)

02Mallarme's Salon20160223

Donald Macleod explores the influence of poet Stephane Mallarme on Debussy.

Debussy's encounters with the poet Stéphane Mallarmé, whose poem "l'après-midi d'un faune" inspired Debussy's much loved orchestral version.

Over the course of the week Donald Macleod explores the musical fruits of Debussy's relationships with the society hostess Madame Vasnier, writer Pierre Loüys, poets Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck and the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Born in 1862, Debussy's childhood was overshadowed by periods of uncertainty and poverty. His father Manuel was in and out of employment and his mother was obliged to work as a seamstress to make ends meet. During the Commune, Debussy's father enlisted in the National Guard whereupon family life hit a further stumbling block after the movement was crushed in 1871, as Manuel Debussy was put on trial and imprisoned. On identifying a natural musical talent and a potential income, young Debussy was steered towards a career as a concert pianist. He began his studies at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10 and the twelve or so years he spent there were the only formal education he received. By the time he graduated he had decided to dedicate himself to composition rather than performance, and he had an address book full of contacts to help him on his way, some of whom we'll meet across this week.

Today Donald Macleod looks at Stéphane Mallarmé's influence on Debussy, through his verse and and the poet's famous Tuesday gatherings, an important rendezvous for Paris's artists, which Debussy attended regularly up until the older man's death in 1898.

Petite Suite (Cortège)

Claire Désert and Emmanuel Strosser, piano

Apparition

Natalie Dessay, soprano

Philippe Cassard, piano

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Emmanuel Pahud, flute

Berlin Philharmonic

Claudio Abbado, conductor

String Quartet, 4th movement, très modéré ? très mouvementé

Ebene Quartet

Estampes

Pagodes; La soirée dans Grenade; Jardins sous la pluie

Noriko Ogawa, piano

La Mer, de l'aube à midi sur la mer

Orchestre National de France

Daniele Gatti, conductor.

0320121010

Donald Macleod on how a baby daughter inspired one of Debussy's most popular piano works.

As he put yet another broken relationship behind him, Debussy now pinned his romantic hopes on the sophisticated Emma Bardac but it was their baby daughter who finally brought him true and lasting love, inspiring one of his most popular piano works. Presented by Donald Macleod.

03Debussy's Premiere Rhapsodie20141015

Why Debussy turned to conducting and wrote new chamber music for the Paris Conservatoire.

He had a profound impact upon music and musicians in his day, and created new genres for the piano and orchestra, this week Donald Macleod explores Claude Debussy through his chamber music.

Debussy, in the early twentieth century, had settled down with Emma Bardac, with whom he had a daughter Claude-Emma. The family struggled financially and Debussy had to take on conducting work. For the Paris conservatoire, he produced a sight-reading test piece, his Petite Pièce, and also an examination work, the Première Rhapsodie, both for clarinet and piano.

The prospect of generous commission fees drew Debussy to compose for the stage. He started work on a ballet project, called Khamma, which was to be set in Egypt. Another commision came from the dancer Ida Rubenstein, who asked for a new work based on the Martyrdom of St Sebastian. The finished piece caused much controversy and the Archbishop of Paris forbade Catholics to attend performances, under threat of excommunication!

03Literary Circles20080416

Donald Macleod looks at the 19th century Parisian cafe society in which Debussy mixed with some of the most influential artistic groups of the day.

La plus que lente

Walter Gieseking (piano)

L'apres-midi d'un faune

Paris Orchestra

Daniel Barenboim (conductor)

String Quartet

Talich Quartet

Recueillement (Cinq poemes de Baudelaire)

Christopher Maltman (baritone)

Malcolm Martineau (piano)

Prelude (Rodrigue et Chimene)

Lyon Opera Orchestra

Kent Nagano (conductor).

03Pierre Louys20160224

Donald Macleod examines Debussy's friendship with writer and poet Pierre Louys.

Debussy's association with the writer and poet, Pierre Louÿs, the friend he said he loved the most.

