Debussy at 150
Some musical revolutions begin with a bang, like the pistol-shot chords that open Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony. Others begin with a whimper, such as that unto which Elvis Presley's voice descends in "Heartbreak Hotel." Then, there's the musical revolution of utter stillness — a solo flute, in the cool lower part of its range, meandering down and up the chromatic scale (like going down the piano keyboard playing all the white and black keys), deliniating the interval of a tritone (like playing the clashing F and B notes of a keyboard), going nowhere, building to nothing, savoring the moment and its own subtle beauty. This is the opening of "Prélude à l'après-midi d'une faune," the 1894 tone poem that can be counted as one of the harbingers of 20th-century musical modernity. The author of this quiet epoch-maker, Claude-Achille Debussy, was born 150 years ago today in the Paris suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. And his innovations still reverberate through contemporary classical composition, as you can hear practically every day on WFCR. Speaking of which, we'll mark Debussy's 150th with the Nocturnes, the Violin Sonata, Beau soir, the Suite bergamasque and, of course, that pensive, indescribably gorgeous Faune. Tune in.