Debussy: A Painter in Sound

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In Debussy: A Painter in Sound Stephen Walsh paints a beautiful portrait of the French composer Achille-Claude Debussy and explores who he was as an artist, a man, and a rebel. Walsh takes a chronological approach to the work and follows Debussy’s life alongside his development as a composer. Debussy impressively developed into a brilliant artist, despite his humble background. Debussy was educated by his mother while his wayward father was in prison, and his introduction to music was from working with a bohemian musical teacher. As an artist, Debussy was unique from the start. He didn’t approach his music the same way as his predecessors or his contemporaries, even though, from age ten, he was schooled by conventionalists in the Paris Conservatoire. Debussy approached his music like an artist taking inspiration for many muses including women in his life, experiences working and traveling, poets, writers, and other composers and their music. Debussy’s enduring fame in many respects linked to his rebellious approach to his music. Through his studies, Debussy learned technical skills that seemed to allow him then to produce fantastic music that defied convention in a way that realistically captured beauty and emotion.

I would recommend this book even to those who don’t typically find themselves interested in musical composition. This book offers just as much to the musical expert as to the musical laymen. As a novice to musical composition, I found myself inspired by the rebel persona of Debussy. He was a talented artist who worked hard to learn his craft, but also stayed true to himself and his aesthetic that departed from popular musical tradition and convention. I think everyone could learn something from reading this illuminating story of life and musical career of Debussy the creative rebel.


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Author Stephen Walsh
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 336 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2018-Oct-23
ISBN 9781524731922
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2019
Category Modern Literature
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