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Claude Debussy Biography

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Achille-Claude Debussy (IPA ) (August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918) was a French composer. He worked within the style commonly referred to as impressionist music, a term which he dismissed. Debussy was not only one of the most important French composers but was also one of the most important figures in music at the turn of the last century; his music represents the transition from late-romantic music to 20th century modernist music.

Claude Debussy died in Paris on March 25, 1918 from colorectal cancer, in the midst of the German aerial and artillery bombardment of Paris during the Spring Offensive of World War I. At this time the military situation in France was desperate, and circumstances did not permit his being paid the honour of a public funeral or ceremonious graveside orations. The funeral procession made its way through deserted streets as shells from the German guns ripped into his beloved city. It was just eight months before France would celebrate victory. He was interred in the Cimetière de Passy, and French culture has ever since celebrated Debussy as one of its most distinguished representatives.

The term "impressionist", widely applied to Debussy and the music he influenced, is a matter of intense debate within academic circles. It is widely held that the term is a misnomer, an inappropriate label which Debussy himself opposed. In a letter of 1908, he wrote "I am trying to do 'something different'-in a way realities-what the imbeciles call 'impressionism' is a term which is as poorly used as possible, particularly by art critics."

Rudolph Réti points out these features of Debussy's music, which "established a new concept of tonality in European music":

Debussy's music has been used countless times in film and television.
 
 
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