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Presented by Noontime Concerts April 10 - August 21

Overview

 

Claude Debussy (né Achille-Claude Debussy), who is often considered one of the most original and influential composers of late 19th and early 20th-century music, spent a lifetime passionately committed to demonstrating that “music remains for all time the finest means of expression we have.” From 1879 – 1917 he composed 38 piano works; 90 songs; chamber music including works for piano, cello, violin, flute, viola, harp, clarinet, bassoon, and trumpet; 4 ballets; 14 orchestral works; 34 dramatic works, and 1 opera.

Although he only composed one full-length opera, Pelléas et Mélisandre, Debussy actually produced an enormous output of vocal works.  He composed over 90 songs for voice and piano, most of which were composed during the 1880’s during his late teens and 20’s. These early masterpieces show a deep love of French literature and poetry, especially Mallarmé, Baudelaire, and his childhood friend Paul Verlaine. His keen appreciation of Wagner is also apparent through much of the harmonic language of these songs, although he would later come to reject Wagner’s overtly emotional idiom (and length of compositions!)

Debussy also dabbled in writing poetry and in 1892/93 he composed Proses Lyriques, a song cycle set to the composer’s own poetry. These songs – perhaps more than any others he wrote – best illustrate Debussy’s use of the piano as an equal partner with the voice, rather than as mere background accompaniment. The orchestral piano writing shows off the composer’s near lifelong fascination with producing different colors and timbres from the piano.

During this centenary year of his death, March 25, 1918, Noontime Concerts will present 8 commemorative programs to honor the legacy of this original, prolific, poetic, and iconoclastic composer. We hope to awaken your curiosity and to entice your ears to hear the depth, breadth, mystery, nuance, unique harmony and structure, and sheer beauty of Claude Debussy’s life and music.

Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel*

Ravel’s stylistic relationship to Debussy is especially interesting. Marked similarities in their music are apparent and Ravel himself willingly expressed his debt to his older countryman. Ravel’s early interest in elaborate yet finely detailed textures clearly owes much to Debussy (although his application of Debussian textural ideas to the keyboard notably in Jeux d’eau, at a time when Debussy’s major piano works had not yet appeared, may, in turn, have influenced the older composer), and Ravel’s harmonic vocabulary, with its richly structured triadic extensions and freely employed nonharmonic tones, was no doubt also in part derived from his predecessor. Further reminiscent of Debussy is a preference for brief melodic ideas, developed mainly by repetition and subtle modification. Yet Ravel’s music projects little of the ambiguity or mystery so characteristic of Debussy. To Debussy’s seemingly unbroken transitional flow, it opposes lucid formal articulations, and Ravel’s harmonic innovations are more firmly tied to traditional root movements, providing a stronger tonal pull. Indeed, in general, Ravel’s music seems more solid, more firmly anchored, than Debussy’s. Its rhythmic patterns are more regular, and its cool lyricism is bound within a much more clearly delineated framework of phrase divisions.

*Debussy & Ravel: form – Indiana University, Bloomington www.indiana.edu/~mkgmusic/t351/unit1/Debusst&Ravel.html

Debussy Festival Performance Schedule

All concerts start at 12:30 PM at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral. Directions

Claude Debussy Biographical Timeline

Courtesy of Centre de documentation Claude Debussy Copyright © 2007

Formative Years

1862

22 August
Birth at Saint-Germain-en-Laye (38, Rue au Pain) of Achille-Claude Debussy, first child of Manuel-Achille Debussy and Victorine Manoury. Debussy’s parents ran a china shop.

1863

September
Birth of their second child, Adèle-Clémentine.

1864

31 July
Christening of Achille-Claude Debussy. Godmother and godfather to the infant were, respectively, his aunt Clémentine Debussy, and her friend, Achille Arosa.

End of year
The unsuccessful china shop is closed up. The Debussy family move to Clichy in northern Paris, where they are taken in by Edmée Manoury, Achille-Claude’s grandmother.

1867

19 September
Birth in Paris of the third child, Emmanuel.

1868

Manuel Debussy finds work at the Paul Dupont printing shop. The family sets up in Paris (69, Rue Saint-Honoré).

1870

Victorine Debussy takes her children to Cannes to stay with her sister-in-law Clémentine, Claude’s aunt. Debussy has his first music lessons with the violinist Jean Cerutti.

16 February
Birth of the fourth child, Alfred.

1871

March-May
Manuel Debussy joins the National Guard and takes part in the Paris Commune. After the Commune is defeated, he is held prisoner at the Satory camp, where he meets the composer Charles de Sivry. Sivry recommends Debussy to his mother, Antoinette Mauté, a piano teacher. For many months, Victorine Debussy, and her four children live in a very small apartment (59 bis, Rue Pigalle). She provides for Debussy’s education at home. Unlike his brothers and sisters, he does not go to school.

December
Trial of Manuel Debussy by the Conseil de Guerre (War Council), which sentences him to a four-year jail term.

1872

May
Victorine Debussy petitions the military authorities to reduce her husband’s prison sentence.

22 October
After a year under Antoinette Mauté’s teaching, Debussy is admitted to the Conservatoire, joining Antoine Marmontel’s piano and Albert Lavignac’s solfeggio classes.

1873

Beginning of year
After a year in prison, Manuel Debussy is released, his custodial sentence converted into a four-year suspension of civil rights.

1 September
The family moves into a two-room apartment at 13, Rue Clapeyron.

10 November
Birth of the fifth child, Eugène-Octave.

1874

13 January
Debussy’s piano examination inspires the following comment from his teacher Marmontel: “Charming child, true temperament of an artist; will become a distinguished musician; a great future.”

July
Second honorable mention in piano examination, playing Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto.

1875

Debussy strikes up a friendship with Gabriel Pierné and Paul Vidal.

Juillet
First honorable mention in piano examination, playing Chopin’s first Ballade.

1876

16 January
Debussy’s first appearance at a public concert at Chauny (Aisne), organized by the local industry’s brass band. He accompanies the singer Léontine Mendès in a program of operatic extracts and instrumental pieces

18 March
Second concert at Chauny.

June
Awarded first medal in solfeggio exam; no award for piano.

1877

Spring
Claude’s brother Eugène dies from meningitis, aged less than 4 years.

July
Second prize in piano examination, playing the first movement of Schumann’s Sonata in G minor. This second prize shared with Camille Bellaigue, who later became a music critic.

27 November
Debussy enters Émile Durand’s harmony class.

1878

June
Failure in the piano competition. Debussy receives no prize.

1879

Beginning of year
Makes friends at the Conservatoire with Raymond Bonheur and René Chansarel.

20 June
No prizes for Debussy in his piano and solfeggio examinations. Émile Durand makes the following assessment: “Extremely gifted in harmony, but desperately careless.”

