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Composed by Claude Debussy

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Sheet Music



Minstrels comes from Debussy's “Préludes”, 24 pieces for solo piano. These piano solos were written between December 1909 and April 1913 in 2 separate volumes. The titles of these preludes are highly significant in terms of their descriptive quality. Claude Debussy’s own performance of Minstrels in the 1912 piano rolls contains expressive techniques that are not often heard today: random pushes and pulls of tempi, flippant rhythmic alterations, frequent inégale, and tempo rubato. These performing practices, although odd-sounding to the modern listener, were common at the turn of the twentieth century. His vivid rendition of the piece, includes expressive techniques that are missing from the original notation and significantly alter the experience of the music. Unexpected meanings that cannot be deduced from studying the score alone arise when taking into consideration Debussy’s interpretation as a performer.


Claude Debussy

Achille-Claude Debussy (1862–1918) was a French composer who along with Maurice Ravel, was one of the most prominent figures associated with the French Impressionist music scene. Debussy was one of the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and his use of non-traditional scales and chromaticism influenced many composers who followed. His music is noted for its sensory content and frequent usage of atonality. The prominent French literary style of this period known as Symbolism, directly inspired Debussy both as a composer and as an active cultural participant. Born in August 1862 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, the eldest of five children.  His father, owned a local china shop and his mother  was a seamstress. The family moved to Paris in 1867, but later moved to Cannes to escape the Franco-Prussian War. Debussy began piano lessons aged seven and at age ten entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he spent the next 11 years, studying with Guiraud, Bourgault-Ducoudray, Durand, César Franck as well as other significant figures of the era. From the start of his studies Debussy was found to be argumentative and experimental, although clearly talented. He challenged the rigid teaching there, favouring dissonance and intervals that were frowned upon. He was a brilliant pianist and an outstanding sight-reader. Debussy took a strong interest in literature and the visual arts and used these mediums to help shape his unique musical sound. Above all, Debussy was inspired by nature and the impression it made on the mind; he called "Mysterious Nature" his religion.

Arranged by Duncan Wilson

2:30 Minutes

4 Trumpets
1 Horn in F
4 Trombones
1 Tuba
2 Percussion

Percussion section requires: Side Drum, Xylophone, Woodblock, Bass Drum, Small and Large Cymbal and Whip