Debussy - Text and Ideas: Debussy and the Independent Art Bookshop

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In July 1893, a score for voice and piano of Debussy’s La Damoiselle élue was published, with a decorative cover illustrated by Maurice Denis. The publisher of this editorial masterpiece was not, however, part of the music publishing world. It was published, in fact, by the composer and occultist Edmond Bailly, who owned a small bookshop at 11 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Between 1890 and 1895, Bailly published all the authors of the Symbolist generation, including Henry de Régnier, André Gide, Pierre Louÿs, Paul Claudel, and even Oscar Wilde in the form of the French version of Salomé. The bookshop was also a place of exchange and Debussy frequented the place regularly. Poets, illustrators and musicians met there towards the end of each afternoon to discuss art. Such a convergence the arts in the unique environment that was the Librairie de l’Art indépendant could not help but permeate and deeply enrich Debussy’s work. In August 1893, the composer began to write Pelléas et Mélisande. It seems, therefore, that the atmosphere of the Librairie de l’Art indépendant had a significant impact on the birth of Debussy’s major masterpiece. 

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This event was on Thu, 12 Apr 2012


Denis Herlin

Denis Herlin is Director of Research at the Institut de recherche sur le patrimoine musical en France. He has published three catalogues of music collections...

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