To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy’s birth (1862-1918), l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM) is organizing an international conference, under the auspices of activities generated by the Equipe musique française associated with its Laboratoire musique, histoire et société. During four entire days, 43 papers and special musical events will be presented. The conference will take place at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Auditorium Maxwell-Cummings, 1379 rue Sherbrooke Ouest) on Wednesday, February 29th and will continue at the Faculty of Music of the University of Montreal (200, avenue Vincent-d’Indy) from Thurdsay, March 1st until Saturday, March 3rd.
Debussy studies have developed considerably during the past twenty years and promise to produce a significant renewal in the reception of his work. Many new compositions have been brought to light and published (especially—but not exclusively—resulting from work on the ongoing critical edition), a new and considerably enriched edition of the correspondence was published in 2005, and many groundbreaking studies have focused on Debussy’s style and musical language (harmony, form, structure). Musical culture, art, and French society during the Third Republic have seen a similar explosion of interest among researchers, including studies of musical teaching institutions, public concert societies, music in salons, the press and music publishing, and the influence of politics. All of this has opened the way to better insight on the composer in his context and allows reflection on the way he interacted with his social and cultural milieu as he evolved.
The conference will take stock of recent developments in Debussy studies and explore the new perspectives they open up on our understanding of the composer’s legacy, including such subjects as the characteristics and originality of Debussy’s musical language, the relationship between Debussy’s aesthetics and the literature and arts of his time, the links between Debussy and the intellectual, political, and social life of his period, the stylistic influence of Debussy on the music of his period and on the Debussyste movement, the relationships of this composer with others in the musical world, performances of Debussy’s music, his interactions with institutions of his period, the reception of Debussy’s work in France and abroad and Debussy’s writings as critic, letter-writer, poet, and creative writer.