Summer
Debussy stays at the Château of Chenonceaux with Marguerite Wilson-Pelouze, a woman of substantial means and an ardent admirer of Wagner. He discovers the charms of a life of luxury and decides to become a composer.

October
Debussy enters Auguste Bazille’s accompaniment classes, along with Maurice Emmanuel. Definitive failure in the piano competition.

End of year
First compositions: Madrid, Princesse des Espagnes and Ballade à la lune, songs on poems by Alfred de Musset.

1880

June
First prize as an accompanist, but no award in the harmony examination. After three years of study with Émile Durand, Debussy’s name is removed from the class list on 30 September.

20 July – 5 November
Debussy is engaged as accompanist by Nadezhda von Meck and stays at Interlaken (Switzerland), Arcachon (Villa Marguerite), Paris, Nice, Genoa, Naples, Florence (Villa Oppenheim). In September, he composes his first Trio en sol majeur for piano, violin, and cello, for Madame von Meck’s small ensemble which he formed with Pachulsky (violin) and Danilchenko (cello). Transcription for piano duet of three dances from Tchaikovsky’s Lac des cygnes, Act III.

End of year
Debussy becomes piano accompanist for Madame Moreau-Sainti’s singing class, a position he was to keep for four years. Here he meets Marie Vasnier, wife of Henri Vasnier

24 December
Debussy enters Ernest Guiraud’s composition class. Attends César Franck’s organ class for a few months, as an auditor.

1881

Beginning of year
Debussy sends his Symphonie en si mineur for piano duet to Madame von Meck. He gives private lessons to his first pupil, Georges Cuignache.
Debussy is a frequent visitor to the Vasnier household in Paris at 28, Rue de Constantinople. He composes a dozen songs for Marie Vasnier, with whom he falls in love, among them Caprice, Aimons-nous et dormons, Les Baisers, Rondel chinois, Jane, La fille aux cheveux de lin, Fleur des blés.

Mid-July – beginning December
In Moscow until the end of September with Madame von Meck, moving to Rome on 2 October and then to Florence. Composes Triolet à Philis and Souhait, songs on poems by Théodore de Banville, and Diane, overture for piano duet.

1882

8 January
Debussy completes Fantoches on a poem by Paul Verlaine in the latter’s Fêtes galantes a collection he must have found at the Vasniers.

12 May
Public concert at Flaxland’s, the piano maker, in Rue des Mathurins, where Debussy and Marie Vasnier give the first rendering of Fête galante and Les Roses, songs on poems by Théodore de Banville.
Unsuccessful competition entry for the Prix de Rome, with Le Printemps, sung by the Anatole de Ségur choir for female voices and orchestra.

June
First published work: Nuit d’étoiles on a poem by Banville, published by Société artistique d’édition d’estampes et de musique (E. Bulla). Counterpoint and fugue examinations: second honorable mention.

11 July
Composition examination: second honorable mention.

14 July
Death of his aunt, Clémentine Debussy.

8 September – end December
Debussy’s third stay with Madame von Meck, at Plechtchevo, some fifty kilometers from Moscow, and from 3 October in Vienna. He composes En Sourdine (1st version) and Mandoline on poems by Verlaine.

Prix de Rome

1883

January-March
Debussy makes a collection of thirteen of his songs for Marie Vasnier. He works on Diane au bois, a comic opera on a poem by Théodore de Banville.

March
Debussy takes over from Paul Vidal as accompanist to the Amateur Choral Society La Concordia, whose honorary president is Charles Gounod.

5-11 May
Admitted for the Prix de Rome competition. He is ranked fourth with Invocation, for male voice choir and orchestra on a text by Alphonse de Lamartine.

19 May -13 June
Admitted for the final competition for the Prix de Rome. Debussy wins second prize with Le Gladiateur, a cantata to words by Émile Moreau.

The first prize goes to Paul Vidal.

September – November
Debussy discovers Paul Bourget‘s collection Les Aveux from which he extracts Romance, Musique, and Paysage sentimental.

1884

10 January
A concert was given with La Concordia, to be followed by three further concerts on 1 March, 8 April, and 21 May.

10-16 May
Admitted for the preliminary competition for the Prix de Rome. He is ranked fourth with Le Printemps, for mixed choir and orchestra to words by Jules Barbier.

24 May – 18 June
Admitted for the final competition for the Prix de Rome: Debussy receives first prize with L’Enfant prodigue, a lyrical piece for the stage on a libretto by Édouard Guinand, sung by Rose Caron, Ernest Van Dyck, and Alexandre Taskin.

1885

28 January
Debussy goes to Rome to study at the Villa Médicis, in the company of Paul Vidal, Gabriel Pierné, and Georges Marty, under the supervision of Louis Cabat. The first few months in Rome are unhappy. Debussy makes no effort to adapt to his new life.

27 April – beginning May
Short stay in Paris where he returns to the Vasnier family.

8 June
Ernest Hébert is appointed director of the Villa Médicis, accompanied by his wife Gabrielle. Debussy now enters the social whirl, playing his songs for the Hébert soirées. He makes friends with Gustave Popelin, a painter also studying at Villa Médicis, and works on Zuleima, a symphonic ode after Henri Heine, his first musical work sent back to Paris from Rome.

8 July
Debussy is granted leave of absence from Villa Médicis, at his request, for around two months. He stays in Dieppe with Marie Vasnier, without her husband knowing.

2 September
Return to Rome, torn by passion and jealousy. He spends a few days at the property of Count Primoli at Fiumicino.
Marcel Baschet, a painter, also on a scholarship at the Villa Médicis, paints a pastel portrait of Debussy.

November
Debussy hears two masses by Palestrina and Orlando de Lassus at Santa Maria dell’Anima Church. “The only church music I will accept”

End of year
Works on Diane au bois and on the composition of two new songs on poems by Paul Bourget, Romance et Les Cloches.

1886

7 January
Debussy hears Aïda at the Apollo Theatre.

8 January
Franz Liszt is a guest at the Villa Médicis. Debussy and Paul Vidal play the Faust-Symphonie for two pianos.

13 January
Liszt at Villa Médicis plays his transcription of Schubert’s Ave Maria and Au bord d’une source.
Debussy composes “Green” a song based on a poem from Verlaine’s Ariettes(later Ariettes oubliées).

February
Arrival as a scholar at Villa Médicis, of Xavier Leroux. For a year, he Vidal and Debussy form an “inseparable trio”.

July – August
Leave of absence in Paris.

October
Debussy is likely to have stayed in Paris.

1887

February
He completes Printemps, a symphonic suite, his second work submitted to Paris from Rome, severely judged by the Institut.

2 March
Debussy leaves Rome for good, and goes back to his parents in Paris, returning to the company of his brother Alfred, who has an interest in literature and has published a translation in the Revue indépendante of a poem by D. G. Rossetti, Le Bourdon et la besace.

