A CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW OF WESTERN MUSIC HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD EVENTS

Claude Debussy

Birth icon
August 22, 1862: 04:30 Achille-Claude Debussy is born at 38 rue au Pain in St. Germain-en-Laye, Seine-et-Oise, French Empire, the first of five children born to Manuel-Achille Debussy, proprietor of a china shop and Victorine Joséphine Sophie Manoury, daughter of a wheelwright.
Event icon
October 22, 1872: Claude Debussy (10) enters the Paris Conservatoire in the piano class of Antoine Marmontel and the solfege class of Albert Lavignac.
Event icon
October 25, 1872: Claude Debussy (10) attends his first piano class at the Conservatoire.
Event icon
November 7, 1872: Claude Debussy (10) attends his first solfege class at the Conservatoire.
Performance icon
January 16, 1876: Claude Debussy (13) performs in public for the first time, in a recital in Chauny organized by his teacher, Antoine Marmontel.
Event icon
November 24, 1877: Claude Debussy (15) competes in the harmony class of Emile Durand, unsuccessfully. Durand thinks him “very gifted” in harmony but criticizes “a discouraging thoughtlessness.”
Event icon
November 27, 1877: Claude Debussy (15) enters the harmony class of Émile Durand at the Paris Conservatoire.
Event icon
July 26, 1878: Edward MacDowell (17) participates in his first concours at the Paris Conservatoire before a committee which includes Henri Herz (75), Camille Saint-Saëns (42), and Ambroise Thomas (66). His prepared piece goes well, but his sight-reading from manuscript is a disaster when he mistakenly plays the piece in minor, abruptly switching to major in the middle when he realizes his mistake. Among the other pianists is Claude Debussy (15).
Event icon
June 20, 1879: Émile Durand assesses the progress of his student Claude Debussy (16) at the Paris Conservatoire, “Extremely gifted in harmony, but desperately careless.” (www.debussy.fr)
Event icon
July 17, 1880: Claude Debussy (17) receives first prize in accompaniment at the Paris Conservatoire.
Event icon
July 20, 1880: While vacationing at Interlaken, Nadezhda von Meck, patron of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (40), receives a young French pianist into her entourage to accompany her children’s singing and to play duets with her. His name is Claude Debussy (17).
Event icon
December 24, 1880: Claude Debussy (18) enters the composition class of Ernest Guiraud at the Paris Conservatoire.
Performance icon
May 12, 1882: Les Roses and Fête galante for voice and piano by Claude Debussy (19) to words of Banville, are performed for the first time, Debussy at the keyboard, along with the composer’s Nocturne et Scherzo for violin and piano, at the salon of the piano maker Flaxland in Paris.
Event icon
September 8, 1882: Nadezhda von Meck writes to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (42) from her country home at Pleshcheyvo near Podolsk, “Yesterday, to my great joy, Achille Debussy (20) arrived. Now I shall gorge myself listening to music, and he’ll bring the whole house to life. He’s a Parisian to his fingertips, a real gamin de Paris, as witty as they come and a brilliant mimic. He takes Gounod (64) and Ambroise Thomas (71) off perfectly, he makes you die laughing.”
Event icon
June 22, 1883: Claude Debussy (20) wins the second grand prix de Rome for his setting of the cantata Le Gladiateur.
Performance icon
June 23, 1883: Le Gladiateur, Claude Debussy’s (20) prix de Rome entry and winner of the first Second Grand Prix, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Conservatoire.
Performance icon
May 17, 1884: Le Printemps for chorus and orchestra by Claude Debussy (21) to words of Barbier, is performed for the first time.
Event icon
May 23, 1884: Claude Debussy (21) and eight others enter their cells for the Prix de Rome competition.
Event icon
June 27, 1884: Claude Debussy’s (21) setting of L’Enfant prodigue to words of Guinand is placed before the Prix de Rome jury.
Event icon
June 28, 1884: Claude Debussy’s (21) setting of L’Enfant prodigue wins the Grand Prix de Rome. “I had a sudden vision of boredom, and of all the worries that inevitably go together with any form of official recognition. I felt I was no longer free.” (Jensen, 28)
Event icon
August 5, 1884: Claude Debussy (21) is awarded the Grand Prix de Rome.
Performance icon
January 25, 1885: La Saugefleurie, an orchestral work by Vincent d’Indy (33) is performed for the first time, in Paris. It is possible that Claude Debussy (22) has delayed his departure for Rome to hear this premiere.
