9 Interesting illustration Fun Facts About Claude Debussy

classic music

Here are fun facts about Claude Debussy, the French musician, and modern classical music composer. Plenty of details and doodles inside his portrait to illustrate the fun and interesting facts of his life. Art print available here: Claude Debussy Art Print by drawinside.
Plenty of true references to the author of the "clair de lune", his youth, modern classic music, the "Suite bergamasque" and "reverie".

claude debussy art print with doodles

A Modern Classic !

debussy est un musicien moderne

He is at the origin of modern music! or modern classical music to be more accurate. Farewell to the baroque, the well structured German classic music, Debussy wants the violinist to drum his bow on the grand piano and play endless silences that make the public believe that we must applaud (when it's not over! ).

Achille Claude of his real name forged the sound of the 20th century, the impressionist of music (say it quickly, he could not stand this comparison), the womanizer -par excellence- and the "French-Touch" a century before the Daft Punk.  

Whether it's "moonlight" or "raging sea", here is a kind of prelude by the wildlife artist under a radiant afternoon sun. A portrait tour to know a bit more about him ...

Prelude to the Afternoon of a faun.

illustration debussy prelude a l'apres midi d'un faune

Debussy is a pianist but above all, a composer. One day he decides to put music on a poem by Steph. Mallarmé, at the latter's request, because they frequented the same "literary circle" (drinking beer party ?). Debussy couldn't bear Proust, that's why we won't have "The madeleine moment" set to music.

So what is a faun ? It is a man's torso with the lower body of a goat, playing the flute all the afternoon while thinking of the nymphs.

Absolute freedom in the composition, we find the flute, the harp and a coloring of the notes different from the classical tunes of the time!

Pelléas et Melisande, the french Opéra.

For those who ask the question like me :

Pelléas = the boy

Mélisande = the girl

And for those who also ask the question like me:

it is an opera sung in French, with a classic love affait and impossible trio.

.. A bit like Debussy's love life!

illustration de pelleas et melisande dessin

You will see in the detail : Melisande brushing her long hair and Pelléas tangled in his love's hairs, shouting words of love while the cheated husband watches them hidden in a bush.

Rebel Rebel...

Debussy knows how to play the piano, one could even say that he materized seriously his keyboard !

Thanks to his father, he was able to join the Paris Conservatory and he nailed them dry while performing Chopin. Picard's mail headlined "What a verve! What a zest!" after his first concert in Chauny in 1876.

On the other hand, at school, his teachers found him "dizzy, inaccurate, can do much better, bizarre play, natural clumsiness or shyness?". We will also remember that he was bored firmly in Harmony class. He will even say: "The study of harmony as practiced in school is indeed the most solemnly ridiculous way of assembling sounds". (translation: "musical educ. sucks")

debussy trouve l'harmonie musicale ennuyeuse


The musical impressionnist !

It had to be said quickly in his presence, because he hated this nickname (which remains and endures, Claude must fumble in his grave in the Passy cemetery near the Trocadero).

It is mainly due to the fact that he was a contemporary of Monet (Etretat, poppies and waterlillies), and that he also modernized his art by destructuring it (A classic master pieces with a firecracker inside).


debussy, un artiste de musique classique impressioniste


Putting upside down the Top of the Pop.

Imagine yourself in a world where all radio broadcasts are classic : Wagner, Bach, Beethoven Classic (try with a 8 hours play list of 1890's music to better understand).

This is the world where Debussy was livin'in.

omnipresence de la musique allemande a la fin du 19eme siecle

Debussy was fed up with the Teutonic monopoly of the TOP of the CLOP. So he  let's go with a good kick in there by integrating music a little more subtle, delicate, harmonic's free constraints (see Debussy and the Harmony lessons).

French touch !

After a serious Wagner overdose (whom he adored in his youth), Debussy modernized classical music - we are talking about modern music for the beginning of the 19th century -

Freed from the shackles of composition in "A.B.A" (not the Swedish: the classic verse / chorus / verse !), He worked hard to completely disjointed works. The icing on the cake: the tone of the piece can change in the middle of the piece!

debussy  c'est le daft punk du 19eme siecle


Debussy, DebuSea !

Claude was inspired by the view on the "Channel" he had during his stay in Jersey. And like the sea, Debussy's love life is very colorfu l: as beautiful as a sunset, tormented like his wife "Lilly" which he dumped like an old sock for Emma (Lilly came out of despair and shoot a bullet in her stomach - not even dead).

In short, the sea is his life.

claude debussy la mer hokusai wave cover

"The Sea", greatest hit of 2bussy has a great cover photo for the album : the wave by Japanese artist HOKUSAI. Like what we said, it was modern!

French Casanova

Historians speak of "the lover boy", but the ladies called him an asshole! Small review:

debussy et gaby sa premiere femmeGaby :

the first in the series, married two children. He was younger than her and lived a bohemian life in Paris.


debussy et lilly

Lilly succeeds to Gaby :

She is not rich, they were in love but it did not last long, she preferred to listen to Pop music. She threatened to shoot herself if he didn't come back after dropping her after her love at first sight with Emma.

debussy et thereseThérèse :

(a wealthy woman who sang like a pan), he dreamed of an upper class marriage and the advantages that it provides.
Just before the wedding, her wife receives anonymous letters of denunciation.



debussy and emma love



​​finally the great love! He's got a darling daughter from this union. He will lose many friends and support following this new wedding.

Fatherhood will have softened him a bit, but the Black death was his future conquest.




Bohemian !

A bohemian life is the term we use to say when "we earn less than what we spend!" Debussy was very bohemian, he never really made any money.

The positive point is that it develops the imagination. A famous quote from him:

"When you can't afford travel, you have to make up for it with your imagination."

debussy pauvre bohem et l'imagination


Claude Debussy died in March 1919, it was a forever night and Debussy sometimes showed us his presence with a magnificent "Clair de Lune".

Here for the tour of the biographical portrait of Claude Debussy that I made for a commission on the Pleyad campus . (The first print is exhibited in the cafeteria, as well as 5 other portraits).

The portrait is available on the site here if you want to offer an original gift that allows you to get out of the classic while staying now.

Related Posts

Illustrated Fun facts about Edward Elgar
Illustrated Fun facts about Edward Elgar
He may be the best moustache of the 20th Century and many...
Read the story
Ludwig Van Beethoven Facts and Biography
Ludwig Van Beethoven Facts and Biography
Beethoven biography illustrated with fun facts ! An incre...
Read the story
Clara Schumann biography - hand illustrated with classical music facts
Clara Schumann biography - hand illustrated with classical music facts
There was a time, Clara Schumann was the most famous pian...
Read the story

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published