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Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Chronology

  • 1862 22 August Achille-Claude Debussy born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris.
    Delius, Klimt born; Halevy (63), Thoreau (45) die; First performances of Beatrice et Benedict (Berlioz), La forza del destino (Verdi); The Companies Act introduced
  • 1863 Cavafy, Mascagni, Edvard Munch , Pierne born; Delacroix (65), Alfred de Vigny (66), Thackeray (52) die; Renan’s La vie de Jesus published; First Salon des Refuses in Paris; Gounod’s Faust produced in London, Dublin and New York; First performances of Les troyens a Carthage (Berlioz), Les pecheurs de perles (Bizet); French troops occupy Mexico; First underground railway completed in London; Poles rebel against Russia
  • 1864 Richard Strauss born; Nathaniel Hawthorne (58), Meyerbeer (73) die; First performance of Mireille (Gounod); Civil war in Japan; Papal Syllabus of Errors
  • 1865 Dukas, Glazunov, Sibelius, W. B. Yeats born; Pierre Proudhon (56) dies; First performance of L’africaine (Meyerbeer), Tristan und Isolde (Wagner); End of American Civil War; Lincoln assassinated; Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded
  • 1866 Busoni, Kandinsky, Satie born; Ruckert (78) dies; Le Parnasse contemporain first published; First performances of The Bartered Bride (Smetana), Mignon (Thomas), Symphony No. 1 (Bruckner); Prussia defeats Austria; Submarine telegraphic cable completed between Ireland and Newfoundland; Alfred Nobel invents dynamite
  • 1867 Claude Debussy family settles in Paris.
    Bonnard, Granados, Emil Nolde, Pirandello born; Charles Baudelaire (46) dies; Exposition Universelle in Paris; First performances of Romeo et Juliette (Gounod), La grande duchesse de Ge’rolstein (Offenbach), Cox and Box (Sullivan), Don Carlos (Verdi), Symphony No. 1 (Borodin), Symphony No. I (Tchaikovsky); Dominion of Canada established; Sholes invents the typewriter
  • 1868 Stefan George, Scott Joplin, Vuillard born; Rossini (76) dies; First performances of Mefistofele (Boito), Dalibor (Smetana), Die Meistersinger von Niirnberg (Wagner), Piano Concerto (Grieg), Piano Concerto No. 2 (Saint-Saens); Trade Union Congress founded
  • 1869 Gide, Matisse, Pfitzner, Roussel, Frank Lloyd Wright born; Berlioz (66), Dargomizhsky (56) die; First performance of Das Rheingold (Wagner); Suez Canal opened; Mendelyev devises the periodic table
  • 1870 Florent Schmitt born; Charles Dickens (58) dies; First performance of Die Walkiire (Wagner); Franco-Prussian War; Papal infallibility asserted by First Vatican Council; Education Act makes primary education open to all in Great Britain
  • 1871 Achille visits; Cannes, has piano lessons with Jean Cerutti; March – Manuel joins National Guard; December – On defeat of Commune Manuel is sentenced to four years imprisonment.
    Proust, Rouault born; Auber (89) dies; Societe nationale de musique founded; First performances of Aida (Verdi), Rouet d’Omphale (Saint-Saens); Paris Commune; Trades unions legalized in Britain
  • 1872 October Achille enters Paris Conservatoire, in classes of Lavignac and Marmontel.
    Diaghilev, Mondrian, Skryabin, Vaughan Williams born; Theophile Gautier (61) dies; Tolstoy completes War and Peace; First performances of L’arlesienne, Djamileh (Bizet), The Stone Guest (Dargomizhsky); Secret ballot introduced in Britain.
  • 1873 Rakhmaninov, Reger, de Severac born; John Stuart Mill (67) dies; First performances of Jeux d’enfants (Bizet), Redemption (Franck), Ivan the Terrible (Rimsky-Korsakov), Symphony No. 2 (Bruckner), Cello Concerto No. 1 (Saint-Saens), Symphony No. 2 (Tchaikovsky); Ashanti War
  • 1874 Wins third prize for solfege; Plays Chopin’s F minor Concerto in Conservatoire concert.