13 March
Debussy hears the first act of Wagner’s Tristan et Isolde at the Concerts Lamoureux: “Decidedly the finest thing I know!”
He makes friends with Paul Dukas, Michel Peter, and Ernest Chausson.

December
Debussy composes La Mort des amants, the last piece in the Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire.
Bohemian Period

1888

8 January
Debussy becomes a member of the Société Nationale de Musique.
The Debussy family moves to 27, Rue de Berlin.

January
Debussy composes Le Balcon, the first song in the Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire and offers the manuscript to his friend, Paul Poujaud.
First edition of Ariettes oubliées published in six separate parts, by the widow of Étienne Girod, in boulevard Montmartre.

August
First trip to Bayreuth, thanks to Étienne Dupin, financier and music lover. Here Debussy hears Parsifal and Die Meistersinger…

End of year
Debussy completes his third composition from Rome, La Damoiselle élue, on a poem by D. G. Rossetti, for women’s voices, solo, choir and orchestra.

1889

2 February
The first performance of two of the six Ariettes oubliées sung at the Société nationale de musique by Maurice Bagès and accompanied by the composer.

1 March
The first performance of the Petite Suite for piano duet, played by Debussy and Jacques Durand.

Strikes up a friendship with Robert Godet, whom he met thanks to Jules de Brayer and Maurice Bouchor.
Debussy is a frequent visitor to Paris cafés. At chez Pousset, he meets Villiers de l’Isle Adam and Catulle Mendès, at chez Thommen he enjoys the company of Maurice Rollinat and Gabriel Vicaire, and at café Vachette he converses with Jean Moréas.

April-May
Debussy stays with Michel and René Peter in Brittany, at Saint-Égonat close to Saint-Lunaire.

June-July
Universal exhibition: Debussy discovers the Javanese gamelan, and the Annamite theatre, staged by a company from Saigon. Also present were Raymond Bonheur, Paul Dukas, and Robert Godet.

22 and 29 June
Debussy hears Rimsky-Korsakov conducting his works at the Trocadéro.

August
The second trip to Bayreuth to hear Tristan und Isolde, in the company of Ernest Chausson, Paul Dukas, Etienne Dupin and Robert Godet.
Debussy begins the Fantaisie which was to be his fourth composition from Rome, but which he did not submit to the Institut.

December
Debussy takes Claude-Achille as his first name.

1890

February
Publication on a subscription basis, organized by Gaston Choisnel, of Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire. The work is sold at the Librairie de l’Art Indépendant, 11 Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, owned by Edmond Bailly. Private performance at Ernest Chausson’s attended by Paul Vidal, Catulle Mendès, Henri Gauthiers-Villars.

21 April
The first performance of Debussy’s Fantaisie pour piano et orchestre was to be given by René Chansarel in the solo part at the Société Nationale de musique, but Debussy withdraws the piece, because the conductor, Vincent d’Indy, wants to play the first movement only. The score was is sold to Choudens, who does not publish it. Publication, by Fromont, would not take place until 1920

Spring
Debussy begins the composition of Rodrigue et Chimène on a libretto by Catulle Mendès.
He meets Gabrielle Dupont, known as Gaby, daughter of a tailor at Lisieux.

Debussy composes several piano works: Rêverie, Tarentelle styrienne, Ballade slave, Valse romantique and begins Deux Arabesques and Suite bergamasque. A Scottish general commissions Marche écossaise.

Autumn
At the request of his friend Ferdinand Hérold, Debussy goes to Mallarmé’s Tuesdays, regularly attending until 1895. He also goes to the Chat noir cabaret, making friends with Erik Satie, who worked there as a piano accompanist from 1888.

October
Debussy moves into 76 boulevard Malesherbes for a few months, with his friend Étienne Dupin.

November
Publication of Mandoline by Durand.

1891

January to May
Debussy returns to 27, Rue de Berlin.

He begins the composition of Fêtes galantes (1st series), three songs on poems by Verlaine. He sells a number of works to the publisher Choudens.

Debussy makes the acquaintance of Camille Claudel, who offers him the sculpture La Valse, which he keeps in his study until his death.

June
Debussy leaves the family home and sets up at 42, Rue de Londres.
He requests permission from Maurice Maeterlinck to set La Princesse Maleine to music…

December
Debussy completes Trois Mélodies on poems by Paul Verlaine, which he sells to the publisher Hamelle.

1892

He composes De rêve and De grève, later included in Proses lyriques, and begins work on his string quartet and on Quatuor à cordes and Prélude, Interlude et Paraphrase finale sur l’après-midi d’un faune after Mallarmé.

March
Jules Bois asks him to write the musical score for the esoteric piece Les Noces de Satan, a commission Debussy turns down at the last moment.
At Mallarmé’s, he meets the poet Pierre Louÿs. They become close friends in October 1893.

May
Death of his teacher Ernest Guiraud.

June
Debussy adopts the shorter Claude as his first name. He signs Claude-Achille for the last time on 4 June 1892.

August
Nocturne pour piano for piano is published by Le Figaro musical.

Two acts of Rodrigue et Chimène are completed.

November
Erik Satie plays Uspud at L’Auberge du clou.

1893

February
Debussy receives financial assistance from Prince André Poniatowski (who had invited him to New York but to no avail).

Spring
He buys a copy of Pelléas et Mélisande at the Flammarion bookshop. On reading it he is inspired by “perhaps the secret thought of a possible music”.
Debussy listens to the works of Palestrina and Vittoria at the church of Saint-Gervais.

8 April
The first performance of La Damoiselle élue at the Société Nationale de musique, Salle Érard, by Julie Robert and Thérèse Roger, conducted by Gabriel Marie.

23 April
Debussy is elected member of the Committee of the Société Nationale de musique, at its general meeting.

6, 11 and 18 May
He plays a version of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre for two pianos with Raoul Pugno, at public lectures given by Catulle Mendès on the Tétralogie.at the Paris Opera.

12 May
Debussy attends the first performance in France of Die Walküre…

17 May
Attends the first and only night of Maeterlincks’s play, Pelléas et Mélisande directed by Lugné-Poe.

30 May-3 June and from 12 June on
Closer friendship with Ernest Chausson. Debussy goes twice to Luzancy, a property rented by Chausson on the banks of the Marne, with Raymond Bonheur and the painter Henri Lerolle. Bonheur wrote later: “For hours, for whole evenings, Debussy, indefatigable at the piano, initiated us to this extraordinary work [Moussorgsky’s Boris Godunov]”

July
Publication by Bailly of La Damoiselle élue.
Debussy moves in with Gaby at 10, Rue Gustave Doré.

