New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
Comment >

100 years ago: Debussy at the Queen’s Hall

March 5th, 1909

ON Saturday afternoon a large audience assembled, in spite of the inclement weather, to hear a couple of works by the French composer, M. Claude Debussy, who conducted them himself. Three Nocturnes for Orchestra, of which this was the first performance in England, were the special attraction, and naturally many French people were present to support their compatriot. The music is of the impressionist order, and is supposed to suggest the movement of the clouds, the rhythm of the atmosphere, and the mysterious sounds and movements of the sea, the titles of the Noc­turnes being respectively Nuages, Fêtes, and Sirènes. In the last-named a chorus of female voices sang a weird, wordless chant to the syllable “Ah,” which served for the imagina­tion to call up the idea of a siren song, but to the plain man sounded very much like a lesson in voice-pro­duction. From the purely mu­sical point of view, it appeared to overpower the excessively deli­cate accompaniment of the orchestra. Frankly, the Nocturnes, in spite of a refinement and cleverness that can­not be disputed, were not exactly satisfying. The analytical pro­gramme described the Sirènes thus: “Its greatest charm lies in the subtle and original orchestration, with its translucid (sic), glaucescent colour­ing,” which would seem to be the last word in musical criticism. When music is asserted to be able to call up the glaucous colour of the sea, one can only say, Prodigious! The other composition, by M. Debussy, L’après-Midi d’un Faune, was performed in the Queen’s Hall a year ago, and bids fair to become a favourite item of concert pro­grammes. It is a graceful and charm­ing work.

Job of the week

Online Vicar

London and Home Counties

SOUL SEARCH ONLINE VICAR 20 hours a week working from home, pay is £20,000 Are you passionate about evangelism? Does digital media excite you as a means to connect with people to share the goo...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Extending a ministry of welcome

Extending a ministry of welcome

One of London’s hidden treasures is about to be opened to the public. Leigh Hatts reports  Subscribe to read more

Top comment

The local and the global cannot be separated

The PM’s criticism of ‘global citizens’ does not provide an excuse to neglect people beyond our borders, argues Rowan Williams  Read More

Wed 18 Jan 17 @ 20:25
More violence in South Sudan after vote fails https://t.co/0RTHZZleL9

Wed 18 Jan 17 @ 19:06
That the 46,000 may be one This week's @churchtimes leader https://t.co/fm2kqHm69K