Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun - Friday's Free Ensemble Monterey Download

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Dear Ensemble Monterey Friends - Today's treat is a very familiar peice, but in a setting you have probably not heard. Claude Debussy was a late 19'th Century French composer who changed the world of music. He desired to create a nationalistic French style of music that would be distinct from the prevailing Germanic models. In order to do so he had to reinvent the very basics of music: scale, rhythm, harmony and melody. I think of him as the first 20'th Century composer because he led the way for others in later reimagining what music could be. Most importantly, his music is fundamentally non-directional; it focuses on the sensuality of the present rather than the expectation of what is to come. His famous Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun was inspired by a poem by Mallarmé. Mallarmé was a "futurist" poet whose strings of words did not make discursive sense, but were formed for the sound and cadence of the words. Debussy was a big fan and regularly attended salons give by Mallarmé.

Next in this story comes a musical hero of mine and a curse word for some of you, Arnold Schoenberg. (Full disclosure; I studied at Schoenberg Hall). Early in the 20th Century Arnold was hired by a private music club in Vienna to "arrange" the newest and most revolutionary compositions for presentation by a reduced ensemble that they could afford. One of the rules of the club was that no booing or applause was allowed, and every piece was played twice, so you could really concentrate on it. Were these guys cerebral or what? Anyway, what we play here is Schoenberg's transcription of the Debussy as it was presented to them. The iconic flute solo at the beginning is played by our Principal Flutist, Lars Johannesson. If you hear some odd noise in the background, it's the dancers. We fully staged this wonderful piece.

Hint: there are now many more free downloads than the web site can display all at once. To see them all just click on the category, Ensemble Monterey Free Downloads.

Have a great weekend, stay healthy and I'll "see" you Monday.

Yours in Music - John Anderson