10 August
A day spent with Paul Dukas, at Saint-Cloud.

September – October
Debussy composes De soirs, fourth piece in Proses lyriques having written the original poem in July.
First drafts of Pelléas et Mélisande, after receiving permission from Maeterlinck to set his play to music, thanks to Henri de Régnier’s intermediation.

6-12 November
Travels to Belgium, visits Maeterlinck in Ghent, accompanied by Pierre Louÿs, whose company Debussy had kept regularly for the past few weeks.

29 December
The first performance of the Quatuor à cordes by the Ysaÿe string quartet at the Société Nationale de musique.

From L’aprés-midi d’un faune to Pelléas

1894

10 January
Debussy joins the Société des auteurs (SACEM), on the recommendation of André Messager and publisher Georges Hartmann, who published under the name Eugène Fromont, and who was later to play a providential role in Debussy’s life.

February
Debussy attends the salon of Marguerite de Saint Marceaux (100, boulevard Malesherbes).

February, mid-March
Madame Escudier, Ernest Chausson’s mother-in-law, organizes a series of ten musical events on Wagner, in her apartment, musically illustrated by Debussy at the piano. Debussy plays in only five of the series, giving the first and last act of Parsifal, the second act of Gotterdämerung, and the last act of Tristan.

mid-February
Debussy completes the first act of Pelléas et Mélisande.

17 February
The first performance of two Proses lyriques, De fleurs and De soirs at the Société nationale de musique, by Thérèse Roger and the composer.

Debussy announces his betrothal to the singer Thérèse Roger.

1 March
Debussy Festival in Brussels, at La Libre Esthétique. In the programme, Quatuor à cordes, La Damoiselle élue and two Proses lyriques, performed by Thérèse Roger with Debussy at the piano. Later Debussy wrote that she “sang like a little fairy.”

Mid-March
Anonymous letters denounce Debussy’s liaison with Gaby Dupont and his debts. Engagement with Thérèse Roger broken off. Relations with Ernest Chausson also severed.

Summer
Debussy works on the third act of Pelléas et Mélisande and begins the composition of the Nocturnes, three pieces for violin and orchestra, intended for Eugène Ysaÿe.

Autumn
Friendship with Ernest Le Grand, a pupil in Massenet’s class. Every Sunday, Le Grand comes to play piano duets. They frequent Émile Baudoux’s, the music publisher, on Boulevard Haussmann, where they meet Florent Schmitt and Charles Koechlin.

Winter
Composition of Images [oubliées] for piano, dedicated to Yvonne Lerolle. The second of the three pieces for piano, Sarabande, was to become the second in the suite Pour le piano.

22 December
The first performance of Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune at the Société nationale de musique, Salle d’Harcourt, under conductor Gustave Doret. The work was performed twice.

1895

Spring
A close friendship develops with Pierre Louÿs. A number of projects take shape, Cendrelune (libretto worked out in May), Œdipe à Colone and Aphrodite. Meanwhile, Debussy continues to work on Pelléas.

August
The opera Pelléas et Mélisande is completed. Debussy sends a draft of the orchestral score to Henry Lerolle. Proses lyriques published by Fromont.

September
Debussy works on the libretto of La grande Bretêche by Balzac but abandons the project.

Publisher Georges Hartmann grants Debussy a monthly income of 500 francs.

13 and 20 October
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune played at Concerts Colonne, conductor Édouard Colonne.

1896

January
New project with Pierre Louÿs, Daphnis et Chloé, finally abandoned.

February
Publication of Sarabande (the future second piece in Pour le piano).

To improve his finances, Debussy returns to the weekly Wagner musical events, held at the salon of Madame Godard-Decrais, in Rue d’Aguessau.

May
La Saulaie, a new project with Pierre Louÿs.

October
Debussy intends to complete La Saulaie in December but fails to do so.

November
He halts the composition of the three Nocturnes for violin and orchestra, intended for Eugène Ysaÿe, and breaks off friendly relations.

1897

2 February
Debussy attends the banquet honoring Mallarmé to celebrate the publication of Divagations. Here he makes the acquaintance of the poet José-Maria de Hérédia.

February
Gaby attempts suicide.

20 February
The first performance of Debussy’s previous year’s orchestration of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies 1 and 3, at Salle Érard, with the Société Nationale de Musique, conductor Gustave Doret.

June
Begins composing Trois Chansons de Bilitis, including La Flûte de Pan and La Chevelure, on poems by Pierre Louÿs.

April
Debussy speaks of suicide in a letter to Pierre Louÿs.

December
Begins to compose the Nocturnes for orchestra.

1898

April
Composition of two of the Trois Chansons de Charles d’Orléans written for the Lucien Fontaine family choir: Dieu ! qu’il a fait bon regarder and Yver, vous n’estes qu’un vilain.

Spring
Mademoiselle Worms de Romilly becomes his pupil.
Debussy and René Peter begin work on a dramatic satire entitled Frères en art or F.E.A., of which three tableaux remain.

May
First contacts with André Messager and Albert Carré, director of the Opéra-Comique, about Pelléas et Mélisande.

May-September
Composition of Nuits blanches, two settings of his own texts, which Debussy was soon to consider as the second part of Proses lyriques.

End of year
Breaks off with Gaby Dupont.

1899

January
Debussy moves into 58, Rue Cardinet.

April
Begins a relationship with Marie-Rosalie Texier, known as Lilly.

15 May
Pierre Louÿs marries Louise de Hérédia.

2 June
Dispatch to Georges Hartmann of the corrected proofs of the Chansons de Bilitis.

10 June
Death of Ernest Chausson.

19 October
Debussy and Lilly Texier marry, the ceremony being witnessed by Pierre Louÿs, Erik Satie, and Lucien Fontaine.

Debussy completes the Nocturnes.

1900

February
Publication of the Nocturnes by Fromont.

March
Debussy works on copying Pelléas et Mélisande for the Opéra-Comique and finalizes the score for voice and piano.

10 March
The first performance of Tarentelle styrienne (1890), by Lucien Wurmser at Société nationale de musique.

17 mars
The first performance of Chansons de Bilitis, by Blanche Marot and Debussy at Société nationale de musique.

23 April
Death of publisher Georges Hartmann.

22 June
Hayot Quartet plays the Quatuor à cordes at the second official session at the Universal Exhibition.

14-23 August
Lilly Debussy goes to hospital.

23 August
La Damoiselle élue is played at the seventh concert at the Universal Exhibition, under conductor Paul Taffanel with Blanche Marot singing the part of the Damoiselle and Laure Beauvais as the Narrator.

Debussy joins the group self-styled the Apaches, whose members include Maurice Ravel, Ricardo Viñes, Lucien Garban, among others.

9 December
First performances of the first two Nocturnes at Concerts Lamoureux, conductor Camille Chevillard.

1901

7 February
The first performance of the incidental music for Chansons de Bilitis, written by Pierre Louÿs.

Spring
Strikes up a friendship with the writer Paul-Jean Toulet.