Event icon
January 27, 1885: Against his will, Claude Debussy (22) leaves for his sojourn at the Villa Medici in Rome, required of all Prix de Rome winners.
Event icon
January 30, 1885: Claude Debussy (22) arrives in Rome to begin his Prix de Rome stay.
Performance icon
January 8, 1886: On a visit to the Villa Medici in Rome, Franz Liszt (74) hears a piano duet version of his Faust Symphony played by Paul Vidal and Claude Debussy (23). Unfortunately, the maestro falls asleep during the performance.
Performance icon
January 13, 1886: Visiting Ernest Hébert, the director of the Villa Medici, once again, Franz Liszt (74) performs at the piano for his guests, among them Claude Debussy (23).
Event icon
March 5, 1887: Claude Debussy (24) finally quits Rome and returns to Paris.
Performance icon
March 13, 1887: Claude Debussy (24) hears the first act of Tristan und Isolde in Paris. He is very much taken with it.
Event icon
May 3, 1887: Music of Richard Wagner (†4) is staged in Paris for the first time since his death with a production of Lohengrin at the Eden-Théâtre. Among the audience are Gabriel Fauré (41), Ernest Chausson (32), and Claude Debussy (24). Conductor Charles Lamoreux has been publicly accused of being a German agent. A riot takes place outside the theatre with several hefty projectiles thrown at the building, breaking windows. Numerous arrests ensue.
Event icon
January 8, 1889: Claude Debussy (26) becomes a member of the Société Nationale de Musique.
Performance icon
February 2, 1889: Au cimitière op.51/2 for voice and piano by Gabriel Fauré (43) to words of Richepin is performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique, Paris. At the same concert, two of the Ariettes for voice and piano by Claude Debussy (26) to words of Verlaine are performed for the first time.
Performance icon
March 1, 1889: Petite Suite for piano four hands by Claude Debussy (26) is performed for the first time, privately, in Paris. See 23 May 1894.
Performance icon
June 22, 1889: Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (45) and Alyeksandr Glazunov (23) conduct the Colonne Orchestra in the first of two concerts dedicated to Russian music at the Trocadéro during the Paris Exhibition. Among those attending is Claude Debussy (26)
Performance icon
April 21, 1890: Incidental music to Haraucourt’s play La Passion by Gabriel Fauré (44) is performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique in the Salle Erard, Paris. The Fantaisie for piano and orchestra by Claude Debussy (27) is programmed for this concert but after the dress rehearsal, the conductor, Vincent d’Indy (39), believing the concert to be too long, plans to perform only one movement. Debussy does not agree to this, and, although he respects d’Indy, removes the orchestral parts from the stands.
Event icon
October 27, 1892: Claude Debussy (30) dedicates copy no.45 of his Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire to Erik Satie (26), whom he calls a “gentle medieval musician strayed into this century for the joy of his friend CA Debussy.”
Performance icon
April 8, 1893: Claude Debussy’s (30) poème lyrique La damoiselle élue for soprano, female chorus, and orchestra to words of Rossetti translated by Sarrazin is performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique in the Salle Erard, Paris. It is the first orchestral composition by Debussy to be publicly performed. The work receives a good response, including this review in Le Figaro : It has, all by itself, more life than the compositions preceded...It is so good, a breath of youth...Here is new blood...
Event icon
May 17, 1893: Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Pelléas et Melisande is premiered at the Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris to a chorus of hostile reviews. In the audience is an interested composer named Claude Debussy (30).
Event icon
May 30, 1893: Claude Debussy (30) visits the home of Ernest Chausson (38) in Luzancy on the Marne. He will stay until 3 June and will be invited back in mid-June. The two are becoming close friends. Here, Debussy will become more familiar with the music of Modest Musorgsky (†12).
Performance icon
December 29, 1893: The String Quartet by Claude Debussy (31) is performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique, Paris.
Event icon
January 10, 1894: Claude Debussy (31) joins the Société des auteurs.
Performance icon
February 17, 1894: Even though he has been living with Gabrielle Dupont for two years, Claude Debussy (31) announces his engagement to Thérèse Roger, a singer. Within a month, the couple will abandon this plan. Today, Roger sings the premiere of the last two of the Proses lyriques by Debussy in the Salle Favart, Paris, the composer at the piano.
