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Engulfed Cathedral, The (tr Patterson)

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Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy (trans. Merlin Patterson)

The full title in French is Préludes, Book 1: X. La cathédrale engloutie.

General Info

Year: 1910 / 1993
Duration: c. 6:45
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manhattan Beach Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $165.00   |   Score Only - $35.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn (opt.)
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Eb Contra Alto Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass (opt.)
Celeste (opt.)
Harp (opt.)
Piano (opt.)
Percussion (5-6 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals (suspended)
  • Gong (Tam-Tam)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Vibraphone (2 players)
  • Crotales
  • Chimes


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Claude Debussy's Preludes are a pinnacle of Impressionism, each based on some fleeting or lasting image. The Engulfed Cathedral imagine Brittanic legend, in which the Cathedral of Ys is swallowed by the sea as a punishment for the sinfulness of its patronage. Each morning, as the townspeople watch transfixed, the cathedral would slowly rise out of the sea at sunrise and be subsequently overwhelm by the waters again as a grim reminder. Debussy captures this image deftly, with his ability obscure metro structure through thick textures, extended and modal harmonies and unconventional rhythms. The three parallel arching structures that comprise the piece slowly reveal the long outline of a tonic triad *G,E, and C major), symbolizing the slow and inevitable descent of the cathedral until it reawakens upon the next sunrise.

- Program Note from University of Georgia Wind Ensemble concert program, 26 March 2009

The Engulfed Cathedral is the tenth prelude in the first volume of Debussy's Preludes. It depicts an old legend from Brittany that states, “To punish the people for their sins, the cathedral in the mighty city of Ys is engulfed by the sea. Each sunrise, the townspeople watch as the sunken cathedral rises from the water, and then sinks slowly into the ocean."

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music


State Ratings

  • Florida: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: IV
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, Symphonic Winds (Joseph Higgins, conductor) – 10 March 2020
  • Texas All-State Concert Band (Robert Ambrose, conductor) - 15 February 2020 (2020 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band (New York, N.Y.) (Henco Espag, conductor) - 14 December 2019
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Symphony (Scott Hanna, conductor) – 4 December 2019
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman) Symphony Band (Hannah Rudy, conductor) – 25 November 2019
  • Pacific Lutheran University (Parkland, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Edwin Powell, conductor) – 24 November 2019
  • Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.) Symphonic Band (Ricky Badua, conductor) – 19 October 2019
  • Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Caneva, conductor) – 26 April 2019
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Wind Symphony (Christopher Hughes, conductor) – 4 March 2019
  • Hudson Valley Wind Ensemble (Ossining, N.Y.) (James D. Wayne, conductor) – 3 March 2019
  • Atascadero (Calif.) Community Band (Randy Schwalbe, conductor) – 3 March 2018
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Stephen Bolstad, conductor) – 23 February 2019
  • Syracuse (N.Y.) University Wind Ensemble (Kenneth Pfromm, conductor) – 13 November 2018
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Wind Symphony (Don L. Peterson, conductor) – 1 November 2018
  • Belmont University (Nashville, Tenn.) Wind Ensemble (Barry Kraus, conductor) – 5 October 2018
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Ryan M. Yahl, conductor) – 27 March 2018
  • San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Wind Orchestra (Jennifer Martin, conductor) – 24 March 2018
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Wind Ensemble (JoAnn Wieszczyk, conductor) – 7 March 2018
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 2 February 2018
  • Youngstown (Ohio) State University Wind Ensemble (Stephen Gage, conductor) – 19 October 2017
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Wind Ensemble (John P. Lynch, conductor) – 26 March 2009 (CBDNA 2009 National Conference, Austin, Tx.)

Works for Winds by This Composer

This composer primarily wrote orchestral music. Transcriptions of his works include:

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works