The Impressionist Painters. In art, the term
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1. Brian Bondari Unit XXI - The Impressionistic and Post-Impressionistic Eras Chapter 63
Debussy and Impressionism
2. The Impressionist Painters In art, the term “impressionism” describes the hazy, luminous paintings of Monet and his followers.
These artists strove to retain their impressions on canvas.
They took painting out of the studio and into the open air.
Their focus shifted from the human form to light itself.
3. The Impressionist Painters Claude Monet: “Ice”
4. The Symbolist Poets Strove for direct poetic experience unspoiled by intellectual elements
Sought to suggest rather than describe
Presented symbols rather than the real thing
Prominent Symbolist poets:
Stephane Mallarmé (1842-1898)
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)
5. The Symbolist Poets Symbolists were sensitive to the sound of a word as well as its meaning.
Tried to evoke poetic images that affected all the senses.
Symbolists were able to give language an abstract quality that had once belonged to music alone.
6. Impressionism in Music Composers were beginning to exhaust the major-minor tonal system.
Debussy and his followers were attracted to other scales, such as the church modes of the middle ages.
They leaned toward primary intervals: octaves, 4ths and 5ths.
They explored the scale structures of non-western music.
Found rhythms, scales, and colors that offered a dynamic contrast to the Western ear.
7. Aspects of Impressionist Music Increased dissonance
Composers began to use dissonance as a value in itself, freeing it from the need to resolve
Derived from non-Western sources
Built entirely on whole-step intervals
Lacks a tonal center
8. Aspects of Impressionist Music Parallel Chords
A chord built on one tone is duplicated again at a higher or lower interval
Prohibited in the Classical era
Also known as “gliding” or “planing”
Were considered to be a daring use of tone combinations
Consists of 5 notes, in which the interval between the lowest and highest note is a 9th
Hovers in a borderland between keys
Elusive effect that can be compared to the misty outline of Impressionist painting
9. Aspects of Impressionist Music Orchestral Color
No room for the full, lush sonority of Romantic orchestra
Veiled blending of timbres
Flute and clarinets often played in their dark, lower registers
Violins often played in their lustrous upper range
Trumpets and horns were often muted
Shows the influence of non-Western music
Loss of recurrent accent on the first beat of every measure
Music glides across the bar line in a floating rhythm that obscures the pulse
10. Aspects of Impressionist Music Smaller forms
Impressionists preferred short, lyric forms
Composers used titles that suggested intimate lyricism or painting
Claire de lune (Moonlight)
11. Claude Debussy: His Life and Music Debussy (1862-1918)
Pronounced “de-bu-SEE,” or “WC” if you say it really fast!
Flunked composition at the Paris Conservatory, where bizarre harmonies were frowned upon
12. Claude Debussy: His Life and Music His cantata, The Prodigal Son, won the Prix de Rome when he was 22
Pelleas and Melisande
Opera based on a symbolist drama
Achieved international success
Viewed by many as his greatest achievement
13. Claude Debussy: His Life and Music Debussy considered art to be primarily a sensuous experience.
Epic themes of Romanticism offended him!
Sonata-allegro form offended him!
He turned toward an art of indirection, expressed in short, flexible forms.
14. Claude Debussy: His Life and Music Major works:
Pelleas and Melisande
Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”
La Mer (The Sea)
Claire de Lune (Moonlight)
Evening in Granada
The Sunken Cathedral
15. See Listening Guide 39: Claude Debussy’s Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun” (Prélude á “L’aprés-midi d’un faune” See p. 335 for synopsis of work.
See pp. 338-339 for theme and analysis CD 3 (55-59)