Performance icon
March 1, 1894: The first concert devoted entirely to the works of Claude Debussy (31) takes place in the gallery of La Libre Esthétique in Brussels. The composer is present and is pleased by the performances and the audience reaction.
Performance icon
May 23, 1894: Two works by Claude Debussy (31) are performed for the first time: the second of the Deux Arabesques for piano, and the Petite Suite for piano-four hands. For the suite, it is the first public performance. See 1 March 1889.
Performance icon
December 22, 1894: The lowest and highest natures of the French character are exhibited on the same day. After a four-day secret court martial, Captain Alfred Dreyfus is found guilty of betraying military secrets and is sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island, French Guiana. In the evening, Prélude a l’après-midi d’un faune, a tone poem by Claude Debussy (32) after Mallarmé, is performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique, Paris. The work is cheered by audience and orchestra and is encored. The poet, who is in attendance, is pleased. The critics are mixed.
Event icon
May 12, 1896: The music critic Willy (Henri Gauthier-Villars) writes in Echo de Paris, “The paradoxical Doret will conduct, at the Exposition of Geneva, certain Gymnopédies by Erik Satie (29), who has taken care beforehand to have them orchestrated by Claude Debussy (33). That’s fine, but it’s not enough. To make performable the music of that mystical sausage-brain, it does not suffice to have it orchestrated by a composer of talent; someone else would also have to rewrite the melody. And even that would be worthless...”
Performance icon
February 20, 1897: The first and third of the Trois Gymnopédies by Erik Satie (30), as orchestrated by Claude Debussy (34), are performed for the first time, in the Salle Erard, Paris.
Event icon
October 5, 1898: Ernst Bloch (18) enters the orchestra of Eugene Ysaÿe in Brussels as a violinist. At today’s first rehearsal he is so nervous that he puts soap on his bow so that no one will hear the mistakes. Eventually, Bloch will become acquainted with many members of the Ysaÿe circle, including Claude Debussy (36), Camille Saint-Saëns (62), and Gabriel Fauré (53).
Event icon
January 17, 1899: Le Temps publishes a petition from the Comité de l’Appel à Union favoring moderation and reconciliation in the Dreyfus affair. Among others, it is signed by Claude Debussy (36) and Gustave Charpentier (38).
Performance icon
February 27, 1899: Claude Debussy’s (36) piano work Reverie is performed for the first time.
Event icon
June 15, 1899: A funeral service in memory of Ernest Chausson held in St. François-de-Sales, Paris is attended by hundreds of artists, among them Gabriel Fauré (54), Henri Duparc (51), Isaac Albéniz (39), Claude Debussy (36), Paul Dukas (33), Charles Koechlin (31), Edgar Degas, and Auguste Rodin. His mortal remains are laid to rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
Event icon
October 19, 1899: Claude Debussy (37) marries Rosalie “Lily” Texier in a civil ceremony in Paris. She is a model in a dressmaker’s firm, the daughter of a telegraph inspector for the French Railroad. Among the witnesses is Erik Satie (33). Debussy teaches a lesson in the morning so he can afford dinner with his new wife after the ceremony.
Performance icon
February 2, 1900: Louise, a roman musical by Gustave Charpentier (39) to words of Saint-Pol-Roux and the composer, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre Favart in Paris. It will be staged 50 times in the next six months. Claude Debussy (37) will write, “It was a necessity, I think, for this work to be written, performed, and applauded. It fills to perfection the need for vulgar beauty and imbecile art proclaimed by the many…”
Performance icon
March 10, 1900: The piano piece Tarantelle styrienne by Claude Debussy (37) is performed for the first time, at the Société National de Musique, Paris.
Performance icon
March 17, 1900: Chansons de Bilitis for solo voice and piano, words by Louÿs and music by Claude Debussy (37) is performed for the first time, at the Salle Pleyel, Paris, the composer at the keyboard.
Performance icon
December 9, 1900: Two of the three Nocturnes, Nuages and Fêtes, by Claude Debussy (38) are performed for the first time, in Paris. Critics are generally positive. At the concert, Erik Satie (34) is introduced to pianist Ricardo Viñes by Maurice Ravel (25). Viñes will become a major exponent of Satie’s work. See 27 October 1901.
