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Danses Sacrée et Profane

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Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy (arr. Larry Odom)


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General Info

Year: 1904 / 2019
Duration: c. 10:30
Difficulty: VI (solo), IV (ensemble) (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Harp and symphony
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Instrumentation

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Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Throughout the eleven years he spent as a student at the Paris Conservatory and for the rest of his career as a composer, Debussy was considered a revolutionary. His unorthodox harmonies and sense of musical form antagonized both his teachers and fellow students, and would inevitably stir up great controversy among those fortunate enough to be able to witness the premieres of his compositions.

Debussy loved to experiment with music, and his sense of adventure was no doubt ignited by the prospect of composing this work, which was commissioned in 1904 by the Pleyel company. The reason for this commission was to herald what was potentially a revolutionary new instrument that had been invented by the company's chief director Gustave Lyon, a chromatic harp.

The Danses sacrée et profane were written during the period that Debussy was composing his most ambitious orchestral work, La Mer, and a few years after the opera Pelleas et Melisande. The Danse sacrée with its pastel transparency, modal harmonies, and aura of antiquity mark it as being related to the opera. It begins with a quiet but stately unison melody to which the harp responds with a theme of arpeggiated chords. Thereafter, the harp and strings meander peacefully through landscapes of parallel harmonies quite typical of Debussy, pausing here and there to refer back to the initial themes. The Danse profane is written in a pronounced triple meter, which gives this movement a much more stable foundation. Nevertheless, the interplay between harp and strings is much more capricious than in the first dance, particularly in the ebbs and flows of the themes and dynamics that mark this section as a close relative of La Mer. As such it reflects the designation "profane," not as in the sense of profanity or obscenity, but profane in the sense of a love of nature and earthly existence.

- Program Note from New Millennium Records


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

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Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music


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Resources