Claude Debussy, about 1908. Wikimedia The title is taken from a poem of the same name written by the Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine and published in 1869. Debussy has already arranged this poem for voice and piano twice, as well as 18 other Verlaine works. "au calme clair de lune triste et belle," the poem says (the still moonlight is sad and lovely).
Clair de lune is one of Debussy's most famous songs. It means "clear moonlight" and is used as an opening song or as a closing song because of its beautiful melody. The piece was inspired by several sources: the poetry of Paul Verlaine, who was a friend of his father; images from nature; and the music of Mozart and Beethoven.
Although born in France, Debussy grew up in Switzerland where his father was appointed as a judge. He learned to play the piano and compose music while attending school in Geneva. In 1889, he moved to Paris where he became friends with other young musicians such as Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky. They were all influenced by French composers like Giuseppe Sarti, Carl Maria von Weber, and Jules Massenet.
In 1897, Debussy started writing his own music. He published two books of poems before he decided to try his hand at composing. One of these poems, "Sémiramis", was used as the basis for one of his first pieces.
Clair de Lune's initial title was Promenade sentimentale (Sentimental Stroll), after a separate Verlaine poem from an 1866 collection called Paysages tristes (Sad Landscapes). This title was later changed by its publisher, Calmann-Lévy, to reflect its influence of Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin (The Beautiful Miller's Daughter).
Debussy may have been influenced by both poems when composing his own work. The Verlaine poem describes a young man who sees a beautiful girl walking along a riverbank and follows her until she disappears into a cave. In the final stanza, the poet imagines what would happen if he went inside the cave to find her.
Schubert's song is about a miller who goes to look for his lost daughter inside a cave but does not find her. When he comes out, she has vanished again. The father decides not to go looking for her another time because it is already late at night and she may be afraid to stay outside any longer.
These two eponymous pieces are often performed together as a pair. They have been cited as an influence on many composers including Mahler, Satie, and Berg.
Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy is a lovely piano tune that even had a cameo appearance in Twilight. When Claude Debussy was just 28 years old, he began creating the immensely beautiful piano composition Clair de Lune. It didn't come out for another 15 years! His inspiration for this piece came from a real-life romance he had when he was 19 years old. The girl's name was Marie d'Agoult and she was married to a man named Gustave d'Eynard. They met while Debussy was working as a music critic for the newspaper La Revue Musicale.
In addition to being one of the most popular piano pieces ever written, Clair de Lune has been used in many films, including but not limited to: Twilight, Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, The Emperor's New Groove, and Titanic.
There are several versions of the song, but none can compare to the original version composed by Claude Debussy. He first performed it on May 31, 1902 at the Paris Conservatoire where it received an enthusiastic response from his audience. After that, he continued to add notes to the piece until it finally reached its current form.
The main theme of the song is a simple melody played over a backbeat on the piano. However, there are other elements included in the composition which make it more than just a simple melody played on the piano.
Clair de Lune, Claude Debussy's best-loved piano work, has reached mainstream consciousness as a result of its regular performance. Debussy's work marked a transition from the Romantic music that dominated the nineteenth century to the music of the twentieth.
Clair de Lune was first performed on March 31, 1909, at the Society for Private Musical Performances in London. The premiere audience included several leading musicians and critics including Edward Elgar, Charles Hallé, and Albert Cooney who offered critical praise for the piece. Within a few years, it had become one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire.
The title of the work is French for "Moonlight". This alludes to a scene near the beginning of the piece where the moon shines through the window of a cottage where a woman is singing to her baby. The woman's voice is accompanied only by a single note played on the piano which creates a mysterious atmosphere.
The work consists of just two parts with no break between them. Part one begins quietly with just the pianist playing a series of short arpeggiated chords before the orchestra enters with a lively theme. This leads into a reprise of the introductory material before the whole orchestra joins in with the main theme.
Part two starts with another reprise of the introductory material before the main body of the work takes over.
Clair de lune is named after a poem by French author Paul Verlaine that paints the soul as a place full of melody "in a minor note" where birds are encouraged to sing by the "sad and beautiful" light of the moon. The eponymous song "Clair de lune" is used by French composer Claude Debussy as the opening theme music for his film Le bouquet de Catherine (1903).
Clair de lune means "moonlight" in French. The poem that inspired the name was written by Paul Verlaine when he was suffering from tuberculosis. Verlaine died only months later, at the age of 34, but his friend Alexandre Dumas allowed his body to be buried in the cemetery of Montmartre because there was no family to claim it.
Debussy used this song in its original version, which lasts about 10 minutes. However, since most audiences back then would have found this length too long, he also edited it down to about 3 minutes by removing some sections. These removed pieces can be heard if you listen carefully during the ending section of the song. They include a piano introduction and two other songs that were probably included by mistake: one is a jazz piece called "The Great Blower" by Scott Joplin and the other is "Waltz in A-flat major" by Johann Strauss II.