Debussism as a Modernist Phenomenon: statement of the problem, musical approaches




debussism, the era of modernism, style, personal-stylistic phenomenon, musical modernism, the work of Claude Debussy


The relevance of the study. Among the many artistic definitions aimed at encompassing and understanding the artistic phenomena of the modernist era, the concept of debussism was perceived rather ambiguously and remained incompletely defined during the lifetime of Claude Debussy and after his death. Moreover, it remains so even today, in the 21st century. Therefore, the problem of scientific adaptation of the mentioned concept and its gradual and deep research assimilation seems urgent and one that requires comprehensive attention and a step-by-step solution.

The main objectives of the study are to review available scientific and journalistic sources regarding the ways of formation and features of the development of the phenomenon of debussism as an individual and stylistic phenomenon of the modernist era; trace the biographical and historical circumstances that preceded and accompanied the formation of debussism; and activate the concept of debussism in the interests of further terminological use in the field of domestic musicology.

The research methodology combines historical and comparative methods to trace the moments of emergence and manifestations of debussism's functioning. The method of operationalization of concepts is used in the article to clarify the parameters of the definition of the concept of debussism as well as to formulate its own definition. The system approach ensures the complex interaction of different levels of manifestation of the phenomenon.

Results and conclusions. Based on the study of scientific sources related to the work of Debussy, the author summarizes his analytical observations regarding the specific content of the concept of debussism. The identification of three levels of manifestation (compositional, social, and epochal) aids in understanding debussism's volumetric and multi-vector nature as a complex modernist phenomenon and a revealing marker of contemporary multidimensional culture. When his compositional features were masterfully integrated into the new artistic material of another author, the idea of following Claude Debussy (at all levels) became the real debussism. That is when Claude Debussy's imitation reaches the level of artistic reception. Otherwise, such an imitation is obviously feeble.

The proposed periodization of debussism into lifetime and posthumous stages determines the universal division of the cohort of researchers and composers into those who knew C. Debussy personally (or at least lived with him at the same time) and those who were influenced by him already after the artist's death. Such a division allows us not only to emphasize the importance of practical imitation of compositional and technological techniques but also to confirm as a fundamental fact the impact of Debussy's social relationships on modernist musical culture. Furthermore, such a periodization helps to establish, albeit broadly but objectively confirmed, chronological boundaries for debussism.

Taking into account the main events of the creative biography of the author of "Faun", the complex external and stylistic motivations of the development of his work, and the processes of formation and strengthening of the composer's popularity, as well as based on the presented research, it is arguable that debussism as a specifically modernist phenomenon, appeared on the predominant background of symbolism and impressionism, the combination of features of which in music served as the main impetus for supporters and followers of Debussy. Currently, the article presents its own working definition, which allows us to cover all three levels of detection of debussism: compositional, social, and epochal. Therefore, in the proposed study, debussism is defined as a personal musical and stylistic phenomenon of the modernist era, which is based on the synthesis of general signs of symbolism and impressionism and the individual innovations of Claude Debussy.

Having reviewed the forms of existence, stages of history, and levels of functioning of the phenomenon of debussism, we can state that it delicately balances between personal and general musical trends of the time, as a result of which it appears as a vivid expression of modernist patterns.

Author Biography

Serhii Deoba, Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine

Teacher at the Kyiv Lysenko State Music Lyceum, Postgraduate student at the Department of History of World Music


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