Over the course of the week Donald Macleod explores the musical fruits of Debussy's relationships with the society hostess Madame Vasnier, writer Pierre Louÿs, poets Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck and the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Born in 1862, Debussy's childhood was overshadowed by periods of uncertainty and poverty. His father Manuel was in and out of employment and his mother was obliged to work as a seamstress to make ends meet. During the Commune, Debussy's father enlisted in the National Guard but family life hit a further stumbling block after the movement was crushed in 1871 as Manuel Debussy was put on trial and imprisoned. On identifying a natural talent and a potential income, young Debussy was steered towards a career as a concert pianist. He began his studies at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10, the twelve or so years he spent there being the only formal education he received. By the time he graduated he had made many useful contacts, some of whom we'll encounter across this week, as well as coming to the conclusion that he should focus on composition rather than performance.

Continuing this week's exploration of Debussy's relationships, Donald Macleod examines his friendship with the writer and poet Pierre Louÿs, with whom he worked on several projects including Chansons de Bilitis as well as enjoying each other's company socially.

Pour invoquer Pan (Six Épigraphes antiques)

Jean-Pierre Armengaud, Olivier Chauzu, piano

Ballade

Pascal Rogé, piano

Chansons de Bilitis

Dawn Upshaw, soprano

Gilbert Kalish, piano

Images (Book 1)

Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Nuages, Fêtes (Nocturnes)

London Symphony Orchestra

Pierre Monteux, conductor.

03The Sea20180321

Donald Macleod explores a Donald Macleod explores a short period in Debussy's life which scandalised Paris and turned most of his friends against him

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

Donald Macleod explores a traumatic period in Debussy's life when Parisian society, and many of his close friends, turned against the composer for abandoning his wife in virtual poverty to run off with a woman of the world, the rich wife of a banker, Emma Bardac. The works he wrote during these first few years of the 20th century reflect both his state of mind and his environment.

Masques
Steven Osborne, piano

Estampes
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

Trois Chansons de France
Sarah Walker, mezzo soprano; Roger Vignoles, piano

L'Isle Joyeuse
Ulster Orchestra; Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor

Reflets dans l'eau (Mvt 1 Images)
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano

Dialogue du vent et de la mer (La Mer)
New Philharmonia Orchestra; Pierre Boulez, conductor.

Donald Macleod looks at one of the most difficult periods of Debussy's life.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod looks at one of the most difficult periods of Debussy's life.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod explores a Donald Macleod explores a short period in Debussy's life which scandalised Paris and turned most of his friends against him

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

Donald Macleod explores a traumatic period in Debussy's life when Parisian society, and many of his close friends, turned against the composer for abandoning his wife in virtual poverty to run off with a woman of the world, the rich wife of a banker, Emma Bardac. The works he wrote during these first few years of the 20th century reflect both his state of mind and his environment.

Masques
Steven Osborne, piano

Estampes
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

Trois Chansons de France
Sarah Walker, mezzo soprano; Roger Vignoles, piano

L'Isle Joyeuse
Ulster Orchestra; Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor

Reflets dans l'eau (Mvt 1 Images)
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano

Dialogue du vent et de la mer (La Mer)
New Philharmonia Orchestra; Pierre Boulez, conductor.

0420121011

Donald Macleod picks his way through Debussy's Preludes.

Donald Macleod picks his way through Debussy's Preludes, one of the composer's most significant contributions to piano literature, and looks at how financial necessity sometimes got in the way of Debussy's lofty artistic ambitions.

0420180322

Donald Macleod looks at the one time in Debussy's life when he was settled in domesticity.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

04A New World Dawns20180322

Donald Macleod looks at the one time in Debussy's life when he was settled in domesticity.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod explores Debussy's contented domestic life in the years leading up to the First World War

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

"Several days ago I became the father of a little girl. The joy of it has overwhelmed me a bit and still frightens me" wrote Debussy to a friend in 1905. Donald Macleod looks at the only period of Debussy's life when he was happily settled into domesticity, but, accepting invitations to conduct abroad to earn a better income, was taken away from his family more than he wanted.

Serenade for the Doll
Noriko Ogawa, piano

Poissons d'or (Images for piano Set 2)
Marc-Andre Hamelin, piano

Rondes de Printemps (Images)
London Symphony Orchestra; Pierre Monteux, conductor

La plus que lente
San Francisco Symphony; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

Trois Poemes de Stéphane Mallarmé
Lorna Anderson, soprano; Malcolm Martineau, piano

Jeux
Hallé Orchestra; Mark Elder (cond).