April
Debussy entrusts the two piano transcription of the Nocturnes to Maurice Ravel, Lucien Garban, and Raoul Bardac.
Debussy becomes a music critic for the Revue Blanche (giving up in December in the same year). He completes a suite of three pieces entitled Pour le piano and composes Lindaraja for two pianos.

Spring
The president of the Orchestral Club of Boston, Elisa Hall, commissions Rapsodie pour saxophone, on which Debussy works, mainly in 1903.

3 May
Debussy receives a written undertaking from Albert Carré to put on Pelléas et Mélisande at the Opéra-Comique.

30 May
Maeterlinck presses Debussy to give the role of Mélisande to Georgette Leblanc, Maeterlinck’s mistress.

1 July
Debussy invents the character of Monsieur Croche.

August
First stay at Bichain in the Yonne, with Lily Texier’s parents.

27 October
First full performance of the Nocturnes at Concerts Lamoureux, conductor Camille Chevillard.

30 November
Ricardo Viñes plays the suite Pour le piano at Debussy’s home, the start of a collaboration that was to last a further ten years.

End of year
Debussy begins work on the orchestration of Pelléas et Mélisande.

1902

11 January
First performance of Pour le piano (Prélude, Sarabande et Toccata) by Ricardo Viñes at the Société nationale de musique, Salle Érard.

13 January
Start of rehearsals of Pelléas et Mélisande at the Opéra-Comique. For three months, Debussy attends virtually every day.

February
A public conflict between Debussy and Maeterlinck over the choice of Mary Garden for the role of Mélisande.

13 April
Maeterlinck publishes a letter in Le Figaro wishing upon Pelléas et Mélisande “an immediate and resounding flop”.

30 April
The first performance of Pelléas et Mélisande with Mary Garden, Jean Périer and Hector Dufrane, conductor André Messager. The score for voice and piano is published in early May, the orchestral score in 1904.

17 May
First performance in Paris of Wagner’s Gotterdämerung, conducted by Alfred Cortot at the Théâtre du Château d’Eau.

June
Debussy begins to work on the Devil in the belfry (Le Diable dans le beffroi), a story by Edgar Allan Poe.

12-20 July
The first trip to London, on the invitation of André Messager. He attends a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with Mary Garden.

24 July -15 September
Second stay in Bichain.

30 October
Second series of ten performances at the Opéra-Comique of Pelléas et Mélisande, last night 6 January 1903.

December
Debussy makes the acquaintance of Louis Laloy, who has just published an article on Pelléas et Mélisande in La Revue musicale. He feels the need to return to musical criticism.

The Consecration

1903

January
Debussy in promoted Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur thanks to Louis Laloy, who approached Jules Combarieu, director of La Revue musicale and first secretary to the Minister of Public Instruction.

February
Debussy works as a critic for Gil Blas, publishing twenty-five weekly articles until June 1903.

23 February
Lettre ouverte à Monsieur le chevalier C. W. Gluck (Open letter to the honorable Chevalier C. W. Gluck), an article by Debussy delivering a new ideal of the national tradition.

21 April
Debussy concert was given at the Schola cantorum.

23 April – 3 May
Second trip to London for Gil Blas to render an account of Wagner’s Tetralogy, conducted by Hans Richter at Covent Garden.

May – July
Debussy reworks Rapsodie pour saxophone and Suite bergamasque for piano. He begins composing Isle joyeuse.

End June
Gives up Gil Blas and musical criticism, after publishing a last article entitled Bilan musical en 1903 (La Revue musicale of 1903).

8 July
Signs contract with Durand for the publication of Images 1stserie (Reflets dans l’eau , Hommage à Rameau, Mouvement) and 2nd série (Cloches à travers les feuilles, Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut and Poissons d’or), including three pieces for two pianos or orchestra, which in 1908 were to become Images pour orchestre.

10 July – 1 October
Third stay at Bichain. Debussy begins La Mer, completes Estampes for piano (Pagodes, La Soirée dans Grenade, Jardins sous la pluie) and corrects the orchestral score of Pelléas et Mélisande.

Autumn
Debussy is estranged from Pierre Louÿs and strikes his name from the dedication of the second piece of Estampes.

October
Debussy offers Emma Bardac a dedicated copy of Estampes for piano.

14 October
Signs a publishing contract with Durand for Diable dans le beffroi, musical narrative in 2 acts and 3 tableaux which he thinks he will finish in May 1905.

30 October
Twelve further performances of Pelléas et Mélisande at Opéra-Comique.

15 November
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un Faune is on the bill of two Paris symphonic associations, Camille Chevillard conducting at Concerts Lamoureux and Gabriel Pierné at Concerts Colonne.

26 November
Debussy accepts a proposal from music publisher Énoch to complete Briséïsby Emmanuel Chabrier (on a libretto by Catulle Mendès). The project was not completed.

1904

Beginning of year
Debussy composes D’un cahier d’esquisses.
Debussy co-opted to the jury of the Concours de la Ville de Paris (Paris musical competition).

9 January
The first performance of Estampes by Ricardo Viñes at the Société nationale de musique.

16 January
Debussy Concert in the apartments of Princess Cystria. On the programme, the Quatuor played by the Zeitlin Quartet, La Mer and Le son du cor s’afflige, first performance of songs sung by Marthe Legrand, accompanied by Debussy, two Proses lyriques and Mandoline by Maurice Bagès accompanied by Debussy, and les Estampes by Blanche Selva.

22 January
Jean Lorrain, a columnist specializing in gossip about the smart and wealthy, publishes an article strongly in favor of the composer, entitled Les Pelléastres, in Le Journal, setting the worldly seal of approval on Debussy’s work.

4 February
Further performances of La Damoiselle élue at Opéra-Comique with Mary Garden, conductor André Messager.

February
Debussy records three of the Ariettes oubliées and the locks of hair scene from Pelléas et Mélisande with Mary Garden for the Compagnie française du Gramophone.
Paris Illustré publishes D’un cahier d’esquisses, subsequently purchased by Schott brothers in Brussels.

April-May
Debussy composes Deux danses for harp and orchestra, Danse sacrée andDanse profane, commissioned by the Pleyel piano-making company for the Brussels Conservatoire competition, published almost concurrently with Trois Chansons de France on poems by Charles d’Orléans and Tristan L’Hermite.

May
Concert of Debussy’s works performed by Émile Engel and Jane Bathori, who were later to become faithful defenders of the composer’s music.

June
Debussy takes a new and momentous step in his personal life, the dedication of Fêtes galantes (2nt serie) to Emma Bardac as testimony to their love. Debussy takes his pet name for her, Petite Mienne (Little Mine), from the poet Jules Laforgue.

