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Debussy the writer

Claude Debussy was a great composer, but like many other famous composers, he was also a wonderful writer. He wrote countless articles of music criticism, and his writing was clever, funny, insightful, highly opinionated, and often wickedly caustic. He wrote some of his articles under the pseudonym Monsieur Croche, which in French means “Mr. Eighth Note,” but whether writing as Monsieur Croche or himself, he was never shy about saying what he thought.

One of his most famous sentences, for example, concerns Richard Wagner. “The music of Wagner,” wrote Debussy, “was a beautiful sunset that people mistook for a dawn.” And there’s no question that Debussy admired Beethoven’s genius, but in a comment about Beethoven’s song “Adelaïde”– a song that I have to confess is a personal favorite of mine—Debussy wrote, “I think the old man must have forgotten to burn this piece, and we have to put the blame for its exhumation on his greedy heirs.”

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.