Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy, one of Western music’s revolutionaries.
As with the varying styles of Impressionist paintings, the long view represents something defined, but the closer you get, the more his compositions start to fall apart into the individual components that our minds work imperceptibly to piece together into meaningful shapes.
The long view is so sleek and seductive that listeners long ago began taking Debussy’s art for granted.
Pity the fate of composer Charles Griffes, born right across the lake from Toronto in 1884, and nearly forgotten within a generation after succumbing to a flu in 1920. So here, in the memory of an American Impressionist is a magical, refreshing splash in a Roman fountain (Aqua Paola), courtesy of pianist Stephen Beus, in a February recital.
Each of the four Roman Sketches, published in 1917, comes with a companion poem by William Sharp. For Aqua Paola:
As through the Aurora’s
Wild polar fires
Flashed in thy happy bubbles, died in thy foam.