NYTimes article on Debussy book

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lennygoran
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NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by lennygoran » Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:14 am

I learned alot about Debuusy from this review-it's a long article-I posted the first part of it. Never thought about him and Wagner. Len

By John Adams
Nov. 19, 2018

DEBUSSY
A Painter in Sound
By Stephen Walsh
Illustrated. 323 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $28.95.




By John Adams
Nov. 19, 2018

DEBUSSY
A Painter in Sound
By Stephen Walsh
Illustrated. 323 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $28.95.

In 1890, the 28-year-old Claude Debussy felt forced to write the archetypal starving-artist letter to a friend. “Forgive me, but could you lend me 20 francs until the end of the month,” he pleaded. “I’m very ashamed at writing to you, but I’m desperately hungry.” This was the same Debussy who within the next dozen years would produce some of the most radically original, influential and popular of all European art music.

Hungry he may well have been (according to another friend, the composer could afford neither to eat nor to clothe himself), but “desperate” is a word almost impossible to associate with this most fastidious and discriminating of composers. Perhaps, as Stephen Walsh muses in his new biographical study, “Debussy: A Painter in Sound,” he was merely resorting to his skills as “an adept borrower.” Money and the practical necessities of life would remain a lifelong torment for him, an artist forever locked into his own internal world of sounds and images.

His was a creative voice so subtle and so thankfully free of histrionics and emotional excess that he is for us by now the quintessential French composer. Yet in gauging the seismic shifts in the evolution of Western classical music, convention tends to consign him to the much too confining role of “Impressionist.”

His achievement, especially when one considers the mediocrity into which French music had declined in the years before his birth, was sui generis miraculous. And it is all the more impressive for having been wrought in an era when the imposing figure of Richard Wagner cast an almost suffocating spell not only upon music, but on almost all aspects of European culture.




Born in 1862, Debussy came of age around the time of the 1882 premiere of “Parsifal.” A superb pianist — “He had a soft, deep touch which evoked full, rich, many-shaded sonorities,” according to one friend — Debussy played all the major Wagner operas at the keyboard, and in his 20s he made a modest income accompanying lectures about “The Ring” for amateur listeners. Eventually he grew to become the anti-Wagner. Where the German master’s expressive world is that of titanic wills in collision and of greed, redemption and the agon of scorching human passions, the Frenchman’s voice is that of the natural world, of water and wind, of light and shadow, and of the most subtle gradations of sonority and color

“Debussy’s music never bullies,” Walsh says. Whereas Wagner’s default position is loud — not just acoustically loud, but emotionally and psychologically loud — Debussy’s is soft. Perhaps because of this natural intimacy of voice and its aversion to theatricality and exhibitionism (think Richard Strauss’s “Elektra” or Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand”), Debussy’s importance is easy to overlook. This book reminds us just how astonishing the radicalism of this composer’s creations really is.

Walsh, whose two-volume biography of Stravinsky brought both human scale and deep musical understanding to that composer’s long and complex life, treats Debussy both as a creature of his own time and as a harbinger of 20th-century modernism.

His France was the France of la Belle Époque; of the Eiffel Tower, the Folies Bergère and the Dreyfus Affair; of Impressionist painting, Mallarmé’s poetry and the novels of Proust. His life story is bracketed on the one end by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and on the other by the Great War. He died, yet again under financial duress, in 1918 just months before the Armistice after suffering years of an excruciating rectal cancer.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/book ... raphy.html

Lance
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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by Lance » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:09 am

Lenny, very interesting article. This is a book that I must read! Thank you.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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maestrob
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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by maestrob » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:53 am

Yes, Len, thank you: a most enlightening article. I cannot read books now; my right eye gives me a double image, but perhaps I can find the text available for computer download, which I can still read. Wonderful music, and such a difficult life! Wasn't it Debussy who said something like "I'm good at music and gardening, but nothing else."?

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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by Lance » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:40 pm

I, too, didn't realize Debussy had such a life. All the more reason to read this book.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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lennygoran
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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by lennygoran » Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:53 pm

maestrob wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:53 am
Yes, Len, thank you: a most enlightening article. I cannot read books now; my right eye gives me a double image, but perhaps I can find the text available for computer download, which I can still read. Wonderful music, and such a difficult life! Wasn't it Debussy who said something like "I'm good at music and gardening, but nothing else."?
A gardener-amazing! Len

Rach3
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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by Rach3 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:35 am

A rare recording, 1975 lp, of the Debussy Etudes (1915) that never made it to cd ,Anthony di Bonaventura, pianist, ok sound on this transfer :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqe6u5kCLcA

More extroverted,Romantic than many, yet amazing transparency, seems could almost dictate a score from his playing.

John F
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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by John F » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:32 am

Walsh's book is available in Kindle format and can be read, in the type size you prefer, either in a Kindle e-reader or in amazon's free Kindle app for Windows or whatever.
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by maestrob » Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:45 am

John F wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:32 am
Walsh's book is available in Kindle format and can be read, in the type size you prefer, either in a Kindle e-reader or in amazon's free Kindle app for Windows or whatever.
AhA!

Thanks JohnF, and Happy Thanksgiving! :D

John F
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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by John F » Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:52 am

And a happy Thanksgiving to you!

Incidentally, you may be able to "borrow" the Kindle edition from NYPL, if they have it - the book may be too new for that. Check the online catalog at https://catalog.nypl.org/. (I'm too lazy to do it myself.)
John Francis

Lance
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Re: NYTimes article on Debussy book

Post by Lance » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:42 pm

My copy arrived today, November 23, 2018 - and I'm already involved in it.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

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