    Hoist, Ives, Schoenberg born; Monet’s Impression, Sunrise exhibited; First performances of Boris Godunov (Mussorgsky), La danse macabre (Saint-Saens), Die Fledermaus (Strauss); Bourbons recalled in Spain; Disraeli begins last term of office
  • 1875 Claude Debussy wins second medal for solfege and first certificate of merit for performance of Chopin’s Second Ballade.
    Ravel, Rilke, Robert Frost, Thomas Mann , Roger-Ducasse, Hann born; Bizet (37), Corot (79), Sterndale Bennett (59) die; First performances of Carmen (Bizet), Symphonic espagnole (Lalo), Piano Concerto No. 4 (Saint-Saens); Third Republic founded in France; Disraeli wins control of Suez Canal for Britain
  • 1876 Claude Debussy wins first medal for solfege.
    Casals, Falla, Monteux, Vlaminck born; First performances of Der Ring des Nibelung (Wagner), Sylvia (Delibes), La Gioconda (Ponchielli), The Kiss (Smetana), Peer Gynt (Grieg’s music to Ibsen’s play), Symphony No. 1 (Brahms); Purcell Society founded; End of the Second Carlist War in Spain; Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone; Custer’s last stand
  • 1877 Claude Debussy wins second prize for piano.
    Dohnanyi, Cortot, Dufy, van Dongen born; First performances of L’etoile (Chabrier), Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saens), Symphony No. 2 (Brahms), Symphony No. 2 (Borodin), Symphony No. 3 (Bruckner); Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India; Russia declares war on the Turks; Edison invents the phonograph
  • 1878 Schreker, Masefield, Augustus John, Caplet born; First performances of Symphony No. 4 (Tchaikovsky);
    Exposition Universelle in Paris; Bulgaria established as separate principality under Turkey
  • 1879 October Claude Debussy enters Bazille’s class of accompaniment and practical harmony; First surviving compositions date from around this year.
    Beecham, Bridge, Delage, E. M. Forster, Ireland, Klee, Respighi born; Viollet-le-Duc (65) dies; First performances of Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky), Une education manquee (Chabrier); Jules Grevy elected President of the French Republic
  • 1880 July First prize in practical harmony; Mme von Meck engages him as pianist, travelling to Switzerland and Italy; December – Enters Guiraud’s composition class.
    Bloch, Derain, Epstein, Medtner, Pizzetti, Thibaud born; George Eliot (61), Flaubert (59), Offenbach (61), Wieniawski (45) die; First performances of A May Night (Rimsky-Korsakov), Pirates of Penzance (Sullivan)
    Gladstone becomes Prime Minister for the second time
  • 1881 July Claude Debussy returns to Mme von Meek , this time in Moscow; Accompanist for Mme Moreau-Sainti’s singing class; Meets Blanche Vasnier and dedicates a number of songs to her.
