Debussy in Performance

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Yale University Press, 1999 - Music - 301 pages
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Claude Debussy, who composed works of major significance in a wide range of musical and theatrical genres, has exerted a fundamental influence on musicians of the twentieth century. This book explores how Debussy's compositions are brought to life in performance, investigating the composer's own expectations, the traditions surrounding the performance of his music, and the internal and contextual evidence that can give insight to performers of his works.

Leading international scholars and interpreters of Debussy's music draw on his letters and music criticism as well as on the memoirs of performers close to him to discuss issues of performance forces, tempo and its flexibility, performer license, and the interpretation of expressive indications in the scores. They urge performers to recognize the symbolism and the value of silence in Debussy's work. And they show that it is particularly important to focus on aspects of timbre, voice-leading, and the musical arabesque, together with meter and phrase ambiguities, when playing his music. The book also includes the translation of an article on the opera Pelleas et Melisande In performance by one of Debussy's original conductors, Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht, and an interview with the composer-conductor Pierre Boulez on approaches to Pelleas and the orchestral works.

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About the author (1999)

James R. Briscoe, Professor of Musicology at Butler University, is a specialist in French music, the works of Claude Debussy, and women's music. He has received research and teaching grants from the French government, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mellon Foundation. In addition to numerous articles, critical editions, and books, he is the editor of Contemporary Anthology of Music by Women (IUP, 1997).

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