Felicity Barnes



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Felicity Barnes, MUS 303: Music History 2
Faculty Mentor: Professor Carolyn Guzski, Music

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) composed one of the most famous pieces in the solo clarinet repertoire, the Première Rhapsodie [First Rhapsody]. One of the two pieces he wrote for this instrument, the Rhapsodie was commissioned by the Paris Conservatoire for its annual clarinet exam. As a “Solo de Concours,” the music is intended to showcase the entirety of the clarinet’s technical and artistic capabilities. As a practicing clarinetist, I focus on the technical aspects of this piece, as it contains many difficulties for the advanced player. It is a test of endurance, range, and breath support that requires a professional level of performance technique. Through listening to and performing the piece while analyzing its musical score, I have gained a better understanding of why Debussy’s Première Rhapsodie is not only a technical challenge useful for pre-professional assessment. It remains popular due to its artistic excellence and has endured as a central work in the woodwind repertoire.

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Arts and Humanities

Claude Debussy: The Truth About the Première Rhapsodie
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