    Bartok, Enescu, Leger, Miaskovsky, Picasso born; Carlyle (86), Dostoevsky (60), Mussorgsky (42), Vieuxtemps
    (61) die; First performances of Les contes d’Hoffmann (Offenbach), Piano Concerto No. 2 (Brahms), Symphony No. 4 (Bruckner); Boers defeat British at Majuba Hill; First Irish Home Rule Bill; In Egypt the Mahdi announces his aim of world domination; Canadian Pacific Railway formed; First electric tram runs in Berlin
  • 1882 May – Claude Debussy plays own music for first time in public; July – Second certificate for counterpoint and fugue; August – Returns to Mme von Meck in Russia, then to Vienna; First versions of ‘En sourdine’ and ‘Clair de lune’, Mandoline; First work published (Nuit d’etoiles)
    Braque, Joyce, Kodaly, Malipiero, Stravinsky, Szymanowski, Virginia Woolf born; First performances of The Snow Maiden (Rimsky-Korsakov), Parsifal (Wagner); Britain fighting in Egypt; Cairo occupied
  • 1883 June – Claude Debussy wins second Prix de Rome with setting of Le gladiateur
    Ansermet, Bax, Casella, Kafka, Webern born; Manet (51), Wagner (70) die Borodin (53) dies; First performances of Lakme (Delibes), Symphony No. 3 (Brahms)
  • 1884 June – Claude Debussy wins first Prix de Rome with setting of L’enfant prodigue
    Modigliani born; Smetana (60) dies; First performances of Manon (Massenet), Le villi (Puccini), Symphony No. 4 (Brahms), Symphony No. 7 (Bruckner), Symphony No. 6 (Dvorak); Fabian Society founded; Invention of Maxim machine-gun; Third Reform Bill
  • 1885 January – Claude Debussy Leaves for Villa Medici in Rome; November – Hears Liszt, who encourages him to listen to works of Palestrina and Lassus ‘L’ombre des arbres’, ‘Chevaux de bois’.
    Berg, Klemperer, D. H. Lawrence, Pound, Varese, Wellesz born; Victor Hugo (83) dies; First performances of Symphony No. 7 (Dvorak), The Mikado (Sullivan), Der Zigeunerbaron (Strauss); Khartoum captured: General Gordon killed; Canadian Pacific Railway completed
  • 1886 Claude Debussy finishes symphonic ode Zuleima, first envoi from Rome; severely criticized by the Academie ‘Green’.
    Alain-Fournier born; Liszt (75) dies; First performances of Khovanshchina (Mussorgsky), Variations symphoniques (Franck); Daimler produces his first motor-car
  • 1887 February – Claude Debussy returns to Paris; Printemps, ‘C’est l’extase’, ‘Il pleure dans mon cceur’, ‘Spleen’, ‘La mort des amants’; Begins La damoiselle elue.
    Rupert Brooke, Chagall, Le Corbusier, Artur Rubinstein, Edith Sitwell, Villa-Lobos born; Borodin (53) dies; First performances of Otello (Verdi); Queen Victoria’s Jubilee
  • 1888 Hears Parsifal and Die Meistersinger at Bayreuth ‘Le balcon’; Begins Petite suite, finishes La damoiselle e’lue.
    Durey, T. S. Eliot, T. E. Lawrence born; Allcan (75) dies; First performances of The Yeomen of the Guard (Sullivan), Symphony No. 5 (Tchaikovsky), Le roi d’Ys (Lalo); Pasteur Institute established in Paris; Pneumatic tyre invented
  • 1889 Hears Parsifal, Die Meistersinger and Tristan at Bayreuth; Visits Exposition Universelle in Paris;
    ‘Harmonie du soir’, ‘Le jet d’eau’, ‘Recueillement’ Petite suite performed and published, begins Fantaisie for piano and orchestra.
    Chaplin, Cocteau born; Gerard Manley Hopkins (45) dies; First performances of Don Juan (R. Strauss); Exposition Universelle in Paris: Eiffel Tower completed; Death of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria at Mayerling near Vienna
  • 1890 Begins opera Rodrigue et Chimene and Suite bergamasque, finishes Fantaisie.
    Ibert, Frank Martin, Martinfl, Nijinsky, Pasternak born; Van Gogh (37), Cesar Franck (68) die; First performances of Prince Igor (Borodin), Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni), The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky); Frazer begins to publish The Golden Bough; Parnell’s divorce scandal splits Irish Nationalists; Charles de Gaulle born
  • 1891 Claude Debussy meets Satie; First set of Fetes galantes.
    Bliss, Ernst, Prokofiev born; Delibes (55), Seurat (32) die; Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbenilles published
  • 1892 January – Abandons Rodrigue et Chimene; Begins liaison with Gabrielle Dupont ‘De reve’, ‘De greve’; Begins Prelude, interludes et paraphrase finale pour I’apres-midi d’un faune.
