The Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers

This week Dr. Tobin discusses this supernatural Prelude from Book II.

He shows the illustration which inspired it, Arthur Rackham’s illustration of the Fairies from “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” by J.M Barrie, which we have in the collection of Adams Music House!

Dr. Tobin avoids being too technical for too long, and concludes this post with a performance of The Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers on the piano Debussy composed it on, his Bluethner in Brive la-Gaillarde, a charming Medieval town in Central France.

Sunken Cathedral

This week Dr. Tobin discusses Claude Debussy’s Book I Prelude Engulfed or “Sunken Cathedral”. It is based on the legend of the sunken town of Y off the Breton French Coast. Dr. Tobin discusses how Debussy paints the image of a sunken cathedral that rises from the depths of the sea. After the discussion, he includes are recording he made on the piano Debussy composed it on, the Bluethner in Brive la-Gaillarde, France. For further contrast, Dr. Tobin includes a video he made at Mont St Michel on the coast of Normandie and a recording made on a Steinway Model A piano in Wetizkon, Switzerland.

Debussy Broulliards

This week Dr. Tobin is taking a suggestion from Jason Hoogerhyde, Professor of Composition at Southwestern University, to discuss the Book II Prelude Broulliards.

Dr. Tobin did a thesis which explored abstract pitch relationships in Debussy Preludes. This week the material is rather abstract, but he tries to keep it understandable. Debussy uses abstraction to create the image of mists and fog, to have blending and overlapping contrasted with flashes of light and clear white and black key contrasts.

Pagodes and La Mer

This week Dr. Tobin discusses one of his favorite pieces, Pagodes from Estampes. The role that the Javanese Gamelan, the 1889 Paris Exposition, Japanese art, the Symphonic Poem “La Mer”, and Debussy’s love of the sea are all discussed. The presentation ends with a performance of Pagodes on Debussy’s special 1904 Bluethner Piano, played in Brive la-Gaillarde France and set to imager from Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Kamakura.