Pondering Debussy’s musical legacy and perfectionism

Posted on: April 12, 2018

“It may seem a paradox that one of the most influential composers of modern sung theater completed only one opera,” writes Rebecca Schmid in Thursday’s (4/12) New York Times. “ ‘Pelléas et Mélisande’ brought the French composer Claude Debussy instant fame in 1902, but the stage work achieved such a perfection of his artistic ideals that he never managed to repeat the success…. Debussy left behind a legacy that musicologists are, to some extent, still working to reconstruct.… The centennial of the composer’s death this year provides an occasion to revisit the less-known corners of his oeuvre…. In ‘Pelléas,’ there are no big arias, foreshadowing the operas of Bartók, Berg and other 20th-century composers…. The preparation of a critical edition for the opera’s orchestral score has yet to completed… Of the 37 volumes underway for the ‘Complete Works of Claude Debussy,’ published by Éditions Durand, 21 are currently available.… Debussy was committed to a creative process in which inspiration arose naturally.… He told The New York Times in a 1910 interview, … ‘I have done things which did not seem bad at the time…. Then I would find that they were only fit for the wastebasket.’ ”

Posted April 12, 2018