debussy one hundred years on

Fiona Maddocks at the TLS:

The idea that Debussy is one of music’s great revolutionaries still causes consternation. Many who consider themselves fans are aware only of the sensual timbres and mellifluous images in sound, often inspired by literary or visual allusion: water, air, wind, moonlight, at once static and mobile. How can music so apparently formless and exquisite also trigger innovation?

This contradiction between sensory beauty and meticulous, visceral invention is part of Debussy’s fascination. Alert to the intellectual world of early twentieth-century France, he shunned politics and ideology. His music, recognizable but not obviously singable, has been used in commercials for dog food, digitalized baby chimes and, especially his Clair de Lune, in hundreds of film soundtracks. (His influence on mainstream culture is discussed in Matthew Brown’s Debussy Redux, 2012.) A popular radio station recently described “La Fille aux cheveux de lin” as “balmy and relaxing”, all as effortless as a bathe in the Dead Sea.

more here.