Russian Imprints in Debussy's Piano Music

Roy Howat

in Rethinking Debussy

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755639
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894932 | DOI:
Russian Imprints in Debussy's Piano Music

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André Schaeffner's pioneering article of 1953 about Russian influence on Debussy (“Debussy et ses rapports avec la musique russe”) remains untranslated and little digested in English-speaking circles, except for Elaine Brody's “The Russians in Paris, 1889–1914.” Historically fascinating, these sources do not offer close study of Debussy's piano music. This chapter concentrates on how the imprint of Tchaikovsky, Balakirev, and Musorgsky makes itself felt throughout Debussy's piano music, from his first three surviving piano pieces of 1880 to those written during the 1914–18 war. Chabrier, Fauré, and Ravel are equally and inextricably involved in these relationships, reflecting a wide fascination at the time with Russian music (among other exotic or semi-exotic sources) as a source of musical renewal in France.

Keywords: Debussy; Balakirev; Musorgsky; piano music; Russian influence; Tchaikovsky

Chapter.  8029 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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