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Culture & Religion

Bach, Beethoven…then Debussy?

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy’s birth. Falling into the impressionist camp, the French composer is able to capture the essence of a feeling perhaps better than anyone else. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Orchestras across the world are featuring Claude Debussy in their programs this year because it is the 150th anniversary of the French composer’s birth. Bach and Beethoven typically top the list of great classical composers but the impressionistic compositions of Debussy may accomplish something Bach and Beethoven cannot: “The impressionist era abandons everything a musician knows in favor of capturing an essence: The essence of a feeling or of a place, even an image. The impressionists play with synesthesia, mixing the senses, translating sight into sound.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Classical music is perhaps the most demanding and rewarding of artistic genres. Careful attention to music composition isn’t for everyone, especially those who treat music as background noise, but music is able to accomplish a surprising amount. “It is the only art form capable of capturing an emotion or, even, the heart of a country. Most classical pieces do not aim to accomplish so much, but this is why Debussy is an exceptionally difficult composer to play. A musician must be a true extension of their instrument to transcend beyond the notes on the page into the soul of something else.”

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