Ondine

Based on a story by Baron Friedrich de la Motte Foch, Ondine recalls the mythical half-mermaid creatures “Undine’s” and Debussy’s interest in the supernatural and fairy tales.

Dr. Tobin refers to his thesis about Debussy Preludes where he mentions Ondine, it can be downloaded as a PDF.

Dr. Tobin ends the discussion with a performance on Debussy’s Bluethner piano, in Brive la-Gaillarde, France.

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.