15 July
Debussy convinces Lilly to go to Bichain.

Beginning August-mid October
Debussy stays with Emma at the Grand Hôtel de Jersey, incognito. Then the couple goes to Pourville in Normandy. Debussy corrects the proofs of Masques and Fêtes galantes and reworks Isle joyeuse.

October
Debussy moves into 10, avenue Alphand.

13 October
Lilly Debussy attempts suicide by shooting herself in the stomach with a revolver.

4 November
The newspapers publicly disclose Lilly’s attempted suicide, and many friends draw away from Debussy.

6 November
The first performance of Deux Danses at Concerts Colonne, conductor d’Édouard Colonne, Madame Wurmser–Delcourt at the harp.

1905

January
The opening of negotiations with a view to Lilly’s divorce, a “sort of a nightmare” lasting until August.

10 February
The first performance of Masques and L’Isle joyeuse by Ricardo Viñes, Salle Aeolian. Viñes plays the pieces again a week later at Salle Pleyel at a concert of the Société nationale de musique.

5 March
5 March is the date inscribed on the reduced score of La Mer and on the full orchestral score, marking the completion of the work, to be published in July and made available commercially in November, under its brightly colored cover design after Hokusai.

31 March
Signing by Debussy and Maeterlinck of the contract of sale of Pelléas et Mélisande to Durand.

5 April
New performance of Pelléas et Mélisande at Opéra-Comique, conductor Alexandre Luigini, for a run of six nights.

4 May
Emma and Sigismond Bardac divorce, Emma being a few weeks pregnant.

Louis Laloy and Jean Marnold try to get Debussy to write in Le Mercure musical, the journal they have just founded.

June
Publication of Suite bergamasque for piano, the last original work by Debussy published by Fromont.

17 July
Debussy signs an exclusive contract with music publisher Jacques Durand. That same day, Debussy is placed under an injunction by the courts to pay Lilly a monthly income of 400 francs. This is paid by Durand, to whom Debussy has assigned copyright.

End July – 30 August
Stays in Eastbourne with Emma. He buys a Blüthner grand piano. Before returning to Paris they spend a few days in London.

2 August
The Civil Court of la Seine pronounces the divorce of Debussy and Lily Texier. In 1905 and 1906, Debussy’s only friends are Louis Laloy and Jacques Durand. A new page is turned in his life.

7 August
Correction of the first proofs of La Mer.

October
Debussy and Emma set up at 64, avenue du Bois de Boulogne, Paris (note that in January 1908, the street number changed to 80, avenue du Bois de Boulogne).

15 Octobre
The first performance of La Mer at Concerts Lamoureux, conductor Camille Chevillard.

22 Octobre
Further performance of La Mer by the same orchestra and conductor.

30 October
Birth of Claude-Emma Debussy, known as Chouchou.

6 December
The first performance of the third of the Trois mélodies de Verlaine by Madame Camille Fourrier.

14 décembre
The first performance of Hommage à Rameau by Maurice Dumesnil.

1906

January
Debussy strikes up a friendship with a young Portuguese musician Francisco de Lacerda and entrusts him with the score of Fêtes de Polymnie by Rameau, which Durand asked Debussy to make ready for publication in the musician’s Complete Works.

6 February
Talk by Louis Laloy on “The work of C. Debussy” at the Salle des Agriculteurs. Ricardo Viñes plays Images (1ère serie) in public for the first time.

8 March
Composition of Sérénade à la poupée, to become the third piece in Children’s corner.

25 March
Lunch at Durand’s with Richard Strauss, who wished to make Debussy’s acquaintance.

April
Victor Segalen, a young writer, meets Debussy and talks to him about the music he heard in Polynesia, on his return to France from a two-year stay.

May
Strikes up again with Paul-Jean Toulet, in a closer friendship than before.

June and July
Debussy reverts to work on Ibéria and Diable dans le beffroi.

8 August – 1 September
Stays in the country close to Dieppe, at the Grand Hôtel du Puys.

1 November
A new run of Pelléas et Mélisande at the Opéra-Comique, conductor Franz Ruhlmann, for seventeen nights.

December
At the instigation of Georges Jean-Aubry, Debussy is elected an honorary member of the Cercle de l’art moderne of Le Havre.

1907

January
Debussy attends rehearsals of Pelléas et Mélisande at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels.

Orchestration of the song Jet d’eau, the third of Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire.

Relations between Debussy and Ravel are clouded by a number of incidents.

juillet
Gabriel Mourey proposes a project for Debussy, based on Bédier’s Roman de Tristan.

August-mid-September
Holidays at Pourville, at the Grand Hôtel. Debussy works on Rondes de printemps, the third of Images pour orchestre.

October
First visit of André Caplet to organize a concert at Le Havre, the beginning of a collaboration which was to take on great importance in Debussy’s life

Victor Segalen dedicates his article Voix mortes: musique Maori to Debussy, published in Mercure musical.

4 November
The first performance of the Petite suite in an orchestration by Henri Busser, conductor Camille Chevillard.

November
Debussy plays Images (2nd serie) for piano to Louis Laloy and Ricardo Viñes (Cloches à travers les feuilles, Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut and Poissons d’or). Further work to finalize a libretto based on Tristan.

1908

12 January
For the first time, Debussy conducts one of his own works, La Mer, at Concerts Colonne, with great success.

20 January
Debussy and Emma Bardac marry at the Town Hall of the 16tharrondissement of Paris.

26 January
Debussy conducts La Mer again at aux Concerts Colonne.

1 February
Debussy conducts Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and La Mer at the Queen’s Hall in London.>.

21 February
The first performance of Images (2nd serie) by Ricardo Viñes.

6 March
La Mer in a transcription by André Caplet for two pianos and six hands is given a concert performance by Marcel Chadeigne, Auguste Delacroix, and Roger-Ducasse.

March
Publication by John Lane in London of Claude-Achille Debussy by Louise Liebich, the first biography of the composer.

May
Debussy attends one of the last rehearsals and the dress rehearsal of Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie.

21 May
Debussy in the company of André Caplet attends the second performance of Boris Godunov at the Paris Opéra.

12 June
Pelléas et Mélisande returns to the boards of the Opéra-Comique, with Maggie Tate in the role of Mélisande, conducted by Franz Ruhlmann, for a nineteen-night run.

Summer
The Debussy family finances do not allow them, as in previous years, to spend a month on the Channel Coast.
Debussy completes the composition of Children’s corner and Chansons de Charles d’Orléans. He works on the libretto of Orphée by Victor Segalen and on a new story by Edgar Allan Poe, The fall of the house of Usher.

2 October
Debussy makes the acquaintance of an American violinist of Hungarian origin, Arthur Hartmann, who transcribed the second Ariettes oubliées (Il pleure dans mon cœur) for violin and piano.

October
Durand publishes Trois Chansons de Charles d’Orléans.

