Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

School of Music

Sub-Department

Conducting

First Advisor

Donald Portnoy

Abstract

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was one of the most important composers in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. His innovative harmonic language changed principles of tonal music which had existed for more than two hundred years. Debussy established a new musical style, and his innovations have influenced generations of composers.

In the 1890s Debussy freed himself from Wagner's influence and created his own musical style. His only String Quartet, Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un faune, Pelléas et Mélisande, and the Nocturnes are his most significant works during this period. This document will include historical research and score analysis of the Nocturnes, seeking to make a comprehensive stylistic analysis in order to understand Debussy's musical style at this time.

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