Debussy's Clair de Lune & Reverie is published by Santorella Publications and transcribed by Jonathon Robbins. These un-edited “Concert Originals” are perfect recital, concert and audition pieces for an intermediate to advanced pianist. This magnificent title also includes a performance CD. Its masterpieces exemplify an exceptional display of talent possessed by Claude Debussy and the stylistic impact that he had in moving the Romantic Era towards Impressionism.
Clair de Lune, the third and most famous movement from Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, was composed in 1890 when Debussy was 28 years old. However, this masterpiece was not published until 1903. Clair de Lune has been featured in films, commercials, and television shows for decades. It has most recently experienced a revival in popular movies such as Ocean's Eleven & Twilight. It is believed that Debussy was inspired by the Paul Verlaine poem of the same name. The quiet, rolling melody and fantastical nature of the mood it evokes speaks to the dream-like landscape that Verlaine references as opposed to Reverie which is indicative of his stylistic approach. Debussy
once said, “Music is made up of colors and rhythms
. The rest is a lot of humbug, invented by frigid imbeciles.”
No piece exemplifies his conviction better than Rêverie. Debussy's
use of melodic transitions, arpeggios, dynamics and tempo creates a feast for the senses. Though he dedicated much of his life to Orchestral, Chamber & Operatic works, he also left an indelible mark with his compositions for piano. Clair de Lune
may be the most popular and recognizable piano work, but Rêverie
is the most colorful and significant example of the Romantic
period evolving into Impressionism.
Clair de Lune by Paul Verlaine
(1844 - 1896)
Votre âme est un paysage choisi,
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques,
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi,
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.
Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur,
L'amour vainqueur et la vie opportune,
Ils n'ont pas l'air de croire à leur bonheur,
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,
Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres,
Et sangloter d'extase les jets d'eau,
Les grands jets d'eau sveltes parmi les marbres.
Clair de Lune by Paul Verlaine
Your soul is a chosen landscape,
Where charming masked and costumed figures go,
Playing lute and dancing and almost,
Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.
All sing in a minor key,
Of all-conquering love and careless fortune,
They do not seem to believe in their happiness,
And their song mingles with the moonlight.
The still moonlight, sad and beautiful,
Which gives the birds to dream in the trees,
And makes the fountain sprays sob in ecstasy,
The tall, slender fountain sprays among the marble statues.
Claude Debussy was born in St. Germain-en-Laye, France, on August 22, 1862. He died in Paris on March 25, 1918. Debussy is often regarded as the creator of musical impressionism although he denied being described as such. However, it is undeniable that after his early regard for Wagner vanished, he came under the influence of Mallarme, Verlains, etc., and coloring became more important to him than form. Debussy's use of the pentatonic and whole-tone scales as well as consecutive intervals of various kinds lent his music an uncommon coloring. Some feel his style lends itself to imitation, thereby halting any further developments. This sentiment is not entirely true. Successful composers like Ravel, Bartok and Stravinsky have all found inspiration in Debussy's pieces. Instead of halting any further developments in Impressionism, these composers used Debussy's works to develop musical styles such as Neo-Classicism, Expressionism, Serial Music, etc.