Performance icon
February 7, 1901: The Chansons de Bilitis for two flutes, two harps, and celesta of Claude Debussy (38) is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Event icon
April 1, 1901: Readers of the Parisian La revue blanche are treated to the first music criticism of Monsieur Croche. It is the nom de plume of Claude Debussy (38).
Event icon
May 3, 1901: Albert Carré, director of the Opéra-Comique, gives Claude Debussy (38) a written understanding that he will stage Pelléas et Mélisande.
Event icon
May 30, 1901: Maurice Maeterlinck meets with Claude Debussy (38) in Paris about the planned production of Pelléas et Mélisande. Maeterlinck wants his mistress, Georgette Leblanc, to sing Mélisande. Debussy is non-committal. Privately, he tells a friend “Not only does she sing out of tune, she speaks out of tune.” (Jensen, 72)
Performance icon
October 27, 1901: Nocturnes, by Claude Debussy (39), is given it’s first complete performance, in Paris. See 9 December 1900.
Event icon
December 29, 1901: Le ménestral reports that Mary Garden will play Melisande in the upcoming Debussy-Maeterlinck opera. The poet is so angry that he goes to the composer’s house with the intent of using his cane on Debussy (39). Debussy remains unmoved and Maeterlinck will seek to destroy the performance. There is reason to believe that Maeterlinck desires that his mistress, Georgette Leblanc be cast in the role.
Performance icon
January 11, 1902: Claude Debussy’s (39) Pour le piano is performed for the first time, at the Salle Erard, Paris.
Event icon
January 13, 1902: Rehearsals for Claude Debussy’s (39) opera Pelléas et Mélisande begin in Paris. They will continue nearly every day but Sundays until the premiere. The poet, Maurice Maeterlinck disassociates himself with the production after Mary Garden is chosen to be Mélisande.
Event icon
February 14, 1902: The cases of the antagonists in the Pelléas et Mélisande case, Claude Debussy (39) and Maurice Maeterlinck, are placed before the Société des Auteurs dramatiques.
Event icon
April 12, 1902: Jules Massenet (59) views a rehearsal of the last two scenes of Claude Debussy’s (39) Pelléas et Mélisande. He leaves with almost no comment.
Performance icon
April 30, 1902: Pelléas et Mélisande, an opera by Claude Debussy (39) to words of Maeterlinck (abridged by the composer), is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris. The production elicits arguments in the crowd, laughter, and cheers. An interested composer named Maurice Ravel (27) attends every one of the first thirty performances.
Event icon
January 1, 1903: Claude Debussy (40) receives the Cross of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
Performance icon
January 7, 1903: L’étranger, an action musicale by Vincent d’Indy (51) to his own words, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels. Present is Claude Debussy (40) who hugs the composer at the end of the performance.
Event icon
October 1, 1903: Claude Debussy (41) meets Emma Bardac for the first time. She is the wife of banker Sigismond Bardac, a singer, and the former mistress of Gabriel Fauré (58).
Performance icon
January 9, 1904: Estampes for piano by Claude Debussy (41), is performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique, Paris. The audience requires the pianist, Ricardo Viñes, to encore “Jardin sous la pluie.”
Event icon
July 15, 1904: Claude Debussy (41) puts his wife, Rosalie “Lily” Texier on a train to her parents’ home, and goes to Emma Bardac. He is planning to leave her for Emma Bardac.
Event icon
July 30, 1904: Claude Debussy (41) and Emma Bardac depart Paris for Jersey. They are both married, but not to each other.
Event icon
August 10, 1904: Writing from Pourville, near Dieppe, Claude Debussy (41) tells his wife Lily that he is leaving her. He does not mention his mistress, Emma Bardac, who is presently with him.
Event icon
September 25, 1904: Claude Debussy (42) returns to Paris after leaving his wife and spending over a month in Jersey with his mistress, Emma Bardac. He moves into an apartment alone, rented on credit.
Event icon
October 13, 1904: Three months after her husband, Claude Debussy (42), left her, Rosalie “Lily” Texier shoots herself “beneath the breast” in her Paris home. She will survive, and the bullet will never be removed.
Performance icon
November 6, 1904: Danses for harp and string orchestra by Claude Debussy (42), is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Performance icon
February 10, 1905: L’Isle joyeuse and Masques for piano, by Claude Debussy (42), are performed for the first time, in the Salle Aeolian, Paris.
Event icon
May 4, 1905: Emma Bardac, the mistress of Claude Debussy (42), receives a divorce from her husband, Sigismond Bardac, a banker. She is already pregnant.