04Debussy's Cello Sonata20141016

He had a profound impact upon music and musicians in his day, and created new genres for the piano and orchestra, this week Donald Macleod explores Claude Debussy through his chamber music.

With the outset of World War One, the Daily Telegraph invited composers to contribute works towards the King Albert's Album, which would be a tribute to the Belgium monarch and his soldiers. Debussy responded with a melancholy work which references the Belgium national anthem, his Berceuse hèroïque for orchestra. Early on in the war, he also started to compose a set of Twelve Etudes for the piano, which he told his publisher would be a secret homage to those Frenchmen lost on the battlefields.

Debussy had been suffering physically for some time during this period and it was in 1915 that he was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent a risky operation; there were no antibiotics available, and afterwards, the pain was kept at bay with morphine. That same year, though, Debussy composed his Sonata for cello and piano, whilst he stayed at the villa Mon Coin.

Exploring the time when, suffering physical illness, Debussy wrote his Cello Sonata.

04Dramatic Works20080417

Donald Macleod considers how Parisian influences and also Wagner provided the inspiration for many of Debussy's dramatic works.

Rodrigue et Chimene (excerpt)

Gilles Ragon (tenor)

Helene Jossoud (mezzo-soprano)

Donna Brown (soprano)

Laurence Dale (tenor)

Chorus and Orchestra of Lyon Opera

Kent Nagano (conductor)

Pelleas et Melisande (excerpt from Act 3)

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)

Wolfgang Holzmair (baritone)

Laurent Naouri (baritone)

National Orchestra of France

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Jeux

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Lorin Maazel (conductor)

The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (excerpt)

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

James Conlon (conductor).

04Maeterlinck20160225

Donald Macleod discusses Debussy's attraction to Maeterlinck's play Pelleas and Melisande.

Debussy's attraction to the Belgian poet Maurice Maeterlinck's symbolist play resulted in his only complete opera.

Over the course of the week Donald Macleod explores the musical fruits of Debussy's relationships with the society hostess Madame Vasnier, writer Pierre Loüys, poets Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck and the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Born in 1862, Debussy's childhood was overshadowed by periods of uncertainty and poverty. His father Manuel was in and out of employment and his mother was obliged to work as a seamstress to make ends meet. During the Commune, Debussy's father enlisted in the National Guard but family life hit a further stumbling block after the movement was crushed in 1871 as Manuel Debussy was put on trial and imprisoned. On identifying a natural talent and a potential income, young Debussy was steered towards a career as a concert pianist. He began his studies at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10. The twelve odd years he spent there being the only formal education he received. By the time he graduated he had made many useful contacts, some of whom we'll encounter across this week, as well as coming to the conclusion that he should focus on composition rather than performance.

Today Donald Macleod charts Debussy's twelve years of labour over his ground-breaking setting of the Belgian poet Maurice Maeterlinck's symbolist drama to music.

Le Martyre de Saint-Sébastian, La Cour des lys

Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Charles Dutoit, conductor

Le Balcon

Nathalie Stutzmann, contralto

Catherine Collard, piano

Pélléas et Mélisande, Act 3 (excerpt)

Wolfgang Holzmair, Pélléas, tenor

Anne-Sophie Otter, Mélisande, mezzo-soprano

Laurent Naouri, Golaud, baritone

Orchestre National de France

Bernard Haitink, conductor

Ibéria

Orchestre National de Lyon

Jun Märkl, conductor.

0520180323

Donald Macleod looks at Debussy's final years, and a late burst of creativity in 1915.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

05Final Flowering20180323

Donald Macleod looks at Debussy's final years, and a late burst of creativity in 1915.

Series exploring the life and works of a succession of composers

Donald Macleod looks at Debussy's final years, and a late burst of creativity in 1915 before a steep decline in his health

In the week of the centenary of the composer's death, Donald Macleod looks at the development of Debussy's career against the background of his turbulent personal life. 'At every crossroads in Debussy's life there was a woman', wrote his biographer Marcel Dietschy, and this week we meet them: from Mme Vasnier, the married singer with whom he conducted an affair during his early years as a struggling composer in Paris and Rome, to the bohemian Gaby Dupont, and his first wife Lily - who attempted suicide when Debussy left her for Emma Bardac. He would settle happily with Emma for the rest of his life, and in his prime, touring internationally as a conductor, wrote to her and their beloved daughter Chouchou, expressing his longing for home.

