School of Music Program Book 1949-1950 Page: 33
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The "Premiere Rhapsodie" was a contest piece composed for clari-
net and piano in 1909 when Debussy was a member of Music Council
of the Paris Conservatory. In 1911 the work was orchestrated and
thereafter was a valuable addition to the repertoire of an instrument
for which neither Mozart nor Weber disdained to write, and whose
"romantic charm" Debussy had always appreciated. Although written
in a "showy" style suitable for a solo instrument, the work maintains
a high artistic level. Probably the first performance was given in
Russia in 1911. The audience showed a perplexity which surprised
Debussy; he wrote to a friend: "Surely this piece is one of the most
pleasing I have ever written .. ."
Debussy finished his three "Nocturnes" in 1899, subsequently
making numerous changes in the orchestration. "Nuages" and "Fetes"
were first performed in Paris by the Lamoureux Orchestra under
Chevillard in 1900; "Sirenes" (together with the other two) was first
played by the same orchestra in 1901. In 1894 Debussy firmly estab-
lished himself as a highly significant orchestral composer with his
"Prelude a l'Apres-midi d'un Faune." He was already working on
"Pelleas et Melisande" (which he finished in 1902), and the three
"Nocturnes" had begun to occupy his attention. He told Ysaye in
1894 that he was writing three "Nocturnes" for solo violin and
orchestra. These pieces were not finished according to this scheme,
but appeared six years later in the present form. Debussy described
his intentions in composing the "Nocturnes" as follows: "The title
"Nocturnes" is to be interpreted here in a general and, more particu-
larly, in a decorative sense. Therefore, it is not meant to designate
the usual form of the Nocturne, but rather all the various impressions
and the special effects of light that the word suggests. "Nuages"
renders the immutable aspect of the sky and the slow, solemn motion
of the clouds, fading into poignant grey softly touched with white.
"Fetes" gives us the vibrating, dancing rhythm of the atmosphere
with sudden flashes of light. There is also the episode of the proces-
sion (a dazzling fantastic vision) which passes through the festive
scene and becomes merged in it. But the background remains per-
sistently the same: the festival with its blending of music and lumi-
nous dust participating in the cosmic rhythm."
Program Notes by Gerhardt Dorn
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North Texas State College. School of Music. School of Music Program Book 1949-1950, book, 1950; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc139506/m1/35/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Music Library.