|Full name||: Claude Debussy|
|Alias||: Claude Debussy|
|Animals||: The Dog|
|Father||: Manuel-Achille Debussy|
|Mother||: Victorine Manoury Debussy|
|Wife||: Rosalie ('Lilly') Texier|
|Children||: Claude-Emma Debussy|
|Education||: Conservatoire de Paris Académie des Beaux-Arts|
Claude-Achille Debussy was a remarkable French composer and one of the most leading figures associated with the domain of impressionist music along with Maurice Ravel. His marvelous contribution to the art of music won him the status of Chevalier of the ‘Legion of Honour’ in 1903. He dramatically disregarded the traditional chord structures and tonality and pioneered in penetrating into the modern era in Western music. His musical attributes echo sensory components not composed over one key or pitch and his compositions are sans any specific tempo or rhythm. He was triggered by the prevailing musical movement of ‘symbolism’ and his compositions fit into the impressionist genre of classical music akin to those of the visual art movements. Debussy’s works are an expression of the happenings and turmoil in his lifetime. His long unsuccessful affairs with several women kept him disturbed most of the times, mirrored in his works. His greatest works such as the revolutionary ‘Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune’ and ‘Pelléas et Mélisande’ and many others had an enduring influence on almost every major composer of the 20th century.
In the preparatory stage of his career, Claude Debussy played sonata movements by Beethoven, Schumann and Weber and Chopin—the Ballade No. 2, a movement from the Piano Concerto No. 1, and the Allegro de concert in public. He was greatly inclined towards his friend ‘Madame Vasnier’, a singer whom he came across when he started working as an accompanist to earn his livelihood. She along with her husband gave him huge exposure by familiarizing him to the writings of influential French writers of that era. His composition ‘L'enfant prodigue’ won him the ‘Prix de Rome’ in 1884 and he received a scholarship to the ‘Académie des Beaux-Arts’, which was accompanied by a four-year stay at the Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome. During those days Debussy’s authored four pieces of compositions such as the ‘Symphonic ode Zuleima’ (based on a text by Heinrich Heine), the orchestral piece ‘Printemps’, the ‘cantata La damoiselle élue’ and the ‘Fantaisie’ for piano and orchestra. Debussy got acquainted with the Wagnerian opera during his visits to Bayreuth in 1888-89, which had a lifelong impact on his works.
Born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France on 22 August 1862, Claude Debussy was the eldest of five children of ‘Manuel-Achille Debussy’ who owned a shop selling china and crockery and ‘Victorine Manoury Debussy’ who was a seamstress. Debussy’s talents were discerned right from his childhood and he began taking piano lessons at the tender age of seven by Cerutti. In 1872, at the age of ten, Debussy joined the Paris Conservatoire, where he spent eleven years of musical learning. There, he came across the affluent ‘Nadezhda von Meck’ who gave him the job of a music teacher to her children. She provided very valuable musical experience to Debussy through travel, concerts and contacts. In the Paris Conservatoire, he met many eminent personalities involved in music. For instance, he studied composition with Ernest Guiraud, harmony with Émile Durand, music history/theory with Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray, organ with César Franck, piano with Antoine François Marmontel and solfège with Albert Lavignac.
Debussy had a chaotic personal life characterized by lengthy but unsuccessful love affairs, a broken marriage and finally settling down with an already married woman. Since the age of 18, he had an unsuccessful eight year affair with ‘Blanche Vasnier’, wife of a Parisian lawyer, followed by a passionate but turmoil nine-year relationship with Gabrielle Dupont, a tailor's daughter from Lisieux. During this period he was also engaged to the singer Thérèse Roger for a short period of time. He shun Dupont for her friend Rosalie ('Lilly') Texier, a fashion model whom he married in 1899. But this marriage proved to be a disaster as Debussy was frustrated because he felt that she couldn’t get along with him on musical terms.
In 1904, Debussy was totally enchanted by one of his student’s (Raoul’s) mother – Emma Bardac, wife of Parisian banker Sigismond Bardac. Debussy found Emma Bardac very refined with alluring communication skills and a talented singer. Debussy even took her clandestinely for a holiday to Jersey and declared his attentions of leaving Texier. On 14th October, just five days prior to the fifth anniversary of Texier and Debussy, Texier attempted suicide but survived. The love affair between Debussy and Emma was contravened by Debussy’s friends as well as Emma’s family. In the spring of 1905, Debussy and the pregnant Bardac fled to England and stayed at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne from 24 July to 30 August 1905. Here Debussy worked on the proofs of his symphonic suite ‘La Mer’. Finally, Debussy and Texier were divorced on 2 August 1905. The new couple returned to Paris in September, settling on the ‘Avenue du Bois de Boulogne’ for the rest of their lives. Emma gave birth to a daughter (Debussy’s only child) Claude-Emma on 30 October who was fondly known as 'Chouchou'. The birth of Claude-Emma greatly influenced Debussy's ‘Children's Corner’ suite. Debussy married Emma in 1908, and this marriage survived till Debussy's death in 1918. Sorrowfully, Debussy’s daughter expired in the following year of Debussy’s death when diphtheria epidemic spread in1919.