Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel were roughly contemporaries, and as two of the greatest figures in late 19th and early 20th-century French music, they tend to be linked in people’s minds. But although they had similar training and came under many of the same influences, their musical styles and techniques were really quite different. And each admired the other’s talents, but that didn’t stop either one of them from criticizing what he saw as the other’s weaknesses. Debussy was perhaps harder on Ravel than the other way around, because although Ravel complained about certain aspects of Debussy’s writing for the orchestra and for the piano, he also called Debussy “the most phenomenal genius in the history of French music,” and he once said that his dearest wish would be, and I quote, “to die gently lulled in the tender and voluptuous embrace of Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.