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Zachary Becker, MUS303: Music History 2
Faculty Mentor(s): Professor Carolyn Guzski, Music
In 1870, the French composer Claude Debussy's (1862-1918) skill as a pianist gained him a spot in the Paris Conservatoire at the age of ten. As a precocious keyboard talent, Debussy would quickly learn to use the piano as a useful tool for his compositional aspirations. Not only would he go on to write one of the most renowned collections of virtuoso piano pieces for piano, the two books of Preludes, but his unique compositional style with its ambiguous tonality and colorful textures would develop into a new genre of classical music known as Impressionism. Although Debussy chose to not identify with artistic impressionism, his compositions shaped what would make the genre recognizable. My project analyzes the first piece of Debussy's Préludes, known as “Danseuses de Delphes” (Dancers of Delphi), to reveal the stylistic attributes that influence what we recognize as musical impressionism today. As the Préludes were among his last major piano works completed before his death, all of Debussy's acquired knowledge and skill influenced the collection. Debussy composed one of the most expansive and creative contributions to the piano repertoire in the 20th century.
Becker, Zachary, "Piano Possibilities: Debussy's Préludes" (2021). Arts. 10.