Donald Macleod looks at a remarkable three months towards the end of Debussy's life, spent at a villa on the Channel coast which was painted several times by Monet. He went there to escape wartime Paris in 1915 with his wife Emma and daughter Chouchou, and from his letters of the time we can tell that he fell in love with the place, enjoying its garden and expansive view of the sea. He felt so at home there that despite already being seriously ill and increasingly anxious about the war, his new environment encouraged a final burst of creativity.

Berceuse Héroïque
Orchestre National de L'O.R.T.F; Jean Martinon, conductor

En Blanc et Noir
Katia Labèque, piano; Marielle Labèque, piano

Cello Sonata
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello; Benjamin Britten, piano

Sonata for flute, viola and harp
Philippe Bernold, flute; Gerard Causse, viola; Isabelle Moretti, harp.

05 LAST20121012

The outbreak of hostilities in 1914 was the prelude to Debussy's last great creative outburst, a handful of brilliant masterworks forged in the face of desperate illness and a world descending into global warfare. Presented by Donald Macleod.

How the start of hostilities in 1914 was the prelude to Debussy's last big creative burst.

05 LASTDebussy's Last Chamber Works20141017

He had a profound impact upon music and musicians in his day, and created new genres for the piano and orchestra, this week Donald Macleod explores Claude Debussy through his chamber music.

Debussy had undergone an operation for cancer, which left him very weak and in pain for the rest of his now shortened life. These were the early years of World War One, and Debussy was greatly saddened by reports of the scale of the carnage on the front line. His song, Noël des enfants qui n'ont plus de maison from 1915, doesn't hold back about the hopelessness of the time.

Debussy had had a burst of creativity in in 1915, where he composed, amongst other things, his Sonata for flute, viola and harp. During these final years of his life, he envisaged writing six sonatas, including some for wind instruments. His plans were never fully met, but he did manage to complete one final chamber work in 1917, his Sonata for violin and piano.

Donald Macleod focuses on Debussy's late burst of creativity in 1915.

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Donald Macleod discusses Debussy's rocky association with impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Debussy's rocky association with the Russian ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev leads to his final orchestral work, "Jeux".

Over the course of the week Donald Macleod explores the musical fruits of Debussy's relationships with the society hostess Madame Vasnier, writer Pierre Loüys, poets Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck and the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Born in 1862, Debussy's childhood was overshadowed by periods of uncertainty and poverty. His father Manuel was in and out of employment and his mother was obliged to work as a seamstress to make ends meet. During the Commune, Debussy's father enlisted in the National Guard but family life hit a further stumbling block after the movement was crushed in 1871 as Manuel Debussy was put on trial and imprisoned. On identifying a natural talent and a potential income, young Debussy was steered towards a career as a concert pianist. He began his studies at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10. The twelve odd years he spent there being the only formal education he received. By the time he graduated he had made many useful contacts, some of whom we'll encounter across this week, as well as coming to the conclusion that he should focus on composition rather than performance.

To conclude this week's series Donald Macleod looks at Debussy's difficult final years. As his health declines and money is in short supply, Debussy engages in a collaboration with the flamboyant ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum

Angela Hewitt, piano

Violin Sonata

Jennifer Pike, violin

Martin Roscoe, piano

Jeux

London Symphony Orchestra

Valery Gergiev, conductor

En blanc et noir

Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano

Vovka Ashkenazy, piano.

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Donald Macleod examines what has been described as the complex and contradictory nature of Debussy's character.

Trois poemes de Stephane Mallarme

Sandrine Piau (soprano)

Jose van Immerseel (piano)

Iberia (Images)

Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Charles Dutoit (conductor)

Violin Sonata

Augustin Dumay (violin)

Maria Joao Pires (piano)

La mer (Dialogue du vent)

Philharmonia Orchestra

Geoffrey Simon (conductor).