Fêtes from "Three Nocturnes" (arr. Schaefer)

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Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy (arr. William Schaefer)

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Subtitle: "Festivals," from Three Nocturnes

General Info

Year: 1899 / 1959
Duration: c. 6:40
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: TRN
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $70.00   |   Score Only (print) - $8.00


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Fêtes, Festivals, is the brilliant second movement of the orchestral work Three Nocturnes. This movement and the first (Nuages) were premiered in Paris on December 9, 1900. The third part, titled Sirenes, was premiered with a repetition of the other two on October 27, 1901.

Debussy's imagination, according to his own written description, dwelt on "the restless dancing rhythms of the atmosphere, interspersed with abrupt scintillations." After the exciting opening section, a procession starts as if approaching from a distance. Debussy described it as "a wholly visionary pageant, passing through and blending with the revelry, the background of the uninterrupted festival persisting: luminous dust participating in the universal rhythms." The music ends with a repetition of the opening measures, fading away into the distance.

- Program note from Band Music Notes

Nocturnes, L. 91, CD. 98 (also known as Trois Nocturnes or Three Nocturnes) is an impressionist orchestral composition in three movements by the French composer Claude Debussy, who wrote it between 1892 and 1899. It is based on poems from Poèmes anciens et romanesques (Henri de Régnier, 1890).

Debussy writes: "[The second movement,] Fêtes, gives the vibrating, dancing rhythm of the atmosphere with sudden flashes of light. There is also the episode of the procession (a dazzling fantastic vision), which passes through the festive scene and becomes merged in it. But the background remains resistantly the same: the festival with its blending of music and luminous dust participating in the cosmic rhythm. "

Debussy went on to explain to Poujaud that "Festivals" had been inspired by a recollection of merry-making in the Bois de Boulogne, with noisy crowds watching the drum and bugle corps of the Garde Nationale pass in parade.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Maryland: VI
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Virginia: VI


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  • Debussy, C.; Schaefer, W. (1959). Fêtes: "Festivals," from Three Nocturnes [score]. Bandland: Detroit, Mich.
  • Nocturnes (Debussy), Wikipedia Accessed 17 July 2021
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 161.