A successful musical career but married life in doldrums! Know the biographical life of Claude Debussy!

Claude Debussy

Facts of Claude Debussy

Full Name: Claude Debussy
Age: 157 years 2 months
Birth Date: August 22, 1862
Horoscope: Leo
Lucky Number: 3
Lucky Stone: Ruby
Lucky Color: Gold
Best Match for Marriage: Sagittarius, Gemini, Aries
Death Date: March 25, 1918
Birth Place: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Father's Name: Manuel-Achille Debussy
Mother's Name: Victorine Manoury Debussy
Marital Status: Not Known
Gender: male
Profession: composer
Education: Académie des Beaux-Arts, Conservatoire de Paris
Nationality: French
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Black
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The remarkable French composer of his times, Claude Debussy, was amongst the most influential composers of the late 18th and early 20th centuries. He is known for his use of the non-conventional scales and tones. He has become an inspiration for most of the composers that followed him. He was known to be associated with impressionist music though Claude himself does not like being called so. He was honored and made the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in the year 1903.

Claude and his family

If we go through his biography, it states that Claude was born on 22 August 1862 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Seine-et-Oise. He was eldest of 5 children. His father was ManuelAchillee Debussy and owned a China shop.

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His mother Victorine Manoury Debussy worked as a seamstress. In 1867, the family relocated to Paris. In 1870, due to the Franco-Prussian War, Claude’s mother who was pregnant at that time fled to his paternal aunt’s house in Cannes. Claude, 7 started learning piano. After a year, the family returned to Paris. When he was 10, Claude entered the Paris Conservatoire and spent his next 11 years there. He learned music and its composition with various talented music artists. Claude never went to regular school.

Claude’s initial career

In 1884, after winning a scholarship, Claude joined Académie des Beaux-Arts. Here he gradually learned to make good compositions. He went on to study Richard Wagner’s music and soon began to admire it. He was in Rome for it but in 1887, returned to Paris to live at his parents’ home. He composed and met other fellow musicians at a local café.

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His visits abroad gave him insight into different music types and musical instruments. He incorporated all these to produce unique music of his own which was highly appreciated.

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Claude Debussy mature pieces

He soon started making mature pieces of music which became his masterpieces. He also worked as a music critic for some months in 1901. He composed ‘Pelleas et Melisande’ in 1902 which created a sensation. He gained international recognition due to it. He became to be known as the leading figure in French music and synthesized more masterpieces.

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In 1909, his health suffered and he had the first signs of cancer. Despite his ill-health, he continued to work and also gave concerts until the end of 1917. He was honored and also awarded for his achievements. He was offered memberships of prestigious societies.

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Claude’s turbulent love life

Claude could not get solace in his personal life. He had two marriages and multiple romantic involvements.

At 18 he had entered into an eight-year affair with Marie-Blanche Vasnier, the wife of Parisian civil servant Henri Vasnier. However, the relationship suffered and they separated.

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When he returned to his parents’ home in Paris, he started a relationship with Gabrielle (‘Gaby’) Dupont, who was a tailor’s daughter from Lisieux. He moved in with her on the rue de Londres, and later the rue Gustave Doré. Simultaneously, he was also dating singer Thérèse Roger, to whom he was briefly engaged.

Claude deserted Dupont for her friend Rosalie ‘Lilly’ Texier, a fashion model. He married Rosalie in 1899, after threatening suicide if she refused him. He could not stand her intellectual limitations and lack of musical sensitivity. She also was unable to bear children due to premature aging.

In 1904, Claude met Emma Bardac, wife of Parisian banker Sigismond Bardac through his student who was Emma’s son. Emma was brilliant and sophisticated and also a singer. In 1904, he packed off Lilly to her father’s home at Bichain in Villeneuve-la-Guyard and secretly took Emma to Jersey for a holiday. He wrote a letter to Lilly informing her that their marriage has ended. He moved in with her. Lilly survived a suicide attempt and this scandal led to Emma being disowned by her family. Both fled to England and later purchased a house in Paris and moved in there. Their daughter Claude-Emma was born and the couple married in 1908. But their relationship was troubled.

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Actress Mary Garden wrote:

“I honestly don’t know if Debussy ever loved anybody really. He loved his music – and perhaps himself. I think he was wrapped up in his genius… He was a very, very strange man.”


He died of rectal cancer on 25 March 1918.

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