Event icon
July 17, 1905: Claude Debussy (42) is required by the court to pay his wife, Lily Texier, a monthly stipend of 400 francs. This will be paid by his publisher, Durand.
Event icon
August 2, 1905: Claude Debussy (42) receives a divorce from his wife, Rosalie “Lily” Texier.
Performance icon
October 15, 1905: La Mer, for orchestra by Claude Debussy (43), is performed for the first time, in Paris. The critics are confused and generally hostile.
Birth icon
October 30, 1905: A daughter, Claude-Emma (Chou-chou), is born to Claude Debussy (43) and his mistress, with whom he is living, Emma (Moyse) Bardac. See 20 January 1908.
Performance icon
December 14, 1905: Hommage à Rameau, one of the Images (Book I) by Claude Debussy (43), is performed for the first time, in Paris. See 6 February 1906.
Performance icon
February 6, 1906: Images for piano, Book I, by Claude Debussy (43) is performed completely for the first time, in the Salle des Agriculteurs, Paris. See 14 December 1905.
Event icon
March 25, 1906: Claude Debussy (43) and Richard Strauss (41) meet for the first and only time, at the home of Jacques Durand. Strauss has asked for the meeting to discuss organizations to distribute royalties. Since Debussy knows little of the subject, Strauss is probably disappointed.
Performance icon
January 12, 1908: Claude Debussy (45) conducts for the first time, La Mer, in Paris.
Event icon
January 20, 1908: After living together for three-and-a-half years and producing a child, Claude Debussy (45) and Emma Moyse Bardac marry in the Mairie of the 16th arrondissement, Paris. She is the former wife of banker Sigismond Bardac, and the mother of two.
Performance icon
February 1, 1908: On his fourth trip to the city, Claude Debussy (45) appears as conductor in London for the first time, directing his Prélude á l’après-midi d’un fune and La Mer.
Performance icon
February 21, 1908: Book Two of the piano work Images, by Claude Debussy (45) is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Event icon
June 30, 1908: Manuel de Falla (31) plays his Cuatro piezas españolas for Claude Debussy (55) in Paris. See 27 March 1909.
Event icon
July 5, 1908: Claude Debussy (45) signs a contract with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, to produce his opera project La Chute de la Maison Usher.
Performance icon
December 18, 1908: Claude Debussy’s (46) piano suite Children’s Corner is performed for the first time, in the Cercle musical, Paris.
Event icon
February 27, 1909: After a concert in Queen’s Hall, London wherein he conducts two of his works, Claude Debussy (45) meets Jean Sibelius (43) for the first time. The two are complimentary towards each other.
Performance icon
March 11, 1909: Trois chansons de Charles d’Orléans for acappella chorus by Claude Debussy (46) is performed for the first time, in Salle de L’Université des arts, in Paris.
Performance icon
February 20, 1910: Ibéria from Images for orchestra by Claude Debussy (47) is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Performance icon
March 2, 1910: Rondes de Printemps from Images for orchestra by Claude Debussy (47) is performed for the first time, in Paris, conducted by the composer.
Performance icon
April 20, 1910: At the inaugural concert of the Société Musical Indépendente at the Salle Gaveau, the song cycle La Chanson d’Eve op.95 by the society’s president Gabriel Fauré (64) to words of van Lerberghe, is given its first complete performance, the composer at the piano. Other premieres heard on this occasion are Ma mère l’oye by the force behind the new society, Maurice Ravel (35) for piano four hands, performed by two pianists aged six and ten, and Claude Debussy’s (47) D’un cahier d’esquisses, performed by Maurice Ravel at the keyboard. See 3 February 1908, 26 May 1909, and 29 January 1912.
Performance icon
May 25, 1910: Some of the Préludes for piano (Danseuses de Delphes, Voiles, La cathédrale engloutie, La danse de Puck) by Claude Debussy (47) are performed for the first time, by the composer in Paris.
Performance icon
June 2, 1910: La fille aux cheveux de lin, one of the Préludes, Book I for piano by Claude Debussy (47), is performed for the first time, in Bechstein Hall, London.
Performance icon
June 25, 1910: The Firebird, a ballet by Igor Stravinsky (28) to a scenario by Fokin, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra. After the performance, Claude Debussy (47) is brought on stage to meet the young composer and compliments him warmly.
