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Debussy: The Quiet Revolutionary (Unlocking the Masters) (Unlocking the Masters Series) Paperback – 28 Jun 2007
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Debussy's music, some of the greatest composed in the twentieth century, also ranks among the most challenging. His influence on other composers was enormous: Bartok, Stravinsky, Boulez, and Messaien, all freely acknowledged their debt to their groundbreaking predecessor. "Debussy" explores the extraordinary sophistication and refinement of Debussy's music, pointing out subtleties that otherwise could take years of listening to fully appreciate. Lederer shows how the composer developed his own unmistakable sound from a variety of musical inspirations, including folk, medieval, the musical languages of Spain and Java, as well as the 17th century French clavecinistes and his musica ancestor (and idol) Chopin.
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"Who will discover the secret of musical composition? The sound of the sea, the curve of the horizon, the wind in the leaves, the cry of a bird, register complex impressions within us. Then suddenly, without any deliberate consent on our part, one of these memories issues forth to express itself in the language of music. It bears its own harmony within it. By no effort of ours can we achieve anything more truthful or accurate. In this way only does a soul destined for music discover its most beautiful ideas." - - Claude Debussy (1911)
The inclusion of a CD makes this book an excellent value and a perfect volume for understanding how best to listen to and better understand this "quiet revolutionary."
One note on accuracy: On page 29, Lederer states "the opening flute melody" of Faune recurs, however, he fails to mention this melody is played by the oboe, overlooking an important change in orchestral color.
The balance of the book (majority of the volume) takes you through Debussy's catalog of works, with the author observing how these musical ideas are manifested - often including the "timing" on the CD where the reader/listener can follow along, replay, and examine closely. Debussy's musical treasures reveal themselves upon replaying, relistening - this gem of a book, rewards you even sooner.
Diane C. Donovan
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