    Honegger, Milhaud born; Lalo (69) dies; First performances of I pagliacci (Leoncavallo), Werther (Massenet), Symphony No. 8 (Bruckner)
  • 1893 February – Claude Debussy meets Oscar Wilde; April – La damoiselle e’lue performed; May – Sees Maeterlinck’s Pelleas et Melisande and begins to set it to music; Meets Pierre Louys; December – String Quartet performed ‘De fleurs’, ‘De soir’.
    Mayakovsky, Wilfred Owen born; Gounod (75), Tchaikovsky (53), Maupassant (43) die; First performances of Hansel und Gretel (Humperdinck), Manon Lescaut (Puccini), Falstaff (Verdi), Symphony No. 6 (Tchaikovsky); Foundation of Independent Labour Party in Britain
  • 1894 February – Claude Debussy Engaged to singer Therese Roger; March Ysaye gives first all-Debussy concert in Brussels; Engagement broken off; December – Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune performed.
    e. e. cummings, Aldous Huxley, Piston, James Thurber born; Chabrier (53) dies; First performances of Symphony No. 1 (Mahler), Thais (Massenet), Symphony No. 5 (Bruckner); Dreyfus convicted of treason; Japan declares war against China
  • 1895 August – Claude Debussy finishes first version of Pelleas; Eluard.
    Robert Graves, Hindemith born; Promenade Concerts inaugurated in London by Henry Wood; Oscar Wilde sent to prison; First performances of Till Eulenspiegel (R. Strauss), Symphony No. 2 (Mahler); First commercial showing of moving pictures by Lumiere brothers; Freud publishes his first work on psychoanalysis; Rontgen discovers X-rays; Gillette invents the safety razor
  • 1896 February – First version of ‘Sarabande’ published.
    Gerhard, Massine, Scott Fitzgerald, Sessions born; Bruckner (72) dies; First performances of Andrea Chenier (Giordano), La boheme; First performances of Louise (Puccini), Der Corregidor (Wolf); French annex Madagascar; Gold discovered in Klondike
  • 1897 February – Orchestration of two of Satie’s Gymnopedies performed; June – Begins Chansons de Bilitis; December – Begins final version of Nocturnes.
    William Faulkner, Thornton Wilder born; Brahms (6+) dies; Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee
  • 1898 June – Claude Debussy prosecuted for debts; Liaison with Gabrielle Dupont ends; ‘Dieu, qu’il la fait bon regarder’, ‘Yver, vous n’estes qu’un villain’
    Brecht, Eisenstein, Gershwin, Hemingway, Henry Moore born; Aubrey Beardsley (26) dies; Ballad of Reading Gaol (Wilde) published; First performance of Ve’ronique (Messager), Sadko (Rimsky Korsakov); The Curies discover radium; Zeppelin invents rigid airship
  • 1899 October – Marries Rosalie (Lily ) Texier; December – Finishes Nocturnes
    Auric, Noel Coward, Alfred Hitchcock, Lorca, Vladimir Nabokov, Poulenc born; Chausson (44), Johann Strauss (74) die; First performances of The Tsars Bride (Rimsky-Korsakov), Enigma Variations (Elgar); Boer War; Aspirin first marketed; Dreyfus retried and again convicted
  • 1900 December – ‘Nuages’ and ‘Fetes’ performed.
    Antheil, Copland, Kfenek, Kurt Weill born; Sullivan (59) dies; First performances of Louise (Charpentier), Tosca (Puccini), The Tale of Tsar Saltan (Rimsky-Korsakov), The Dream of Gerontius (Elgar); Opening of Paris Metro; Boer War: relief of Kimberley and of Mafeking; Boxer Rebellion in China; Publication of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams; Gamma rays discovered
  • 1901 April – Becomes music critic for La Revue Blanche; May – Receives written assurance that Pelleas will be performed the following season; October – Nocturnes performed complete.