Performance icon
July 26, 1910: Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest, one of the Préludes, Book I by Claude Debussy (47), is performed for the first time, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Event icon
December 9, 1910: Claude Debussy (48) signs a contract to write music for Gabriele D’Annunzio’s mystery play Le martyre de Saint-Sébastien. He is guaranteed 20,000 francs and a percentage of the performances.
Performance icon
January 14, 1911: New works by Claude Debussy (48) are performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique, Paris: Le Promenoir des deux amants, for solo voice and piano to words of Lhermite, and two of the Préludes, Book I (Les collines d’Anacapri, La sérénade interrompue).
Performance icon
January 16, 1911: Through the efforts of Maurice Ravel (35), Erik Satie (44) is given his first important hearing at a concert of the Société Musicale Indépendente in the Salle Gaveau. Ravel premieres the Sarabande no.2 from 1887 and the Gymnopédie no.3 from 1888. Works by Claude Debussy (48) are given their first hearing: Rhapsody no.1 for clarinet and orchestra, and two of the Préludes, Book I for piano (Le Vent dans la plaine, “Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir”). The concert proves a great success.
Performance icon
February 5, 1911: Trois ballades de Villon, for solo voice and piano by Claude Debussy (48) is given its first complete performance, in Paris.
Performance icon
February 10, 1911: Minstrels, one of the Préludes, Book I of Claude Debussy (48), is performed for the first time, in the Salle des Agriculteurs, Paris.
Performance icon
March 11, 1911: Six piano works in honor of Franz Joseph Haydn (†101) are performed for the first time, at a Société Nationale concert in the Salle Pleyel, Paris: Menuet sur le nom d'Haydn by Vincent d'Indy (59), Homage à Haydn by Claude Debussy (48), Prélude élégiaque sur le nom de Haydn by Paul Dukas (45), Menuet sur le nom d'Haydn by Maurice Ravel (36), and works by Reynaldo Hahn and Charles-Marie Widor.
Performance icon
March 25, 1911: Claude Debussy’s (48) orchestration of his Children’s Corner Suite is performed for the first time, in Paris, the composer conducting.
Performance icon
May 3, 1911: Préludes, Book I for piano by Claude Debussy (48) is heard completely for the first time, in Salle Pleyel, Paris.
Event icon
May 8, 1911: The Archbishop of Paris forbids Catholics to attend Claude Debussy’s (48) setting of D’Annunzio’s mystery play Le martyre de Saint-Sébastien in which Ida Rubenstein, a Jew, is to play the title role.
Death icon
May 21, 1911: At the beginning of a Paris to Madrid air race at Issy, French War Minister Maurice Berteaux is struck by an airplane and killed. Prime Minister Monis and several others are badly injured. Issy is the site of the exploits of Manuel Debussy (father of the composer) during the war of the Commune in 1871.
Performance icon
May 22, 1911: Incidental music to D’Annunzio’s mystery play Le martyre de St. Sébastien by Claude Debussy (48) is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. The work is generally a failure, partly because of yesterday’s accident, partly because the Archbishop of Paris has forbidden Catholics to attend.
Performance icon
May 29, 1912: Claude Debussy’s (49) Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune is danced for the first time, in the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. The part of the faun is taken by the choreographer, Vaclav Nizhinsky. It causes such a scandal that police will be called out for the second performance. A young composer named Igor Stravinsky (29) is in the audience.
Event icon
June 10, 1912: At the home of Louis Laloy in Paris, Igor Stravinsky (29) and Claude Debussy (49) play through a four-hand piano transcription of The Rite of Spring. Laloy and Debussy are “dumbfounded, thunderstruck as though by a hurricane from the remote past, which had seized our lives by the roots.” (Stravinsky may have played through some of The Rite of Spring but it seems unlikely he would have had a full four-hand version this early.)
Performance icon
June 24, 1912: In a recital of the works of Claude Debussy (49) by several young pianists in Mexico City, Carlos Chávez (13) plays Clair de lune.
Performance icon
January 26, 1913: Gigues by Claude Debussy (50) is performed for the first time, in Paris as part of the first complete performance of Images for orchestra, the composer conducting. See 20 February 1910 and 2 March 1910.
Performance icon
March 5, 1913: Three of the Préludes, Book II (Brouillards, Feuilles mortes, and La Puerta del Vino) for piano by Claude Debussy (50) are performed for the first time, in Salle Érard, Paris by the composer.
