Debussy by Stephen Walsh
A Painter in Sound

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If Walsh can do small, he can also go large and he finishes his finely tooled biography by squaring up to that old question of whether Debussy represents the end of one musical epoch or the beginning of another.
-Guardian

Synopsis

A beautifully written and original biography of one of the greatest and most popular of modern composers--which also deeply investigates his much-loved music.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was that rare creature, a composer who reinvented the language of music without alienating the majority of music lovers. The creator of such classics as La Mer and Clair de Lune, of Pelléas et Mélisande and his magnificent, delicate piano works, he is the modernist everybody loves, the man who drove French music into entirely new regions of beauty and excitement at a time when old traditions--and the overbearing influence of Wagner--threatened to stifle it. As a central figure at the birth of modernism, Debussy's influence on French culture was profound. Yet at the same time his own life was complicated and often troubled by struggles over money, women, and ill-health. Walsh's engagingly original approach is to enrich a lively account of this life with brilliant analyses of Debussy's music: from his first daring breaks with the rules as a Conservatoire student to his mature achievements as the greatest French composer of his time. The Washington Post called Stephen Walsh's Stravinsky "one of the best books ever written about a composer." Debussy is a worthy successor.
 

About Stephen Walsh

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Stephen Walsh is a professor of music at Cardiff University and the author of a number of books on musical subjects. He was deputy music critic of The Observer for nearly twenty years. He now broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio 3 and writes reviews for a variety of publications. His two-volume Stravinsky is regarded as the standard biography of that composer. The first volume won the Royal Philharmonic Society prize in 2000, and the second was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by The Washington Post.

Author Residence: Herefordshire, UK
 
Published October 23, 2018 by Knopf. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Guardian

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Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on Mar 24 2018

If Walsh can do small, he can also go large and he finishes his finely tooled biography by squaring up to that old question of whether Debussy represents the end of one musical epoch or the beginning of another.

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