    Giacometti, Malraux, Rubbra, Sauguet born; Verdi (88), Toulouse-Lautrec (37) die; First performances of Rusalka (Dvorak), Feuersnot (R. Strauss), Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rakhmaninov), Symphony No. 4 (Mahler), Symphony No. 6 (Bruckner); Death of Queen Victoria; Marconi transmit radio signals across the Atlantic; Nobel Prizes inaugurated
  • 1902 January – Pour le piano performed; 30 April – Premiere of opera Pelleas et Melisande.
    Marlene Dietrich, Ogden Nash, Walton born; Samuel Butler (67) dies; First performances of Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea), Merrie England (Edward German), Symphony No. 2 (Sibelius), Symphony No. 3 (Mahler); End of Boer War
  • 1903 February Appointed Chevalier of the Legion of Honour Estampes; Begins La mer.
    Blacher, Khachaturian, Nicholas Nabokov, Simenon, Waugh born; Gauguin (55), Hug o Wolf (43) die; First performances of The Apostles (Elgar), Symphony No. 9 (Bruckner); First controlled flight in heavier-than-air machine by Wright brothers
  • 1904 June – Abandons Lily for Emma Bardac; Danse sacree et danse profane, Masques, L’isle joyeuse, Trois
    chansons de France, second set of Fetes galantes.
    Balanchine, Dali, Dallapiccola, Graham Greene, Kabalevsky, Skalkottas born; Chekhov (44), Dvorak (63) die; First performances of Madama Butterfly (Puccini), String Quartet (Ravel), Symphony No. 5 (Mahler); Russo-Japanese War (1904-5); Entente Cordiale between France and Britain
  • 1905 March – Finishes piano score of La mer; August Divorced from Lily; October – Daughter Claude-Emma (Chouchou) born; La mer performed.
    Greta Garbo, Jolivet, Koestler, Constant Lambert, Sartre, Rawsthorne, Tippett born; First performances of The Merry Widow (Lehar), Salome (R. Strauss); Law of Separation of Church and State passed in France; Einstein publishes his Special Theory of Relativity; Revolution in Russia
  • 1906 March – Has dinner with Richard Strauss; First set of piano Images performed.
    Samuel Beckett, Betjeman, Shostakovich born; Arensky (44), Cezanne (67), Ibsen (78) die; First performances of The Kingdom (Elgar), The Wreckers (Smyth), Symphony No. 6 (Mahler); San Francisco earthquake; Vitamins discovered
  • 1907 January/April – Pelleas performed in Brussels and Frankfurt.
    Auden, Moravia born; Grieg (64) dies; First performances of A Village Romeo andAriane et Barbe-bleue (Dukas); Picasso paints Les demoiselles d’Avignon; Publication of Bergson’s Creative Evolution; First helicopter flies
  • 1908 January – Marries Emma Bardac; February – Conducts in London; Pelleas performed in New York, second set of piano Images performed; March – Pelle’as performed in Milan , conducted by Toscanini; December – Children’s Corner performed.
    Elliott Carter, Messiaen born; Rimsky-Korsakov (64) dies; First performances of Symphony No. 1 (Elgar), Symphony No. 7 (Mahler); Belgium annexes Congo; First Model T Ford
  • 1909 February – Appointed member of the advisory board of the Conservatoire; Conducts again in London; May Supervises Covent Garden premiere of Pelleas ‘Rondes de printemps’; Begins Clarinet Rhapsody and first book of Preludes.
    Proust begins A la recherche du temps perdu; Marinetti and Futurists publish manifesto in Milan; First performances of The Golden Cockerel (Rimsky Korsakov), Elektra (R. Strauss), Il segreto di Susanna (Wolf Ferrari), Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rakhmaninov); Joan of Arc beatified; Bleriot flies across the English Channel
    Bakelite invented
  • 1910 February – Iberia performed; April – Has dinner with Mahler; June – Hears Stravinsky’s The Firebird and meets the composer; October – Father dies; November – Travels to Vienna and Budapest; Trois ballades de Francois Villon; First book of Preludes published.
