CLAUDE DEBUSSY was one of the most influential and enigmatic composers of our century. It seems extraordinary that until now there has been no representative collection of his correspondence published in English. A brilliant stylist, Debussy is witty, caustic and prodigal with vivid turns of phrase. His letters to more than 70 correspondents are rich in uninhibited remarks about his own music and about fellow musicians: Berlioz, 'a prodigious humbug'; Bizet, 'the Maupassant of music'; Fauré, 'the standard-bearer for a group of snobs and imbeciles'; Richard Strauss, 'the symphonic domestic'; d'Indy, 'the Schola contractor'; Ravel, the 'fakir-cum-enchanter'. His circle included painters and many leading symbolist writers, André Gide, Mallarmé, and Pierre LouYs prominent among them. Throughout his correspondence, Debussy has important things to say about central issues in art, literature, theatre, and music in the period leading up to the First World War when the foundations of modernism were laid. To the 255 letters in the original French edition have been added a further 56, several of which have never been published in French. Roger Nichols's translation perfectly captures Debussy's verbal chemistry which often reveals depths of sadness and frustration counterbalancing the marvellous flights of fancy. A vivid picture emerges of the struggles, hopes and fears of this wayward and elusive genius. Francois Lesure is an internationally respected scholar and head of the music section of the Bibliothéque nationale in Paris. Roger Nichols is a well-known authority on French music, whose previous books include studies of Ravel and Messiaen.
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