Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of Debussy
It was lovely to hear so much magnificent music from that painter in sound Claude Debussy over the weekend. BBC Radio 3 and many others took the opportunity to mark the centenary yesterday of his death with special programmes and performances.
It underlined what a profound influence this mercurial French composer has had on all that has followed. Though, inevitably perhaps, it wasn’t just his musical legacy that came under the spotlight. There was also much about Debussy the man. For he was not only charismatic and talented but also outrageous and unconventional. A revolutionary genius who was equally at home in the lowlife nightclubs of Montmartre as in the aristocratic salons of Parisian Society.
Of course Clive Conway Productions has its own tribute to Debussy called A Passionate Life: The Life and Times of Claude Debussy. We originally staged it in 2012 to mark his 150th anniversary of his birth. It proved hugely popular so we’re doing it again.
It features much-loved actors Robert Powell and Liza Goddard presenting Debussy’s turbulent times through the composers own brilliantly vivid, sometimes moving, often humorous writings. There are also the thoughts and observations of fellow artists and musicians, the words of friends (and enemies!) interwoven with musical interludes which feature Christine Croshaw, who devised the piece, playing the piano and Clive Conway playing the flute. It was first performed at the Yehudi Menuhin School.
We hear of the unfortunate women who were bewitched by this strange and complex man. He may have possessed both charm and wit but Debussy’s passionate life was punctuated by shootings, attempted suicide, adultery, public scandal! Throughout it all flowed the inspired music which shocked the Establishment with its sensuality and daring harmonic language.
* A Passionate Life: The Life and Times of Claude Debussy will next be staged in Devizes Arts Festival on Sunday June 10th this year. Make a note run your diaries. More info at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk