“Destiny Should Allow Me to Finish It”

Robert Orledge

in Rethinking Debussy

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755639
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894932 | DOI:
“Destiny Should Allow Me to Finish It”

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Although destiny was a concept more usually associated with Maeterlinck and Pelléas et Mélisande, it was still very much in Debussy's mind as he struggled to finish La chute de la Maison Usher in 1916. Hardly any music emerged from the first two versions of the libretto that Debussy made in 1908–10, and it was not until 1915–16 that he was able to make any real progress with his music. This chapter traces the gestation and chronology of Usher, suggesting reasons why it remained only half-finished, as well as outlining the problems involved in preparing the complete performing version. It also examines Debussy's motivic and harmonic planning for Usher, which suggests that its major difference from Pelléas lies in its unique blend of linear total chromaticism with an underlying tonal structure.

Keywords: Debussy; The Fall of the House of Usher; La chute de la Maison Usher; Pelléas et Mélisande; reconstruction

Chapter.  7558 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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