Performance icon
April 5, 1913: Three of the Préludes, Book II (Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses, La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune, Feux d’artifice) for piano by Claude Debussy (50), are performed for the first time, by the Société nationale de musique in Paris.
Performance icon
April 8, 1913: Two of the Préludes, Book II by Claude Debussy (50) (Bruyères and “Général Lavine” eccentric) are performed for the first time, in Salle Érard, Paris.
Performance icon
May 15, 1913: Jeux, a ballet by Claude Debussy (50) to a scenario by Nizhinsky, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris. It is largely ignored.
Performance icon
June 12, 1913: Préludes, Book II for piano by Claude Debussy (50) is performed completely for the first time, in Aeolian Hall, London.
Performance icon
December 1, 1913: Syrinx for solo flute by Claude Debussy (51), is performed for the first time, at the residence of Louis Mors, Paris. See 13 December 1913.
Performance icon
December 13, 1913: Syrinx for solo flute by Claude Debussy (51) is performed publicly for the first time, as part of Mourey’s play Psyché, in Paris. See 1 December 1913.
Event icon
February 7, 1914: Camille Saint-Saëns (78), Felipe Pedrell (72), Engelbert Humperdinck (59), Edward Elgar (56), and Claude Debussy(51) are awarded honorary membership in the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
Performance icon
March 21, 1914: Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé by Claude Debussy (51), for voice and piano, is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Event icon
July 17, 1914: In his last trip outside of France, Claude Debussy (51) conducts a concert of his own works in London.
Event icon
September 4, 1914: Fleeing Paris before the Germans, Claude Debussy (52) and his family receive a safe conduct pass to go to Angers. They will stay about a month.
Performance icon
October 26, 1915: Berceuse héroique, a work for small orchestra composed by Claude Debussy (53) to honor “King Albert I of Belgium and his soldiers”, is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Event icon
December 7, 1915: Claude Debussy (53) undergoes an operation for cancer. A colostomy is performed. Next month he will receive treatment with radium.
Performance icon
January 22, 1916: En blanc et noir for two pianos by Claude Debussy (53) is performed for the first time, privately, at the Paris home of the Princesse de Polignac. See 9 March 1916.
Performance icon
March 9, 1916: En blanc et noir for two pianos by Claude Debussy (53) is performed publicly for the first time, at Casino St.-Pierre, Geneva. See 22 January 1916.
Performance icon
April 9, 1916: Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maison, for voice and piano by Claude Debussy (53) to his own words, is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Event icon
July 15, 1916: Claude Debussy (53) is ordered by the court to pay 30,000 francs as a down payment for his ex-wife’s alimony. He has not paid it for six years.
Event icon
September 11, 1916: Claude Debussy (54) departs Paris for Moulleau, still recovering from his operation last December.
Performance icon
December 10, 1916: The Sonata for flute, viola, and harp by Claude Debussy (54) is performed for the first time, privately, at the Paris home of Jacques Durand. See 9 March 1917.
Performance icon
December 14, 1916: Etudes by Claude Debussy (53) are performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique, Paris.
Performance icon
March 9, 1917: The Sonata for flute, viola, and harp by Claude Debussy (54) is performed publicly for the first time, in Salle Laurent, Paris. See 10 December 1916.
Performance icon
March 24, 1917: A Cello Sonata by Claude Debussy (54) is performed for the first time, in Paris, the composer at the keyboard.
Performance icon
May 5, 1917: The Violin Sonata of Claude Debussy (54) is performed for the first time, in Paris the composer at the piano. This is Debussy’s last public performance in Paris.
Death icon
March 25, 1918: 22:00 During the German bombardment Achille-Claude Debussy dies in his home at 80 Avenue du Bois de Boulogne (23 Square de l’Avenue Foch), Paris, Republic of France, of colorectal cancer, aged 55 years, seven months, and three days.
Event icon
March 28, 1918: The body of Claude Debussy is laid to rest in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, Paris, in the presence of the Minister of Education and about 25 others. 50 began the procession, but many drifted off along the way. Eventually, the body will be reinterred in Passy Cemetery.
Event icon
April 3, 1918: Erik Satie (51) writes of Claude Debussy, “My poor friend! What a sad end. Now people will discover that he had enormous talent. But that's life!”
