Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
02Fin de si\u00e8cle2018032020190813 (R3)

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.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

03The Sea2018032120190814 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores a Donald Macleod explores a short period in Debussy's life that 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.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

04A New World Dawns2018032220190815 (R3)

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).

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

05Final Flowering2018032320190816 (R3)

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.

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201802Fin De Si\u00e8cle2018032020190813 (R3)

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.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201803The Sea2018032120190814 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores a Donald Macleod explores a short period in Debussy's life that 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.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201804A New World Dawns2018032220190815 (R3)

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).

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201805Final Flowering2018032320190816 (R3)

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.

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.