Claude Debussy Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1862 -1918 *** Full Name: Achille-Claude Debussy *** Date of Birth: Claude Debussy was born on August 22nd 1862 *** Place of Birth: Claude Debussy was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France *** Occupation: French Composer *** Date of Death: Claude Debussy died on March 25th 1918 *** Place of Death: Claude Debussy died in Paris, France ***
Claude Debussy Fact 1: Claude Debussy was born on August 22nd 1862 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France and would become a famous composer.
Claude Debussy Fact 2: Family: He came from a family that was comfortable. The names of his parents were Manuel-Achille Debussy and Victorine Manoury Debussy. His father was the owner of a China shop and his mother a seamstress. In 1867 the whole family moved to Paris and in 1870 as the Franco-Prussian broke out his pregnant mother took him to a paternal aunt’s home in Cannes to get away from the fighting. Siblings: He grew up with four siblings.
Claude Debussy Fact 3: Education: He was educated at Paris Conservatoire where he spent eleven years.
Claude Debussy Fact 4: Career: He began his career as an accompanist.
Claude Debussy Fact 5: As a boy his aunt paid for him to attend piano lessons when he was just seven with Jean Cerutti an Italian violinist.
Claude Debussy Fact 6: While attending the Conservatory he also befriended Isidor Philipp with whom he had a lifelong friendship.
Claude Debussy Fact 7: From early on he was experimental and preferred dissonances and intervals which were not taught at the academy.
Claude Debussy Fact 8: If he had so chosen he could have had a professional career as a pianist.
Claude Debussy Fact 9: He accompanied Nadezhada von Meck in 1880 to 1882, the very wealthy patroness of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky while she travelled with her family around Europe.
Claude Debussy Fact 10: While travelling with the family he taught the children music as well as playing four handed pieces with Nadezhada herself as well as performing with likeminded musical friends.
Claude Debussy Fact 11: Marie-Blanche Vasnier was a singer with whom Claude Debussy got to know when he was an accompanist and they were known to have had an eight year affair.
Claude Debussy Fact 12: Her husband was a Parisian civil servant, Henri Vasnier, who together with his wife supported Claude professionally as well as emotionally. It was Henri who introduced Claude to French writers of influence around this time.
Claude Debussy Fact 13: This would lead to Claude’s early writing which would give rise to his first songs.
Claude Debussy Fact 14: In 1884 he would win the Prix de Rome with L’enfant prodigue, his composition which would lead to his receiving a scholarship to Academie des Beaux-Arts which also included a four year residency at the Villa Medici in Rome and the French Academy.
Claude Debussy Fact 15: Although he found much to dislike in Italy, the food was terrible, the company worse, his living accommodation was awful and he simply did not like Italian opera the only saving grace was Franz Liszt who he admired enormously.
Claude Debussy Fact 16: Between 1888 and 1889 he was introduced to Richard Wagner’s work and was quite taken with mastery, sensuousness and striking harmonies and although Debussy did not copy his style he certainly was influenced by it as was evident in La demoiselle elue.
Claude Debussy Fact 17: He met a kindred spirit in Erik Satie in that they both struggled financially to keep themselves afloat, they frequented the same café society and were both musicians of the bohemian style of the time.Claude Debussy Fact 18: Having embarked on several affairs in his early life and found himself living with one or two, a situation that was largely frowned upon, he eventually married Rosalie Texier but would find her unable to bear his children. He then undertook an affair with a married women, the mother of a student, whose family would disown her when her secret became known.
Claude Debussy Fact 19: Emma Bardac would eventually become Claude Debussy’s wife but not until after the birth of their daughter. The couple lived briefly in England before returning to France where they were married in 1908.
Claude Debussy Fact 20: Claude Debussy died in Paris at his home of rectal cancer on March 25th 1918 aged fifty five years. His body would finally be put to rest in the Passy Cemetery in Paris. His daughter, Claude-Emma sadly died a year after her father of diphtheria.
Influence and Legacy of Claude Debussy: Some of his best known compositions include Suite bergamasque in 1905 which comprised of four parts, the Prelude, the Menuet, Clair de Lune and Passepied.
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