    Anouilh, Samuel Barber, Jean Genet born; Balakirev (74), Tolstoy (82) die; First performances of La fanciulla del West (Puccini), The Firebird (Stravinsky), Violin Concerto (Elgar), A Sea Symphony and Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis (Vaughan Williams), Symphony No. 8 (Mahler); Union of South Africa
  • 1911 May – Le martyre de Saint Sebastien performed; June – Travels to Turin.
    Mahler (51) dies; Thomas Mann writes Death in Venice; Bruno Walter conducts posthumous first performance of Das; Lied von der Erde in Vienna; First performances of Der Rosenkavalier (R. Strauss), Petrushka (Stravinsky), Symphony No. 2 (Elgar), L’heure espagnole (Ravel); Nationalist Republic set up in China under Sun Yat-sen; Vitamins classified; Amundsen reaches South Pole
  • 1912 May – Ballet on Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune performed by Ballets Russes; September – Finishes first version of Jeux; 27 December 100th performance of Pelleas at Opera-Comique.
    Cage, Ionesco born; Massenet (70) dies; First performances of Der feme Klang (Schreker), Ariadne auf Naxos, first version (R. Strauss), Pierrot lunaire (Schoenberg), Daphnis et Chloe (Ravel); China becomes a republic; Titanic sinks; Scott’s last expedition to the South Pole
  • 1913 January – Orchestral Images performed complete; May – Jeux performed by Ballets Russes, Loie Fuller gives choreographic version of ‘Nuages’ and ‘Sirenes’; December – Visits Moscow and St Petersburg at invitation of Koussevitsky; Second book of Preludes published.
    Britten, Camus, Lutoslawski born; First performances of La vida breve (Falla), Penelope (Faure), Le sacre du printemps (Stravinsky), Piano Concerto No. 2 (Prokofiev); Treaty of Bucharest
  • 1914 February – Visits Rome, The Hague and Amsterdam; July – Last visit to London.
    Panufnik, Dylan Thomas, Tennessee Williams born; Alain-Fournier (28), Liadov (59) die; First performances of The Immortal Hour (Rutland Boughton), A London Symphony (Vaughan Williams); Ezra Pound begins work on his Cantos; Opening of Panama Canal; Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria assassinated at Sarajevo; Outbreak of First World War
  • 1915 March – Mother dies; December – Undergoes operation for cancer; En blanc et noir, Cello Sonata, Etudes, Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp.
    Saul Bellow, Arthur Miller, Orson Welles born; Rupert Brooke (28), Skryabin (43) die; Chaplin’s film The Tramp; Henry Ford develops the first farm tractor; Einstein publishes his General Theory of Relativity; Lusitania sunk
  • 1916 October – Begins Violi n Sonata; December – Etudes performed.
    Babbitt born; Granados (49), Henry James (73), Reger (43) die; First performances of Savitri (Hoist); Battles of Verdun, the Somme, Jutland
  • 1917 September – Last appearance on concert platform, accompanying Violin Sonata.
    Robert Lowell, Sidney Nolan born; Degas (83) dies; First performances of Turandot and Arlecchino (Busoni), Palestrina (Pfitzner), La rondine (Puccini), Parade (Satie); Bolshevik Revolution in Russia; Balfour Declaration
  • 1918 25 March – Debussy dies, aged 55.
    Apollinaire (38), Klimt (56), Wilfred Owen (25), Parry (70) die; First performances of The Miraculous Mandarin (Bartok), Il trittico (Puccini), Histoire du soldat (Stravinsky), Classical Symphony (Prokofiev); End of First World War;
    Publication of Spengler’s The Decline of the West

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