Claude Debussy - Famous Composers in History

Theatre named for Claude Debussy in Cannes. Editorial credit: Baloncici /
Theatre named for Claude Debussy in Cannes. Editorial credit: Baloncici /

Claude Debussy was a French music composer. He, together with renowned composers such as Maurice Ravel, moved the music industry to greater heights.

Early Life

Claude was born to Manuel-Achille Debussy and Victorine Manoury Debussy in Saint-Germain, France on August 22, 1862. Initially, his name was Achille-Claude Debussy, which he later changed to Claude-Achille Debussy. His family had moved to Paris, but he then fled in 1870 to Claude with his mother. It was when he was in Claude that he met with the likes of Marie Maute' Fleurville who was also a music composer and this helped him a lot in his music.


Debussy started as a pianist. He received a scholarship to study in Académie des Beaux-Arts, Rome from 1885 to 1887. Although he composed many songs while he was still in the academy, his artistry was criticised. However, he expressed his wish to do his work and in 1888, he met Richard Wagner who greatly encouraged him. The German was famed with opera, Wagnerian music. Debussy also met Erik Satie, who together with Richard, became an inspiration to Debussy. They were young and sensational; therefore, Debussy followed their example. Due to this influence, Debussy started to perform in Paris. He had then developed into a great pianist as well as a music composer.

Major Contributions

Claude Debussy's composure and artistry have contributed a lot to the music industry. Many musicians who came after him base their work on Debussy's work. Debussy changed the Impressionist music style, and many have debated on this. He personally never liked his music termed as ‘Impressionist' as he argued that he was singing reality. Moreover, he was known for singing non-traditional tune and symbolism. Such music made him an example to many composers during and after his generation.


Despite Debussy being one of the most influential composers of his generation, he also faced many challenges. He had been greatly criticised especially while under scholarship in Rome. His sponsors had expected a lot from the talented young man. However, his desire to compose his music was not well received.

Claude Debussy composed unique songs. The classification of his work as ‘Impressionist' did not auger well with him since he considered his songs as reality as compared to Impressionist songs.

Furthermore, Claude Debussy's personal life was not stable. He underwent a series of marital scandals and divorces. He first had love affairs with Marie-Blanche who was the wife of Henri Vasnier. Such relationships tainted his name and image.

Death And Legacy

Claude Debussy succumbed to rectal cancer in Paris on March 25, 1918. His burial did not receive state recognition though it deserved it because the death occurred when The First World War was going on. His music has become the basis of reference for today's musicians. Apart from his home country, France, musicians across Europe base their songs on Debussy's composures. His use of bitonality variations and parallel chords changed the style of play.


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