Performance icon
December 29, 1918: The first performance of the Society for Private Performances takes place in Vienna. The program includes Alyeksandr Skryabin’s (†3) Piano Sonatas nos.4&7, four songs and Proses lyriques by Claude Debussy (†0) and the Seventh Symphony of Gustav Mahler (†7) in an arrangement for piano-four hands.
Performance icon
May 11, 1919: Claude Debussy’s (†1) Rhapsody for saxophone, completed by Roger-Ducasse, is performed for the first time, by the Société National de Musique, Paris.
Performance icon
November 20, 1919: Fantaisie for piano and orchestra by Claude Debussy (†1) is performed for the first time, in London.
Performance icon
December 10, 1919: La boîte à joujoux, a ballet by Claude Debussy (†1) to a scenario by Hellé, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre Lyrique, Paris. The work, left unfinished at the composer’s death, was partially orchestrated by André Caplet.
Performance icon
January 24, 1921: Three new works are performed for the first time, in the Salle des agriculteurs, Paris: Homenaje for guitar by Manuel de Falla (44) and L’accueil des muses for piano by Albert Roussel (51), both in honor of Claude Debussy (†2), and Premier menuet for piano by Erik Satie (54). The Falla piece is played on harp-lute. See 8 March 1921.
Performance icon
June 10, 1921: Symphonies of Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky (38) is performed for the first time, in Queen’s Hall, London. The work is dedicated to the memory of Claude Debussy (†3).
Performance icon
December 2, 1922: Pour le Tombeau de Claude Debussy for guitar by Manuel de Falla (45) is performed for the first time, at the Paris Conservatoire.
Performance icon
November 15, 1924: Khamma, a ballet by Claude Debussy (†6), is performed for the first time, in a concert setting, in Paris. See 26 March 1947.
Performance icon
October 28, 1926: Lindaraja for piano-four hands by Claude Debussy (†8) is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Performance icon
October 30, 1926: The unfinished incidental music to Shakespeare’s play King Lear by Claude Debussy (†8) is performed for the first time, in the Théâtre-Mogador, Paris.
Event icon
January 17, 1927: Nikolay Roslavets (46) gives a lecture at the Igor Stravinsky Music Polytechnic in Moscow, entitled The New System of Tonal Organization and New Methods of Teaching the Theory of Composition. “With Debussy (†8), in my opinion, begins tonal anarchy.” He compares the anarchy and individualism of western music with the individualism of capitalism and dismisses the work of Skryabin (†11) and Stravinsky (44) as dead ends.
Performance icon
April 2, 1928: Ode à la France for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Claude Debussy (†10) to words of Laloy, and finished by Marius François Gaillard, is performed for the first time, in the Salle Pleyel, Paris along with the premiere of Debussy’s Printemps for female chorus and orchestra to words of the comte de Ségur, and Invocation for male chorus and orchestra, both composed in 1882.
Performance icon
August 17, 1934: Francis Poulenc (35) accompanies Pierre Bernac in some songs by Claude Debussy (†16) in Salzburg. Although they shared a stage once before, this is the real beginning of their collaboration. See 2 May 1926.
Performance icon
June 29, 1938: Four songs by Claude Debussy (†20) are performed for the first time, in the Salle Gaveau, Paris: Sérénade, Souhait, and Le Lilas to words of Banville, and Jane to words of Leconte de Lisle.
Performance icon
March 14, 1939: Romance, a song by Claude Debussy (†20) to words of Bourget, is performed for the first time, in Paris.
Event icon
March 26, 1947: Khamma, a ballet by Claude Debussy (†29) to a scenario by Courtney and Allan, is staged for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris 35 years after it was composed. See 15 November 1924.
Performance icon
June 2, 1955: Pierre Boulez delivers the lecture “Claude Debussy and Anton Webern” at Darmstadt. His Structures Book I is performed today.
Performance icon
February 25, 1977: Claude Debussy’s (†58) incomplete opera La chute de la maison Usher to his own words after Poe is performed for the first time, in New Haven.
Performance icon
May 14, 1993: Rodrigue et Chimène, an opera by Claude Debussy (†75) to words of Mendes after Castro, reconstructed by Langham Smith, orchestrated by Edison Denisov, is performed for the first time, at the Lyon Opéra, 100 years after it was composed.
Performance icon
February 17, 2012: Claude Debussy: Children’s Corner for orchestra by Hans Abrahamsen (59) is performed for the first time, in Utrecht.