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Claude Debussy: A beginners' guide to the French composer as we celebrate his centenary

Posted on 16 January 2018

In March, it will be 100 years since Claude Debussy’s death and to mark the occasion, French pianist Philippe Cassard will be paying a visit to Sage Gateshead on Sunday 18 March for an epic day-long performance.

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Debussy? Who’s that?

Debussy was a French composer, among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Sounds intriguing. Any pieces I’d recognise?

A good place to start is the Suite bergamasque. This is one of the most famous piano suites by Debussy, especially its third movement Claire de lune which has been featured in many films, television series and adverts, including Atonement, Casino Royale, Twilight, a Chanel No.5 advert and even The Simpsons.

Here’s a clip of Philippe Cassard performing the piece in 2015.

I know that piece! So what exactly does Philippe Cassard’s Complete Debussy entail?

Philippe Cassard has performed his critically acclaimed Debussy marathon all over the world, from Paris to Lisbon and Sydney to Singapore – and now it’s Gateshead’s turn.

He’ll be performing a staggering four recitals in a single day, starting at 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8.30pm respectively, to mark 100 years since the composer’s death. Tickets for all four concerts are only £29 and £39 so come along and immerse yourself in the complete piano works of Debussy. These kind of treats don’t come along often, you know!

Oh no! I’ve just checked my diary and I’m busy that afternoon…

Fear not – you can buy tickets for individual concerts too, for £11.50 and £13.50. Debussy composed some incredible piano music, so if you can’t make the recital with your favourite piece in there is bound to be something else in another concert you’ll equally enjoy. The Préludes contain some of Debussy’s best-known piano music and La fille aux cheveux de lin is one of the composer’s most recorded pieces (5pm), while the notoriously hard to play Études are considered his late masterpieces (8pm). Full programmes and times

Sold! See you there!

Praise for Philippe Cassard

“Proof beyond doubt that Debussy’s piano music can overwhelm the listener” The Independent

“The world-class level of his performances is unmistakable from the very first moments” Classic FM

“An exquisite recital, exquisitely performed” Bachtrack

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