“Music is the silence between the notes.”
Clair de Lune is one of my favorite classical music pieces. It was the third and probably most famous work from Claude Debussy. Many people, however, don’t know the origin of this beautiful work of art.
Clair de Lune, or Moonlight, is a poem by Paul Verlaine, author of Nevermore. It was featured in Verlaine’s work Fêtes galantes, in 1869.
Votre âme est un paysage choisi ~ Your soul is like a landscape fantasy,
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques ~ Where masks and Bergamasks, in charming wise,
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi ~ Strum lutes and dance, just a bit sad to be
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.~Hidden beneath their fanciful disguise.
Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur ~Singing in minor mode of life’s largesse
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune, ~ And all-victorious love, they yet seem quite
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur ~ Reluctant to believe their happiness,
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune, ~ And their song mingles with the pale moonlight,
Au calme clair de lune triste et beau, ~ The calm, pale moonlight, whose sad beauty, beaming,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres ~ Sets the birds softly dreaming in the trees,
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau, ~ And makes the marbled fountains, gushing, streaming–
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres. ~ Slender jet-fountains–sob their ecstasies.
Debussy added the work to his movement, Suite Bergamasque, in 1905 taking inspiration from the French Baroque period from the 17th and early 18th century. Debussy is considered one of the leaders of French Impressionism, normally a term used for visual art, in this case it is meant to describe the use of harmony and texture to represent light and color.
I ask that you listen to Clair de Lune, and if you are so called, the entire Suite Bergamasque. Close your eyes, and really feel the music, the moonlight shining down upon you. Then listen to it while reading the poem and let me know what you think.
Visit my blog again next Wednesday for more music!
Mccallum, S. (2018, December 06). Decoding the Music Masterpieces: Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/decoding-the-music-masterpieces-debussys-clair-de-lune-79765