November
Edgar Varèse visits Debussy.

23 December
The first performance of Children’s corner by Harold Bauer.

25 December
Completes composition of Ibéria.

30 December
Completes composition of Rondes de printemps.

1909

4 January
Begins composing Gigues.

February
On Gabriel Fauré’s suggestion, Debussy becomes a member of the Conseil supérieur of the Conservatoire.

27 February
Debussy conducts Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Nocturnes at the Queen’s Hall in London.

Spring
Debussy has been suffering for some months from “virtually daily bleeding”, the first symptoms of the cancer from which he was to die nine years later.

11 March
The first performance of Trois Chansons de Charles d’Orléans by eight singers from the Engel-Bathori choir.

9 April
Debussy conducts La Damoiselle élue and Trois Chansons de Charles d’Orléans at Concerts Colonne.

May
Fifth stay in London for a production of Pelléas et Mélisande at Covent Garden.
He composes The little Nigar and Hommage à Haydn.

June
Nadar takes photographs of Debussy in formal poses.

11 June
Debussy attends a performance of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at Théâtre du Châtelet, Ivan the Terrible with Chaliapine and Le Festin, Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina being among the dancers.

July
Meeting with Durand to finalize a ballet project with Diaghilev. In a few days, Debussy composes the outline to which the title is given Masques et bergamasques

Summer
Instead of going to a seaside resort on the English Channel as in previous summers, Debussy stays in Paris with his family and close friends.
He works on The fall of the house of Usher after Edgar Poe and corrects the proofs of Rondes de printemps.

September
Publication of Debussy’s first French biography, Claude Debussy by Louis Laloy.
Correction of the proofs of Rondes de printemps (third of Images for orchestra) with André Caplet.

Autumn
The painter Henry de Groux paints two pastel portraits and makes a bust of Debussy.

December
Debussy composes Rapsodie for clarinet for the Conservatoire competition, and the first book of Préludes for piano, each precisely dated, from 7 December 1909 – 5 January 1910.

From Préludes to Jeux
1910

20 February
The first performance of Ibéria at Concerts Colonne, conductor Gabriel Pierné. Publication of Hommage à Haydn.

2 March
The first performance of Rondes de printemps in the Concerts Durand, at the Salle Gaveau, conducted by the composer.

17 April
Debussy attends the first French performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony, conducted by the composer at Trocadéro. Gustave Mahler had that same February conducted the Nocturnes in New York, and in March, the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.

20 April
The first concert of the new Société musicale indépendante, where Maurice Ravel gives the first performance of D’un cahier d’esquisses.

May
Composition of Trois Ballades de François Villon. Abortive plans to tour the United States.
Arthur Hartmann makes a violin and piano transcription of the eighth Prélude, La Fille aux cheveux de lin.

25 May
Debussy plays four of his Préludes for piano at the Société musicale indépendante.

25 June
The first performance of L’oiseau de feu by Igor Stravinsky at the Ballets Russes. The two composers meet for the first time.

July
Debussy composes a new piece for the Conservatoire clarinet competition, Petite pièce. He writes La plus que lente, a piece for the violinist Leoni, a waltz originally composed for piano, also published by Durand in a piano-violin transcription.
Debussy stops paying alimony to Lilly Texier.

Summer
Marital difficulties beset him with Emma, and family life weighs down on Debussy.

Beginning September
Signs contract for a ballet commissioned by Maud Allan, Isis, which was in December to become Khamma.

28 October
Debussy’s father, Manuel-Achille, dies aged 74.

29 November- 7 December
An eight-day trip to Vienna and Budapest, where the composer conducts his own works. Debussy hears Carmen at Vienna. At hotel Kranz he receives a letter from Gabriele D’Annunzio, suggesting collaboration.

9 December
Back in Paris, Debussy almost immediately signs a contract to write the music for a four-act drama by Gabriele D’Annunzio, Saint Sébastien, subsequently to be published as Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, a mystery in five acts and five mansions, with Ida Rubinstein in the title role.

1911

3 January
Gustave Mahler conducts Ibéria in New York.

11 January
Debussy receives the first fragment of the libretto of Martyre de Saint Sébastien.

14 January
Jane Bathori and Ricardo Viñes give the first performance of Promenoir des deux amants.

25 January
Dolly Bardac, Emma’s daughter, weds Gaston de Tinan.

5 March
Debussy conducts the orchestral version of Trois Ballades de François Villon at the Concerts Séchiari, with the baritone Charles W. Clark.

25 March
At the Cercle Musical Charles Domergue, Debussy gives a further performance of Trois Ballades de François Villon, with the baritone Jean Périer. Also on the programme are his orchestration of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies 1 and 3, and Children’s corner in André Caplet’s orchestration.

April
Beginning of rehearsals at the Châtelet theatre of Martyre de Saint Sébastien, under conductor André Caplet.

3 May
Complete performance of Les Préludes (first book) at Salle Pleyel, by Jane Mortier.

16 May
The archbishop of Paris places an interdict on Gabriele D’Annunzio’s theatre piece.

22 May
The first night of Martyre de Saint Sébastien at Théâtre du Châtelet, conductor André Caplet.

June
Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie and Debussy photograph one another at Debussy’s.

19 June
Departure for Turin with Chouchou and Emma, where Debussy conducts his works.

Summer
Restful holiday at Houlgate.

October
Abortive plan to travel to Boston for a performance of Pelléas et Mélisande, conducted by André Caplet.

1912

January
Piano reduction of Khamma completed.

12 February
The first performance of a concert version of Martyre de Saint Sébastien at New York, conductor Kurt Schindler.

26 February
The young Italian composer Alfredo Casella visits Debussy.

March
The writer Charles Morice suggests that Debussy compose a lyric work based on his Poème chanté et dansé d’après Verlaine, under the title Crimen amoris.

31 March
Henri Busser completes the orchestration of Printemps, the symphonic suite that was Debussy’s second piece submitted to Paris at the time of his scholarship in Rome.

May
Polemic begins with the dancer Maud Allan over Khamma. The piano reduction, although published in September, was not put on the shelves until 1916.

29 May
Choreographed version of Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by the Ballets Russes. Debussy was profoundly critical of Nijinsky’s choreography.

2 June
Igor Stravinsky and Debussy sight-read the piano reduction of Sacre du printemps at Louis Laloy’s, Debussy taking the bass.

14 and 17 June
Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien given in concert version by Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht at the Société musicale indépendante.

18 June
Debussy and Diaghilev sign the contract for the ballet music Jeux, Debussy getting down to work in August.

October
Debussy faces extreme financial pressure and begs a loan from Durand and Louis Laloy.

November
He returns to musical criticism with the S.I.M. review. Émile Vuillermoz, the new editor-in-chief, gives a column to Debussy as the music critic of the Concerts Colonne and to Vincent d’Indy for the Concerts Lamoureux.

