SUNDAY, September 6, 2020 – 4:45 AM
(This is an update from much earlier this year.)
- 3 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in A and B♭, 2 bassoons
- 4 horns
- 2 harps, 2 crotales
They are antique cymbals, are percussion instruments consisting of small, tuned bronze or brass disks. They are commonly played by being struck with hard malletsYou can also strike two disks together like finger cymbals, or you can bow them. Modern crotales are arranged chromatically and have a range of up to two octaves.
Another important recording by Stokowski…
This is yet again a miraculous recording made around 1957 by Stokowski that continues to compete with anything done very recently.
Too controversial to be staged…
Unlike so many other great musical compositions, this was a hit from day one, and it’s been a favorite even since. However, a ballet based on this same music was considered much too risqué and sparked a controversy almost as extreme as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.
Debussy wrote in the printed program:
The music of this Prelude is a very free illustration of a beautiful poem by Mallarmé. It is little about summarizing this poem, but instead suggests different feelings which lead to desires and dreams of the Aegipan (the fawn) during this torpid afternoon. Tired of chasing fearful nymphs and shy naiads, he abandons himself to a voluptuous sleep that animates the dream of a desire finally fulfilled: complete possession of all of Nature.
Originally the 1st of three movements…
Debussy had intended to compose a second and third movement, an Interlude and Paraphrase finale, respectively, but changes his mind, writing all his ideas into just one.
One of the compositions that changed the course of musical history…
If we examine what everyone else in the world was doing in 1894 it becomes obvious that this piece is unique, and it is always mentioned as something that was a musical turning point. It’s hard to believe today, when everything just sounds so natural, inevitable and just plain right. But in its time it was quite revolutionary, though in a very pleasant and easily acceptable way.