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The Music of Claude Debussy

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When one thinks of impressionistic composers, it is only natural for Claude Debussy to be part of the subject. However, it is rare that impressionism and classical form are mentioned within the same breath. For that reason, it is necessary to remind oneself that the free-flowing music of the contemporary only exists by standing on the shoulders of the rigidly methodical music that came before it. Claude Debussy’s First Violin Sonata exemplifies this beautifully. Though the harmonic language is that of parallelisms and unstable key centers, motivically, the piece is balanced around the same Sonata Principal that governed Debussy’s forefathers, going back to Beethoven and Haydn.
Claude Debussy’s First Violin Sonata was completed in 1917, in the year before Debussy’s passing. These three fiery movements represent some of the more aggressive music that Debussy has written, rather than the more mellow Preludes he is commonly known for. The harmonic vocabulary of Debussy would quickly make one realize that instead of gleaming the Sonata Principal out of the relationship between I and V, Debussy would do that with the relationship between sonorities that are unstable and even less stable.
The piece is in Sonata form, with a complete Exposition, Development, and modified Recapitulation. However, the key areas don’t reflect that the way the listener might expect. Being that the vast majority of this piece is in G, it is musical material other than key areas that one must use in order
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