1913

25 January
Hundredth performance of Pelléas et Mélisande at the Opéra-Comique, conducted by Franz Ruhlmann, with Marguerite Carré in the title role.

26 January
The first performance of the three Images pour orchestre at Concerts Colonne, conducted by the composer.

28 January
Dinner at Café Riche to mark the hundredth performance of Pelléas et Mélisande.

Charles Koechlin commissioned to do the orchestration of Khamma.

5 March
Debussy plays the first three Préludes of the second book at Salle Érard.

2 April
Inauguration of Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, where Debussy conducts Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.

19 April
Publication of the second book of Préludes for piano.

5 May
Performance at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées of the Nocturnes to a choreography by Loie Fuller on a set designed by Fernand Ochsé, conducted by Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht.

15 May
The first performance of Jeux at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, conducted by Pierre Monteux.

12 June
First complete performance of Préludes (second book) in London by Walter Rummel.

19 June
Debussy Gala organized by Émile Vuillermoz at the Comédie des Champs-Élysées.

Summer
Debussy composes Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé. He begins composing La Boîte à joujoux, a ballet for children on a libretto by André Hellé.
Debussy’s financial problems worsen. Emma Debussy falls ill and he contemplates suicide.

1 December
The first performance of Syrinx, the publisher’s title for the solo flute piece that Debussy composed for Gabriel Mourey’s Psyché.

1-16 December
Trip to Moscow and Saint-Petersburg for a concert tour.

1914

January
Debussy works on a new project, Le Palais du silence, which would become No-ja-li but was never completed.

27 January
New contract signed for the work planned with Charles Morice after Verlaine, the title Crimen amoris being replaced by Fête galante.

February
Debussy writes a last article for the S.I.M. review, published on 1 March, and corrects the proofs of Monsieur Croche antidilettante.

18-24 February
Travels to Rome, where he conducts La Mer, Rondes de printemps, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Marche écossaise at the Augusteo.

26 February – 2 March>
Travels to Amsterdam, where he conducts the Nocturnes (I et II), Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Marche écossaise at the Concertgebouw.

31 March
Debussy Festival at the Philharmonic Society. Debussy accompanies Ninon Vallin for the first performance of Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé.

April
Concert in Holland. Debussy conducts the Nocturnes, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, and Marche écossaise.

4 May
The first performance of the ballet Spring at Alhambra in London, based on the symphonic suite Printemps orchestrated by Henri Busser, on instructions from Debussy.

7 May
Performance at the Châtelet theatre of extracts from Children’s Corner(orchestration by André Caplet) to a choreography by Loie Fuller, Concerts Colonne orchestra conducted by Gabriel Pierné.

May
Debussy’s last interview, by Dimitri Calvocoressi for a monthly magazine in Philadelphia.

16 – 19 July
Last trip to London for a concert at the Queen’s Hall.

July
Debussy completes Six Épigraphes antiques, from the earlier incidental music composed for Chansons de Bilitis in 1901.

1 August
General mobilization. Debussy is in Paris.

4 September
As the Germans advance, Debussy and his family take refuge in Angers, where they spend a month in the Grand Hôtel.

October
Jacques Durand begins publishing the scores of the major classical composers in new editions, and Debussy agrees to supervise Chopin’s works.

November
Debussy composes the Berceuse héroïque “in homage to His Majesty King Albert the First of Belgium and his soldiers”.
War and Illness

1915

23 March
Debussy’s mother Victorine dies.

29 March
Emma Debussy’s mother Madame Moÿse dies.

June
Debussy agrees to supervise Bach’s works for Durand. He starts composing En blanc et noir.

12 July – 12 October
Stays in the country at Pourville with his family.
Debussy works on En blanc et noir. He announces to his publisher the composition of “Six sonatas for various instruments”, the first of which is despatched at the beginning of August, Sonate pour violoncelle et piano. He works on the Études for piano, composed between 23 July and 29 September.
On his return to Paris, Debussy brings Durand the manuscript for the Sonate en trio (for flute, viola and harp).

24 October
First performance of Berceuse héroïque, conducted by Camille Chevillard.

December
Composition of Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maison, whose popular success would irritate Debussy.

7 December
Debussy undergoes surgery in an attempt to cure the cancer of the rectum diagnosed by the doctors, but the condition cannot be eradicated and he suffers from the pain.

1916

22 January
First performance in the residence of the Princesse de Polignac of En blanc et noir by Walter Rummel and his wife, Thérèse Chaigneau, concert given in aid of the charity L’Aide affectueuse aux musicians.

15 July
Lilly Texier goes to court for payment of the alimony that Debussy has failed to honor for the last six years. He is ordered by the court to pay the 3,600 francs a year he had not paid since 1910. Money and health problems begin to overwhelm him.

11 September – 23 October
Stays at Moulleau, close to Arcachon where Debussy and his family take up residence in the Grand Hôtel. He complains about the number of pianos played by mediocre pianists.

Autumn
Debussy hands his publisher the definitive version of the libretto of La chute de la maison d’Usher.

10 December
First French performance of the Sonate pour flûte, alto et harpe at Durand’s, by Albert Manouvrier (flute), Darius Milhaud (viola) and Jeanne Dalliès (chromatic harp).

14 December
First performance by Walter Rummel of four of the Douze Études for the charity Aide affectueuse aux musicians.

21 December
Debussy plays En blanc et en noir with Roger-Ducasse for the charity Le Vêtement du prisonnier de guerre.

1917

April
Debussy completes the revision for Durand of the Six sonates pour violon et piano by J.S.Bach and his own Sonate pour violon et piano.

24 March
A concert devoted to Debussy, in aid of the charity Le Vêtement du blessé. He accompanies Claire Croiza in Trois Ballades de François Villon, Fêtes galantes (2nd series) and Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maison, and Jacques Salmon in the Sonate pour violoncelle et piano.

5 May
First performance by Debussy of the Sonate pour violon et piano with Gaston Poulet, at the Salle Gaveau in aid of the charity Foyer du soldat aveugle.

3 July – 14 October
Stays at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, at Chalet Habas.

11 et 14 September
Debussy gives his last two concerts at Biarritz.

1918

Debussy forced to take to his bed definitively.

19 March
Letter of application from Debussy to become a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, to take Charles-Marie Widor’s place.

25 March
Death of Debussy.

29 March
The funeral of Debussy, who is buried in a temporary resting-place at the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The following year, his body is transferred to the Cemetery of Passy (Paris 16e)

1919

16 July
Death from diphtheria of Debussy’s daughter, Chouchou, not yet 14.

Copyright © 2007 – Centre de documentation Claude Debussy

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Modern Music: Debussy (Documentary)

The World Will Change in His Sound; The Light of Claude Debussy (Documentary)