La Mer

From Wind Repertory Project
Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy (arr. Odom)

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Subtitle: This work bears the designation L. 109.

General Info

Year: 1905 /
Duration: c. 24:15
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: U.S. Air Force Band
Cost: Score and Parts – Unavailable for purchase


1. "De l'aube à midi sur la mer" – très lent – animez peu à peu (si mineur) – c. 9:15
2. "Jeux de vagues" – allegro (dans un rythme très souple) – animé (do dièse mineur) – c. 6:45
3. "Dialogue du vent et de la mer" – animé et tumultueux – cédez très légèrement (do dièse mineur) – c. 8:15


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

La mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre (The sea, three symphonic sketches for orchestra), or simply La mer (i.e., The Sea), L. 109, is an orchestral composition by French composer Claude Debussy.

Composed between 1903 and 1905, the piece was initially not well received, but soon became one of Debussy's most admired and frequently performed orchestral works. Debussy called La mer "three symphonic sketches," avoiding the loaded term symphony.

As a young boy, Debussy's parents had plans for him to join the navy; his father was a professional seaman. Debussy himself even commented on his fond childhood memories of the beauties of the sea. However, as an adult composing La mer, he rarely visited the sea, spending most of his time far away from large bodies of water. Debussy drew inspiration from art, "preferring the seascapes available in painting and literature..." to the physical sea. This influence lends the piece its unusual nature.

La mer is a masterpiece of suggestion and subtlety in its rich depiction of the ocean, which combines unusual orchestration with daring impressionistic harmonies. The work has proven very influential, and its use of sensuous tonal colours and its orchestration methods have influenced many later film scores. While the structure of the work places it outside of both absolute music and programme music, it obviously uses descriptive devices to suggest wind, waves and the ambience of the sea. But structuring a piece around a nature subject without any literary or human element to it -- neither people, nor mythology, nor ships are suggested in the piece -- also was highly unusual at the time.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Symphonic Winds (Dennis Llinás, conductor) – 22 February 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer

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