#334 DEBUSSY CLAIR DE LUNE

#334

DEBUSSY

CLAIR DE LUNE

IVAN MORAVEC, PIANO

With this post, I am starting a new category in MUSIC I LOVE – under “Piano” I’m inserting a new sub-heading: PIANO GEMS. Piano Gems will be individual piano pieces, six minutes or less in duration, works that are piano classics and/or pieces that I love and want to share—most likely, both. There are many compositions that have greatly influenced me—as well as millions of other players and listeners—works that get played and heard so often that we take their existence in our collective music memories for granted.

But there they are, in the back of our minds, always asserting their presence.

Many such piano gems are played as encores at the conclusion of piano recitals. One such work is Debussy’s Clair de Lune.

Clair de Lune—”Light of the Moon”—is the third piece (of four) in Debussy’s “Suite bergamasque.” Debussy wrote these pieces in 1890 at the age of 28. At the time he wrote them, he was not entirely satisfied with them, and he delayed their publication until 1905. By that time, his style had considerably changed from what it had been fifteen years earlier, and he was reluctant to publish Suite bergamasque at all. His publisher, though—trying to capitalize on Debussy’s fame—persuaded him to go ahead and publish.

*****

The power of titles…

Of the four pieces, Clair de Lune has, by far, become the most well-known. It is played the world over. There are few pianists who do not, at some point in their lives, play Clair de Lune. Although the music is extraordinarily beautiful—it sets a mood of unrivalled calmness—a big reason for its staying power over the years is its title—Clair de Lune, meaning Light of the Moon. Debussy was very much a person who loved picturesque and suggestive titles for all his works, from his small works such as this to his larger ones like the orchestral La Mer. So, it is quite ironic that Debussy’s original title for this piece had nothing to do with moonlight.

With this post, I am starting a new category in MUSIC I LOVE – under “Piano” I’m inserting a new sub-heading: PIANO GEMS. Piano Gems will be individual piano pieces, six minutes or less in duration, works that are piano classics and/or pieces that I love and want to share—most likely, both. There are many compositions that have greatly influenced me—as well as millions of other players and listeners—works that get played and heard so often that we take their existence in our collective music memories for granted.

But there they are, in the back of our minds, always asserting their presence.

Many such piano gems are played as encores at the conclusion of piano recitals. One such work is Debussy’s Clair de Lune.

Clair de Lune—”Light of the Moon”—is the third piece (of four) in Debussy’s “Suite bergamasque.” Debussy wrote these pieces in 1890 at the age of 28. At the time he wrote them, he was not entirely satisfied with them, and he delayed their publication until 1905. By that time, his style had considerably changed from what it had been fifteen years earlier, and he was reluctant to publish Suite bergamasque at all. His publisher, though—trying to capitalize on Debussy’s fame—persuaded him to go ahead and publish.

*****

The power of titles…

Of the four pieces, Clair de Lune has, by far, become the most well-known. It is played the world over. There are few pianists who do not, at some point in their lives, play Clair de Lune. Although the music is extraordinarily beautiful—it sets a mood of unrivalled calmness—a big reason for its staying power over the years is its title—Clair de Lune, meaning Light of the Moon. Debussy was very much a person who loved picturesque and suggestive titles for all his works, from his small works such as this to his larger ones like the orchestral La Mer. So, it is quite ironic that Debussy’s original title for this piece had nothing to do with moonlight.

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